Storytellers should not be afraid of reviews even if they are bad, director R Balki said on Monday about his new film "Chup: Revenge of the Artist" about a serial killer who targets film critics.
The film, starring Sunny Deol as a policeman racing against time to catch the killer, Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhanwanthary in lead roles, explores misunderstandings between filmmakers and critics and why they often lead to fights, Balki said.
When the psychological thriller releases on Friday, Balki said he hopes that reviewers are honest in their analysis of the film.
"What would matter to me is their honesty. I hope they're honest about the film and they critique it, not criticise it. When you say critiquing, it is about analysing the film. What's right and what's wrong in a film. That would be far more healthier for me," said at a press conference.
"It would be wrong to say I don't care whether they give stars or not. Of course it matters. We are all sensitive people. But am I going to spend sleepless nights over it? No, I'm not going to. We all hope people write kindly, but I'm not going to be scared. You can't be scared in a creative profession," the 57-year-old "Paa" and "Cheeni Kum" director added.
In the filmmaking profession, there is no room for being scared of criticism or backlash, Balki said.
"You have to kind of put it out there. All of us have to be objective about a story that's being told. Like when we tell a story about cops. We show so many corrupt cops. But we're not scared that the cops will come and shut down the theatres. We can't live like that.
"Similarly, a film on politicians. We can't be scared that politicians are gonna get angry and shut ourselves up."
His film, he said, is neither anti-critic nor pro-critic.
"This is a film that explores the flaws of our mentality from both perspectives -- from the industry side as well as the critics side. It looks at the things that can happen if misunderstandings are not sorted out," he said.
However, "Chup..." is also a fun film and romantic in a lot of ways, Balki said.
"Even though it is about a serial killer, it has a different kind of mood. It's not a scary film."
The idea for the movie came to Balki when his first film "Cheeni Kum" was released in 2007 and there were some reviews that heavily criticised it.
"An artiste is killed every day and they all die through words. Killing does not need a weapon. You can be killed with words. I've always thought about the accountability of a critic. Who is there to review a critic? They write and we die everyday, who is there to criticise you? No one.
"From my personal experience, the first film that I made, I thought I made it good. But when I read the first review by an imminent critic of that time... I felt very depressed by it and I haven't recovered from that depression till date," the former ad man said.
"Chup: Revenge of the Artist" is produced by Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Anil Naidu, Dr. Jayantilal Gada (PEN Studios) and Gauri Shinde.
The screenplay and dialogues are co-written by Balki, critic-turned-writer Raja Sen and Rishi Virmani. Vishal Sinha is credited as director of photography on the project.