Friday, July 10, 2009

The Super-Retort


Tu dimaag kyon lagaata hai? / Why do you apply your brains? - the most despicable, terse, one size fits all, insensitive Super-Retort that I frequently receive when I express my elaborate opinion about a movie. I loathe this reply. Movie make wonderful topics of conversations - two people independently experiencing the same two hour life experience and sharing their version of it. It is criminal to trivialize reactions to it. I dislike the super-retort so much that I start getting annoyed with the person itself. And I feel this happens to a lot of people out there. So here's my attempt to dissect the retort, so that there is less animosity and global warming in the world!

"In the movie, most of the energy and brains(if any) has been applied to shooting songs independently, which were brashly splattered in the movie, interrupting the storyline. Otherwise time was spent in making the actors look good on screen - not the character, but the actor himself; With pronounced actions (removing sunglasses, adjusting the hair, swiveling) and jittery fast-paced and intermittent slow motion sequences. A strut towards the loo looked like it had grandeur and some ulterior purpose."
"Arre...It was an entertaining movie....Race mein tu dimaag kyon lagaata hai?"

The Super-Retort shows up when there is conflict of opinions. Two people, having similar positive / negative reactions to a movie, will never say it. And curiously, the Super-Retort always flows from the positive to the negative.
"I just loved Forrest Gump. How one man's simplicity lets him get involved in experiences of such magnitude, without getting bogged down by conflicts, hope, distrust, anger that come bundled with so-called normal intelligence." For this, I am sure you'll never hear "Abe tu inta dimaag kyon lagaata hai?". Because you'll never be lampooned for praising a movie in detail.

My first strong contention is that it is not the opinion itself that bothers them, but the elaborate articulation. The next time you observe, shoot or receive the Super-Retort, do notice that it does not bubble up at the start of a negative opinion. But if you evoke sub-lines of thought on character, continuity, storyline or depth, wham! You'll surely be hit by it.

We need to have strong reasons to dislike a movie others liked, but just a grinning one-liner or a shrug to justify liking a movie that disappointed others. What is it about an elaborate opinion that bothers people? Maybe the person with flavoured words appears at best to have a more formidable vocabulary and at worst, pretentious.....What is he/she trying to be by disliking this film?

So next time you are in wild disagreement with a person's (negative) opinion about a movie, I suggest two alternatives for starting the conversation.

1. "Did you have high expectations from the movie?"
(comparing real experience vs. expectations)

I guess it bothers people that movies that had less to offer are thrashed mercilessly; That he/she was 'looking for the wrong thing' in the movie and consequently faced inevitable disappointment. Just like the book 5 Point Someone, which for reasons I don't understand, is criticized for lack of literary depth. So rather than criticizing brain activity, delve more into expectations. You would have definitely experienced this when you suggested a movie to friends with saccharine praises, and they returned saying "Ehh..Johhny Gaddar was ok. But not that great."

2. "Do you usually enjoy this genre of movies?"
(comparing current experience vs. previous experiences)

'Yes I liked Ice Age1 and Ice Age2. Ice Age3 was a disappointment because it seemed like a stretch - like they milked existing characters of Manny, Diego and Sid and came up with something quite arbitrary.'
OR
'Ice Age 3 was just like the others. I don't like animation at all.'
Understanding how that person has reacted to similar movies is a good place to start. It reveals more answers than conveniently mocking the opinion.

In the future suppose you find yourself disagreeing with my movie opinion and are not in the mood for a discussion. Then please move on. Don't attribute it by yourself to my neurons. It is heartening to know that you possess a godly gift of voluntary brain usage circuitry and exploit it. I don't.