Roger Ebert – A Film Critic With Poet’s Heart


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 11 , 2013           04.35 P.M.

Roger Ebert Memorial Portrait

Roger Ebert Memorial Portrait (Photo credit: faithmouse)

Roger Ebert , the renowned US film critic and TV anchor , who was almost as famous as many of the Hollywood stars , died on April 04 , 2013 aged 70. It is sad that I got introduced to his world very late in my life . I am thankful to internet that I could know him intimately through his blogs , his twitter-handle and his hugely popular columns in newspapers . Now I do follow him on twitter but it all started recently . It all began just now .

Roger Ebert, american film critic.

Roger Ebert, American Film Critic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roger Joseph Ebert

June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013

” No good film is too long and no bad movie is short enough ”.

Roger Ebert was an American journalist, film critic, and screenwriter . He was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death . In 1975, he was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, an award given to newspaper writers . As of 2010, his reviews were syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and abroad . Ebert also published more than 20 books and dozens of collections of reviews .

Described as a “critic with the soul of a poet” Roger Ebert was named the most powerful critic in America by Forbes in 2007.

Writing on his blog on Tuesday i.e. April 02 , 2013 , he said he planned to take a “leave of presence”. He explained: “It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing : reviewing only the movies I want to review.”

But two days later on April 04 , 2013 , he died early in the afternoon at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Ebert, a guest lecturer at the University of Chicago, was said to have been “prolific, almost to the point of disbelief” with the weekend section of the Sun-Times often featuring as many as nine of his interviews, profiles and reviews.

His work included interviews and profiles of notable actors and directors in addition to his reviews – celebrating such legends as Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

In 1969 he took a leave of absence from the Sun-Times to write the screenplay of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for Russ Meyer .

Cover of

Cover of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

He also found television fame on Sneak Previews on PBS . It made Ebert a household name along with fellow critic Gene Siskel – who died in 1999 .  Ebert’s television career was curtailed in 2002 when he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. He was unable to speak and eat after further surgery in 2006.

Film critic Roger Ebert and Hazel Dickens in P...

Movie critic Gene Siskel at the Governor's Bal...

Movie critic Gene Siskel at the Governor’s Ball party after the 1989 Academy Awards, March 29, 1989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing his last blog this week in April 2013 he said: “It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital . So, on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”

His thumbs up and thumbs down reviews were very famous among the connoisseurs of cinema , who read his column or watched his show .

Thumbs down : Classic Ebert reviews :

Stargate (1994) “The movie Ed Wood, about the worst director of all time, was made to prepare us for Stargate.”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) “If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”

Battlefield Earth (2000) “Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way

Armageddon (1998) “No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out.”

North (1994) “I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

His last blog amplifies his persona in the best possible way . I am re-producing the whole piece from his website :


A Leave of Presence

by Roger Ebert

April 2, 2013   |   1032

Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter.  However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.

Typically, I write over 200 reviews a year for the Sun-Times that are carried by Universal Press Syndicate in some 200 newspapers. Last year, I wrote the most of my career, including 306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles. I must slow down now, which is why I’m taking what I like to call “a leave of presence.”

What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What’s more, I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

At the same time, I am re-launching the new and improved and taking ownership of the site under a separate entity, Ebert Digital, run by me, my beloved wife, Chaz, and our brilliant friend, Josh Golden of Table XI. Stepping away from the day-to-day grind will enable me to continue as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and roll out other projects under the Ebert brand in the coming year.


Ebertfest, my annual film festival, celebrating its 15th year, will continue at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, my alma mater and home town, April 17-21. In response to your repeated requests to bring back the TV show “At the Movies,” I am launching a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter in the next couple of weeks. And gamers beware, I am even thinking about a movie version of a video game or mobile app. Once completed, you can engage me in debate on whether you think it is art.

And I continue to cooperate with the talented filmmaker Steve James on the bio-documentary he, Steve Zaillian and Martin Scorsese are making about my life. I am humbled that anyone would even think to do it, but I am also grateful.

Of course, there will be some changes. The immediate reason for my “leave of presence” is my health. The “painful fracture” that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on. At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.

I’ll also be able to review classics for my “Great Movies” collection, which has produced three books and could justify a fourth.

For now, I am throwing myself into Ebert Digital and the redesigned, highly interactive and searchable You’ll learn more about its exciting new features on April 9 when the site is launched. In addition to housing an archive of more than 10,000 of my reviews dating back to 1967 we will also feature reviews written by other critics. You may disagree with them like you have with me, but will nonetheless appreciate what they bring to the party. Some I recruited from the ranks of my Far Flung Correspondents, an inspiration I had four years ago when I noticed how many of the comments on my blog came from foreign lands and how knowledgeable they were about cinema.

