After a short break, review bombing makes a comeback in Malayalam

'Marivillin Gopurangal' producer Siyad Koker filed a complaint with the Kochi city police after which, popular YouTuber Aswanth Kok deleted his viral review. But there's more to the story. Read on...

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published May 16, 2024 | 2:39 PMUpdatedMay 16, 2024 | 2:39 PM

Review bombing makes a comeback in malayalam with Marivillin Gopurangal

After a short break, the Malayalam film industry has witnessed yet another incident of review bombing. This time, it is director Arun Bose’s Marivillin Gopurangal.

Arun Bose’s latest outing opened to a positive response on 11 May. However, issues started when a popular YouTuber named Aswanth Kok, notorious among film circles for his negative reviews, uploaded his review of the movie on his YouTube channel.

The Youtuber gave negative reviews for this feel-good entertainer and also questioned why it was made.

As his review went viral on YouTube, Marivillin Gopurangal producer Siyad Koker filed a formal complaint with the Kochi city police commissioner alleging a review bombing by Aswanth Kok.

Subsequently, the YouTuber deleted the related video.

Abusing is not film reviewing: Producer Siyad Koker

About the issue, Koker told Manorama News, “If no action is taken regarding the complaint, the reviewers responsible will be addressed directly.”

The Marivillin Gopurangal producer asserted that using abusive language for the cast and crew of a movie doesn’t fall under film reviewing but a targeted attack or review bombing. He recalled that in the 1980s, critics used decent language in reviews.

Siyad Koker has levelled serious allegations

Siyad Koker has levelled serious allegations. (Supplied)

Siyad Koker felt that there was no point in taking the issue up legally since it would take a long time. “The Youtuber deleting the video isn’t enough. He should stop doing reviews since he made personal attacks against the cast and crew in our film.”

The producer called out the Malayalam industry to come together to “handle” reviewers who make a living through mudslinging the artistes and technicians.

This is not the first time that Malayalam cinema faced review bombing.

In their writ petition filed last year, Malayalam filmmaker Mubeen Rauf (of Aaromalinte Pranayam fame) and the Kerala Film Producers’ Association asked the Kerala High Court to restrain negative reviews of films on social media.

In a report filed before the Kerala High Court in March this year, the Amicus Curiae said vloggers and critics need not review films within 48 hours of their theatrical release.

The Amicus Curiae also underscored that reviews uploaded within 48 hours should not include spoilers or major plot points.

Review Bombing: Amicus Curiae says film reviews feasible only after 48 hours

‘Threatening not a healthy practice’

As the fresh review bombing episode became viral, some netizens supported the YouTuber and some stood by Siyad Koker.

A film critic, who didn’t wish to be named, told South First that Siyad Koker threatening to “handle” the YouTube reviewer is not at all a healthy practice. “It was similar to what fascists do to those who criticise them or see an eye to eye,” he felt.

“Cinema is an art form, everyone has the right to criticise it. The filmmakers need to make concerted efforts by taking a legal route against those resorting to personal attack, targeted trolling or review bombing since it affects the film business. But threatening the people concerned is not acceptable,” the critic added.

The film critic pointed out that Aswanth Kok reviews films from the viewpoint of mass audiences. “His reviews mostly cater to people who look for regular masala and formulaic templates in a flick.”

However, he stressed that one (referring to producer Siyad Koker) needs to follow etiquette and threatening is definitely not a solution to tackle such issues.

Related: Court orders probe against YouTubers for ‘Bandra’ review bombing

Look at collective opinion: Indrajith Sukumaran

When asked about criticism and film reviews, Marivillin Gopurangal actor Indrajith Sukumaran told South First that anyone can express one’s opinion about a film, but only after watching it. “People are free to share their thoughts, but they need to be sensible.”

He also requested the viewers to think about the collective opinion of a larger audience instead of relying on the opinion of a popular reviewer.

Marivillin Gopurangal director Arun Bose also echoed the same opinion. He said everyone can exercise their freedom of expression but should never cross the line.

He added that as an artist, he takes criticism maturely. “Constructive criticism and personal attacks are different. I accept constructive criticism since it helps me improve as an artist and expand my horizons. But I don’t entertain personal attacks under the garb of criticism.”

The case of Malayalee From India

Listin Stephen is producer of Malayalee From India

‘Malayalee From India’ producer Listin Stephen. (Supplied)

In a similar case, Malayalee From India producer Listin Stephen told the media that his movie was being targeted and degraded on social media by people with vested interests.

He averred that it would take a long time if they take the legal route by which time, the film will lose its business.

It all started after scriptwriter Nishad Koya levied plagiarism charges against Malayalee From India director Dijo Jose Antony and writer Sharis Mohammed.

However, after looking into the allegations, the film bodies of Kerala gave a clean chit to the makers.

FEFKA General Secretary B Unnikrishnan clarified that Malayalee From India did have a similarity with Nishad’s script but it was only coincidental.

He faced the wrath of netizens on social media for supporting team Malayalee From India.

Related: Film reviews meant to inform and enlighten, not destroy: Kerala HC

Form your own opinion: Suvin

When South First asked Nadikar scriptwriter Suvin S Somasekharan about the criticism faced by his film, he said people should form an opinion only after watching a movie.

“Certain templates and predetermined words can be fed into audiences before they watch a movie and it is a challenge everyone should be up for,” he pointed out.

The Malayalam cinema was introduced to “review bombing” last year after a handful of movies faced targeted attacks and trolling on various social media platforms in the guise of reviews.

Also Read: Nine booked in first-ever ‘review bombing’ case in Kerala