Road Not Taken is a segment in which people, who have chosen the road less traveled by, share their journey with us. Read the interviews and get inspired! :D
Today, we have Sai Shyam with us in 'Road Not Taken'. Thanks for your time Shyam. How we became friends is a mystery. But you have been a very nice friend from day one. I remember that day I had called you to review the short film Bhimbam, which was made from my short story, and you arrived a little late. Till date, I feel really sorry for making you come and not being able to make you sit in the theater. But the kind of gentleman you emerged to be, without making a fuss about it, amazed me. You are a true gentle man. Let us listen to what he has to say about his unconventional profession!
Hi all, this is Sai Shyam. I am working as a film critic and content head with the movie portal iflickz.com
-Can you tell us more about how you started your career? Your educational background
When I was doing my engineering, I used to send film reviews to Hindu's Nxg and a popular movie portal as a freelancer. But, at that time, I never anticipated that I would be making a career out of this. One thing lead to another, and I am finally here.
-What made you choose reviewing as a profession?
To be honest, the profession chose me initially and later I found happiness in what I was doing. After engineering, I got a couple of offers from IT companies. I joined CTS to give it a shot at software industry. However, within 10 months, I found out that it was not my cup of tea. I was in search of new challenges and I got an offer at my present company to write about movies, something which I always liked to do.
-What was the first film you reviewed on internet? Can you give us the link to that review?
My first write-up cannot be actually termed as a review, as it did not have the regular template of a review. Anyway, my first write-up was for Mynaa, and it instilled me to write about movies seriously. It was published here - http://www.behindwoods.com/features/visitors-1/mynaa-prabhu-solomon-08-11-10.html
-Was it difficult for you to quit an IT job to take up reviewing? Peer pressure? Aunties opposing
Well, it wasn't that difficult for me, thanks to my parents who shielded me from the world. When few people commented that I am ruining my future, my mom stood by me and proudly said 'My son knows what he is doing and I want him to do what keeps him happy. He will shine in whatever he does'.
-Tell us about how your life partner accepted your profession? Do you think it was a difficult decision for her to make?
As my wife Priya's dad is an editor with an overseas newspaper, it was kind of easy for her to understand about my profession. And yes, she has been very supportive and understanding.
-How well do you earn? You don’t have to be specific if you think it is a personal question. We just want people to know that people can earn a living with their passion.
I earn a little more than what I would have been earning if I had stayed back in the software industry. I strongly believe that Irrespective of the field, if one works passionately, money will definitely follow, just that some industry pay instant rewards and some take their own sweet time.
-Tell us about the difficult days. You might have struggled when you had started.
After quitting my IT job, I was not clear if I wanted to make films or write about films. For me, it was a very difficult decision to choose between the two. There have been days when I have gone back to my mom and asked if I have to get back to software industry, only to be motivated by her to do something related to films.
-What was the happiest moment in your professional life?
I feel happy whenever my reviews get noticed by the film-makers and they find my work good. Also, I feel happy when people around me find my reviews fair and balanced. There have been quite a few happy moments, but the happiest one for me is when director Selvaraghavan read my review of 'Mayakkam Enna' and tweeted back 'Thanks you so much. It means a lot to me'.
-What do you think is success? Where do you want to reach?
I have always felt that success is a very subjective term. For some, money means success and for others, recognition means success. For me, success is when you are able to do what your heart says and make sure you never regret any decision made in the past. I would like to be known as a reliable film critic in the long run.
-Do movie makers contact you when you give a poor rating for their movie?
Most of the film-makers generally don't react to negative reviews/ratings. However, a few of them have indeed pinged me expressing their unhappiness.
-When you criticize a movie what kind of difficulty do you face? I am sure there will be fan following for the movie who get in touch with you, not literally though ;)
Whenever I criticize a movie, fanatics mistake that I am criticizing their star, and they don't that understand I am not against anyone. Even some of my close friends have had issues with me, when I trashed their favourite star's movies.
-Tell us about your day to day work life. How many movies do you watch and how does it go for you? Do you watch them alone or as a team?
As the movie industry is very volatile with loads of updates coming in every other minute, I cannot restrict myself to a routine work time. At times, I will have to stretch myself even after midnights whenever new teasers/trailers get released. I prefer to watch the movies alone and I watch 1-3 Tamil movies a week based on the number of releases. I also watch other language films as and when I find time. There have been weeks when I have watched 5-6 movies.
-Plus and minus of your job.
Plus - For a movie buff like me, this is a very exciting job, as you get paid for watching movies and writing on them. You get to interact closely with the stars and learn from them.
Minus - At times, my job doesn't let me spend time with my family, when they need the most. For instance, when you are celebrating a festival at home with your family, I would most probably be at a theatre to watch a new release.
-Do you want to make films in the future?
I would love to make films, or at least write screenplays in the future. I never predicted the journey of my life so far, and I believe in destiny. I am hoping that the best will happen to me.
-In GB LANDs “Road Not Taken” we have a special segment for Confessions. Make a confession. Could be serious or silly.
Can I make it as a sorry cum confession?
I have admired GB's works and I promised her that I will be a friendly editor for her next book. But, due to hectic work schedules, I am unable to keep up my promise. I am sorry for that GB. But, I would love to pen a screenplay with her soon. In fact, I am waiting for her appointment to discuss on this :)
Thanks a lot GB for letting me express myself through this series of questions. I am still not sure if I have achieved anything great to give an interview. So, I would like to call this as a chit-chat session :)