We’ll be recruiting more critics and it is my hope that some of the writers I have admired over the years will be among them. We’ll offer many more reviews of Indie, foreign, documentary and restored classic revivals. As the space between broadcast television, cable and the internet morph into a hybrid of content, we will continue to spotlight the musings of Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales, as well as the blog “Scanners” by Jim Emerson, who I first met at Microsoft when he edited Cinemania. The Ebert Club newsletter, under editor Marie Haws of Vancouver, will be expanded to give its thousands of subscribers even bigger and better benefits.


For years I devoutly took every one of my tear sheets, folded them and added them to a pile on my desk. The photo above shows the height of that pile in 1985 as it appeared on the cover of my first book about the movies published by my old friends John McMeel and Donna Martin of Andrews & McMeel. Today, because of technology, the opportunities to become bigger, better and reach more people are piling up too. The fact that we’re re-launching the site now, in the midst of other challenges, should give you an idea how important and Ebert Digital are to Chaz and me. I hope you’ll stop by, and look for me. I’ll be there.

So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.

[ Above portion is Taken from his website ]

Ebert compiled “best of the year” movie lists beginning in the 1960s, thereby helping provide an overview of his critical preferences . His top choices were :

On behalf of all the students and staff of my acting institute  Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I offer my condolences to Ebert’s wife Madame Chaz Hammel-Smith and his family and admirers .

I may not be running the most famous acting school of Mumbai , or the most famous acting institute of India , or the most famous acting academy of bollywood , or the most famous acting institute of the world , I may be small and very insignificant , but I thought it proper to offer my condolences to Madame Chaz and show my respect to the most famous film critic of the world . On his death even Barack Obama , the president of United States of America , expressed his grief . It shows his stature and importance .

Rest in peace sir ! You will be missed a lot . I will always be in touch with you through your website and your books . I will always regret the fact that I came to know you when the end was so close .

[ This blog is not entirely written by me . Name of the movies posted above is taken from Wikipedia . Long introduction of Roger Ebert is taken from his website and his thumbs down quotes about movies have been taken from the various sources and articles posted on the internet . I am indebted and express my gratitude .]



My Blog Space : 2012 in Review


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 01 , 2013           05.00 P.M.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 36,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.




Ode – 4 : To Anusha Rizvi


I wanted to write about Anusha Rizvi and her film ” Peepli [ Live ] ” ever since I watched the film. My initial reaction was of shock and awe. I was unable to believe that a journalist-turned-director, who is a first timer, can make such a poignant film about rural India. It is so well-written and treated with such a sensitive way that after the film gets over, you are unable to believe that the story of Natha is over. It speaks volumes about the legendary conviction of Aamir Khan also, who backed the film to the hilt and saw to it that it gets a mainstream release. But had the film been a mediocre one, any amount of publicity, any amount of hype would have been gone awry. So in my opinion, the stupendous success does not stand only at the door of  the producer of ” Peepli [Live ] ” . Aamir Khan deserves full marks for agreeing to produce the film. He should be congratulated for having implicit faith in a debutante and a wannabe director Anusha Rizvi. But Anusha Rizvi also deserves distinction marks because she could justify the faith imposed in her by her star producer and his banner.



Image via Wikipedia


She becomes the second Indian, after Satyajit Ray, whose debut film is going to the Oscars. Isn’t it incredible? ” Pather Panchali ” and ” Peepli [ Live ] ”  have few things in common. Both the films are the debut films of their directors and both the films depict the story of rural India. Recent Hindi films have been city centric and since the new crop of the directors are ignorant of our rural ethos, their films are based in urban India and they cater to urban people only. ” Peepli [ Live ] ” beaks this rule and that too quite poignantly and successfully. Like Satyajit Ray’s ” Pather Panchali ” it portrays rural India’s poverty, misery and simple way of life. It portrays the forgotten village life of India’s approximately 5,75,000 villages.


Apu and his sister Durga running to catch a gl...

Image via Wikipedia - Famous Scene Of Pather Panchali


Rural India has fascinating stories to tell and this debutante director Anusha Rizvi decides to tread the unbeaten path and succeeds impressively like her predecessor legendary Satyajit Ray.


Satyajit Ray.

Image via Wikipedia


Aamir Khan is also unique in a way that his first film as a producer ” Lagaan ”  was a village-centric film. It was India’s official entry to the Oscars and it was selected also in the foreign films category. Only 5 Indian films have qualified for the Oscars so far. incidentally ” Peepli [ Live ] ”  is Aamir’s 4th film, which is selected for the Oscars – ” Lagaan” ,  ” Rang De Basanti “,  ” Taare Zameen Par ” and now ” Peepli [ Live ] “.


Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) with his cricket team cons...

Image via Wikipedia - Aamir's Cricket Team in Lagaan


I have become a huge fan of Anusha Rizvi and wish her all the success !



