Ode – 3 : To Manoj Night Shyamalan

Manoj Night Shyamalan’s new film ” The Last Airbenderwas released this week and as has become the fashion, it has been unequivocally and mercilessly panned by the critics. I am so anguished by this behaviour of learned critics that now I am turning into a follower and I am becoming a biased fan of Mr. Shyamalan. I always wonder, why the western critics are so vehemently against Mr. Shyamalan and why almost all his films are invariably panned ? Let us have a look on all the films which he has made so far:

1 – PRAYING WITH ANGER – ( 1992 ) :

He made this film while he was still studying in New York university. He borrowed money from his family, friends and from relatives and apart from writing the script, also acted in it. It was not released commercially, so I am not counting it or taking it in reckoning.

2 – WIDE AWAKE – ( 1998 ) :

Six years after making his first amateurish film, Mr. Shyamalan made this film which was released commercially. Though it got completed in 1995, it was released in 1998.

3 – THE SIXTH SENSE – ( 1999  ):

This third film of Mr. Shyamalan is his first commercial success. It was released in 1999 and it is Mr. Shyamalan’s biggest hit so far. Made with the budge of $ 40 million,  it earned $ 660 million worldwide. It was nominated for Academy Awards in 6 categories including best picture, best director and best original screenplay. Starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, this film is the 6th biggest grosser of all times in Hollywood history.

4 – UNBREAKABLE – ( 2000 )  :

This 4th film of Mr. Shyamalan was made with the budget of $ 73.2 million and it grossed $ 244 million worldwide. Bruce Willis again worked with Mr. Shyamalan along with Samuel L. Jackson.

5 –  SIGNS – ( 2002 )  :

This Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix starrer had budget of $ 72 million and it grossed $ 635 million worldwide. Incidentally this film is Mel Gibson’s most successful film ever and is the highest grosser of Mel Gibson’s career.

6 – THE VILLAGE – ( 2004 ) :

This Joaquin Phoenix starrer was made with the budget of $ 71.6 million and it grossed $ 256.2 million worldwide. It was nominated for one Academy Award, though it was panned by the critics.

7 – LADY IN THE WATER – ( 2006 ) :

This film was a definite flop and it could not recover its cost. The ignominy of  the matter was that it was nominated at 27th Golden Raspberry Awards in 4 categories. I do admit and  consider that it is a bad film.

8 – THE HAPPENING – (  2008 ) :

Though panned by critics this film grossed $ 163.3 worldwide. It was the 3rd highest grosser of that year.

9 – THE LAST AIRBENDER – ( 2008 ) :

This film got released this week and its box office result is still awaited. Its budget is $ 150 million and it’s opening weekend collection is  $ 70 million .

Out of 9 films, his first film was not a commercially released film. So out of remaining 8 films, the result of his latest offering is still awaited. So if we go through the statistics of remaining 7 films, he has given only 1 flop and  6 blockbusters. Isnt it an enviable record ? Isnt it praise worthy ? Isnt it commendable ? For western critics it is not . They call him ” one track pony ” and they decorate him with all sorts of pejoratives. They have already written his obituary. He is subjected to this kind of ridicule in spite of his enviable track record. All the films of a maker can’t be  masterpieces. No one can claim to have 100% track record. So why western critics so vehemently oppose him and why almost all his films are invariably panned ? I am copying and pasting an article, published in THE SUN to substantiate my point :


Entertainment Movies

The downfall of M. Night


Last Updated: July 10, 2010 2:00am

M. Night Shyamalan (<A HREF=
M. Night Shyamalan (WENN.COM file photo)

HOLLYWOOD — It was a particularly sizzling July afternoon during the summer of 1999 when I trudged across the Disney Studios Burbank lot toward my appointed destination.

To tell the truth, by then an air-conditioned screening room held a lot more promise than what was being shown — some new Bruce Willis thriller.

After all, Willis hadn’t exactly been box office dynamite in recent years, what with stuff like The Siege and The Jackal.

So I selected a seat positioned directly beneath an air vent and settled in just as the lights started to go down.

Some two hours later I was effectively chilled — and it had absolutely nothing to do with the A/C.

It had everything to do with The Sixth Sense.

By the time it officially hit theatres a couple of weeks later, the drama with the killer twist ending and the haunted kid who saw dead people was well on its way to becoming a pop culture phenomenon.

Everyone was asking, who’s this M. Night Shyamalan guy and where did he come from?

A decade later, they’re asking why he’s still here.

Because, in recent years, with the exception of, say, Signs, his subsequent output has become increasingly ridiculous, not to mention eye-rolling pretentious.

M. Night has fallen.

From the laugh-out-loud ludicrous big reveal of The Village (his final association with Disney) to the laugh-out-loud ludicrous (period) Lady in the Water to the just plain inept The Happening, each new film seemed to bring Shyamalan to fresh artistic lows.

Along the way, a succession of studios took the bait, only to be left holding the bag when audiences would ultimately catch on to the fact that the latest effort “from the director of Sixth Sense and Signs” was no Sixth Sense or Signs.

Not only could Shyamalan no longer justify the rare, hands-off autonomy he had earned from studio execs thanks to those early successes, but he was running out of places willing to bankroll another of his cloaked-in-secrecy scripts.

With last weekend’s arrival of The Last Airbender, meanwhile, came the hope that, since the subject matter originated, not from Shyamalan’s once-fertile imagination, but from a hit Nickelodeon animated series, the downward spiral might be curbed.

But while the special effects were decent, the movie as a whole earned him his worst notices yet.

That it nevertheless opened over the traditionally lucrative Fourth of July holiday weekend with a solid $70 million was attributed mainly to the marketing powers of Paramount Pictures.

Determined to protect its $150 million production investment, the studio pumped in almost as much for a worldwide awareness campaign pulling out all stops to get fans of the original series into theatres over the weekend ahead of the nasty warning Tweets.

The majority of those who turned up over the weekend were males under the age of 25 who had been big fans of the animated series and were likely in the market for something — anything — other than The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Or maybe they were just in it for the air conditioning.


Michael Rechtshaffen is a Canadian entertainment writer based in Los Angeles.


After reading this article, can you still feel that this criticism is fair and not biased ? If his recently released film collected $ 70 million in the first weekend, is it proper to say that audiences are going just to spend some time in the air-conditioned hall ? Sorry, I have tolerated enough and I am not going to take this insult any more. Western press is biased and they are behaving like  racists of worst kind. You may not like the film, you may not like the direction, but you can’t write the obituary of an artiste whose track record is so impeccable. Every director can make bad films. Every maker has given damp squibs. But no critic can say that a particular artiste is finished. In Mr. Shyamalan’s case this is happening too often and too soon. Mr. Shyamalan is a master craftsman and barring one or two , all his films are  blockbusters. Alfred Hitchcock also made same kind of films throughout his life and no one called him ” one track pony “. Some of his films today look mediocre, but to say that he was a mediocre director, would be blasphemous and will be considered a sacrilege.

American media sang paeans to ” SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE ” , which was definitely a mediocre film. Since it was made by a British , it got many Academy Awards. But an Indian Mr. Shekhar Kapoor or a P.I.O. ( person of Indian origin ) Mr. Manoj Night Shyamalan are panned and their films are ridiculed mercilessly and vehemently. If this is not racist behaviour, then can anyone enlighten me, what is it ?





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