Even as audiences and filmmakers rue the fact that reviews on YouTube are turning more and more acrimonious, here’s something to cheer about, especially for #90skids (as they say on Twitter). Someone who’s built a reputation for his balanced reviews, with a smile, and for not using a hurtful word against anyone in the film, is now turning his attention to YouTube.
On August 15, Hot&Cool Media uploaded a 3.38-minute review of Comali by Dr R Sureshkumar, of Sun TV’s Top 10 Movies fame. The show has been discontinued, but Sureshkumar continues to work with Sun TV.
It has already garnered more than 3.1 lakh views, and more than 5,700 comments, one of which says, “the don is back”. In reality, the don is a medical microbiologist who has been teaching for nearly two decades now. His PhD was on leptospirosis (and the one thing that gets his goat is logic taking the backseat in a script based on technology, medicine or science.)
After nearly 20 years of hosting Top 10 Movies, Sureshkumar, a familiar face for kids of the 90s and the first decade of the new millennium, has turned YouTuber. In the 90s, he was possibly the only anchor to host a programme that listed Tamil films that released each week and arranged them according to his order of preference… all this wearing a suit.
Now that he’s on this platform, Sureshkumar has already worked out the format for two programmes. One is for Hot&Cool Media, where he will review the week’s releases (each film will receive his trademark punch-line). The second is Movies On Screen, for his own channel The Stager’s Television, where he will do a short segment on films playing in theatres, without rating them in any particular order (And yes, these will have his punch lines too).
After his review of Comali was released, social media was abuzz with nostalgia. The Tamil meme army was out in force too, tagging new-age reviewers and telling them their time was up. Sureshkumar then shared the first review he shot, for Nerkonda Paarvai, with the punchword: Netrikann (third eye).
Sureshkumar acknowledges all the love that has been coming his way, over nearly two decades (from 1998-August 2019) and 1,088 continuous weeks of programming. “It’s a blessing people still like me and my way of approaching a film. I adopt the same rule I follow while teaching — never hurt anyone. My students love me and give me 100 per cent attendance. If you respect them, they will show up. I have been a student and wanted a certain kind of teacher who would be kind; I am that kind of teacher now. When reviewing movies, I speak about the film, but am very particular about not using any harsh words; that helps no one. Since I am a person of science, I definitely call out science-related blunders in films, and have landed in trouble too, because of that. I think experts in every field should call out wrong portrayals. When you’re speaking fiction, you can showcase anything. But, if you mention something scientific, you need to follow scientific corroborations. You cannot murder science. That way, cinema will aspire for authenticity.” Sureshkumar did this most notably with Dasavatharam and its Ebola reference.
Sureshkumar started work on a film he was to produce, but it got stalled, and he hopes to direct one sometime soon. Now, he has teaching and reviews to keep him engaged.
Over the years, Sureshkumar’s programmes have been known for their ‘punch words’ — he sums up every film he reviews in one succinct word. For Comali, it was ‘Balasaali’ (strong). “This is something I’ve learned over the years, working with my team. To refine lines and find one word that conveys the essence of the film and also syncs with the title.” Some punch words have also landed Sureshkumar in trouble, because the makers felt slighted. “Sometimes, we have struggled for half an hour to find one word. 96 was dubbed Thaenaaru (river of honey),” he recalls.
Photocredit: Sureshkumar’s Facebook page
The Dr R Sureshkumar Interview Is A Silverscreen Exclusive