Udaipur – Rajasthan – India





Vidur’s Film Diary – September 2010

Its September and ” Dabangg “ is creating history at the box office.It becomes the second highest grosser of all times. It is next only to ” 3 Idiots “.

To emphasise my points and to show latest trends in the industry, I am quoting few relevant tweets of eminent trade analyst Mr. Taran Adarsh :

taran_adarsh Midweek B.O.: ‘We Are Family’ under-performs, has Rs. 14.2 cr. weekend


‘We Are Family’ Update II: Thu: Rs. 2.7 cr., Fri: Rs. 3 cr., Sat: Rs. 4 cr., Sun: Rs. 4.5 cr. The jump in business is missing.


Okay, for those curious to know how many screens ‘Dabangg’ opens in India, well, the number is 1584 screens.


‘Dabangg’ Update: Biggest opening so far [amongst 2010 releases] in Rajasthan.


UAE Update: ‘Dabangg’ 1 million Dirhams. Creates history.

FRIDAY TOTAL: ‘Dabangg’ Rs. 14.5 cr. ‘3 Idiots’ Rs. 13 cr.


‘Dabangg’ I: Has shattered all records and emerged the biggest opener ever. Has crossed the opening weekend business of ‘3 Idiots’.


‘Dabangg’ Monday Rs. 10 cr., Fri to Mon total Rs. 58.5 cr. nett. ‘3 Idiots’ Thu previews to Monday was Rs. 52 cr. nett.


Dabangg emerges the biggest opener ever of Hindi cinema. Collected approx Rs 81 cr. nett in Week 1, overtaking the Week 1 total of 3 Idiots


‘Inception’ is Incredible. Has set a new record for Hollywood films at Indian boxoffice. Completed 50 days at 45 plexes across the country.


Luckily there were no deaths in the industry this month.

New Releases & Me

First Week – September 03

1 – We Are Family……………………………………….Kareena Kapoor
………………………………………………………………Arjun Rampal

2 – The Film Emotional Atyachar………………………x

3 – Mallika………………………………………………..Sammir Dattani
……………………………………………………………..Himanshu Mallik
……………………………………………………………..Pooja Ballutia

Second Week – September 10

1 – Dabangg………………………………………………Sonu Sood
……………………………………………………………..Arbaaz Khan

Third Week – September 17

1 – Life Express……………………………………….Divya Dutta

Fourth Week – September 24

1 – Ek Aadat……………………………………………x

In total ..6… films got released this month. Out of these..6….films , my …..8……students were there in….4….films. Out of these ..8….students …7… are actors,and …1…..Arbaz Khan is the producer & actor both.

News This month :

1 – Amitabh Bachchan got National Award for ” Paa ” as Best Actor . His 4th after ” Saat Hindustani “, ” Agnipath ” and ” Black ” .

2 – The Film Federation of India selected Aamir Khan‘s ” Peepli [ Live ] “ as India’s official entry for the oscars in the Best Foreign Film category.

3 – ” Peepli [ Live ] ” is the fourth Aamir Khan film that is going to the Oscars after ” Lagaan ” , ” Rang De Basanti ” and ” Taare Zameen Par ” .

4 – ” Peepli [Live ] “ got Best Feature Film Award at the Durban Film Festival.

5 – ” Peepli [ Live ] ” had won Anusha Rizvi the Best Debutante Director Award at the Sundance Festival .

6 – The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences have approached Prakash Jha for acquiring the sceenplay of ” Raajneeti ” .

7 – Mani Ratnam was awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmaker Award at the 67th Venice Film Festival for ” Raavanan ” , the Tamil version of ” Raavan ” .

8 – The government has lifted the ban on Satyajit Ray’s 1971 documentary film on Sikkim, after almost 35 years after its imposition.

9 – ONV Kurup [ Lyricist of Malayalam films like ” Madhanolsavam ” and his latest ” Pazhasi Raja ” ] and Shahryar [ Lyricist of ” Umrao Jaan ” & ” Gaman ” ] got Jnanpith Award for the year 2007 and 2008 respectively.

10 – Udan wins Best Film Award at the Houston Film Festival.


1 – Dev Anand , Yash Chopra , Lata Mangeshkar and Ranbir Kapoor celebrated their birthday this month.

National Awards & Me

57th National Film Awards were announced on September 16th . None of my students won National Awards this year. But there are 3 films, which got awards and in these films my 5 students were there as actors. I am proud to be part of following 3 National Award winning films. These films are :

1 – ” 3 Idiots ” [ Most Popular Film ]…………..Kareena Kapoor

2 – ” Delhi 6 ” [ National Integration ]…………Sonam Kapoor

3 – ” Well Done Abba ” [ Social Issues ]………………….Sammir Dattani ,
………………………………………………………………………..Minissha Lamba ,
………………………………………………………………………..Divya Dutta




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