In a first-of-its-kind incident in Kerala, police have taken decisive action against social media platforms and online film reviewers in response to a major complaint from a filmmaker who claimed that his work had been maliciously slandered with the goal of blackmail and extortion. The target of this awful act was none other than Ubaini E, the director of “Rahel Makan Kora,” a creator who dared to challenge the murky realm of online review bombardment.
An array of offenders are listed in the FIR filed by the Kochi City Police under sections 385 (extortion) and 120 (o) of the Kerala Police Act. They include the owner of the film marketing company Hains, social media critics Arun Tharanga and Aswanth Kok, Facebook user anoopanu6165, and social media identity soulmates55, and the behemoth platforms YouTube and Facebook.
The director of “Aromalinte Aadyathe Pranayam,” Mubeen Rauf, filed a plea in the Kerala High Court at the same time as this daring move by the authorities. His petition sought to guarantee that cinema critics and social media influencers refrain from posting negative reviews or reviews in general of his films on social media for a minimum of seven days after the film’s premiere. Judge Devan Ramachandran made a significant decision when he appointed Shyam Padman as Amicus Curiae, who precisely identified “review bombing” as the scourge plaguing the film business.
The word alone says a lot. Review bombing, an intentional effort to flood a movie with negative and harsh criticism has evolved into a dangerous tactic used by individuals looking to amass influence or harm a cinematic creation. Acknowledging this threat, the court has called on the state police chief to implement strong measures to prevent “motivated, malicious, negative and propagated reviews and review bombs.
While we talk about one side of the issue, acknowledging and respecting the rights of those who have spent time and money on a product or service is just as crucial as addressing the problem of organized and destructive attacks on creative works. As a form of customer feedback, those who consume products such as movie tickets and cinema have the freedom to voice their genuine thoughts—whether favourable or unfavourable. Maintaining the freedom of speech while safeguarding the creative industry is a difficult task that calls for serious thought and astute answers.
The case in question, with YouTube and Facebook as the accused parties, is significant in ways that go well beyond the current circumstances. It draws light to the urgent need for rules and regulations pertaining to social media and movie reviews, with the film industry facing judicial demands for protection from these organized and coordinated attacks against works of art. They are challenging the apparent legality of the internet, where a few keystrokes may ruin the lives of quite a lot of people who work in the film business.
The Kerala High Court’s decision emphasizes the gravity of the situation and stresses that the film business shouldn’t be subjected to the whims of internet critics who frequently use reviews as barbaric weapons. Review bombing is an act that walks a fine line between free speech and special interests because genuine comments on social networking sites have the potential to degenerate into hateful crimes in an instant.
Although it is fundamental that one be granted the freedom to voice one’s true beliefs, this freedom shouldn’t be utilized as a disguise for those who have other agendas and want to undermine the time, money, and effort that goes into creating movies. The court’s recommendation that the state government create mechanisms to distinguish between legitimate evaluations and reviews that are merely personal vendettas is an excellent move forward.
The severity of the issue is made clear by Ubaini E’s case, which names the social media giants as defendants in relation to several Facebook profiles and YouTube channels. It has been claimed that several critics have made substantial profits by posting negative evaluations just hours after a movie came out.
The battle against review bombing continues here in this realm of thoughts, where artistic expression ought to be fostered. With the success of critically acclaimed films like “Kannur Squad” and “RDX,” the Malayalam cinema industry has proven to be resilient. These incidents, however, serve as a stark reminder of the necessity of defending the filmmaking profession against those who would use organised internet attacks to undermine it.
Review bombing is a complex and critical problem that necessitates striking a careful balance between the protection of artistic activities and the right to free speech. The film business is at a crossroads where it needs to traverse this complex terrain with caution and intelligence since the legal system is now becoming entangled. In the search for a delicate equilibrium between this chaos, Ubaini E’s brave stand against review bombing could act as a spark for reform, encouraging a more nuanced and considerate response to movie reviews and social media criticism.