She gave birth to 'star' power of film reviewers
With Nikhat Kazmi's passing away, we have lost the most powerful film reviewer of India in recent times. She had great command over the language she wrote in. Her power also emanated from the newspaper she wrote for - the Times of India, with largest circulation in the most important film distribution territory of India, spawning Mumbai, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, that brings in almost 33% of the theatrical revenues of a film.
There were many who actually believed that the stars she assigned to a film every Friday could be bought. They were wrong. The factors that influenced her reviews were many but money had nothing to do with it. I have learnt it after having spoken to many producers, PROs, and distributors. The only privilege she sought was a special personal preview of the film. And almost every producer obliged and organized it at her convenience. She was one of the very few among the film reviewers who wielded such power. Filmmakers really believed that apart from the big time stars in their films, they needed her 'stars' as well to create a strong buzz around their film.
She was always generous with small films of little known directors, actors, and filmmakers, the films that were reasonably well made, and used her 'star' power to make them attractive box-office propositions. It helped in the era of multiplexes and of a new class of young upwardly mobile cine-goers who believed in making informed choices and referred to her film reviews very seriously before making their weekend plans.
There were times when we had four or five films releasing the same weekend. I would wonder if she would watch all of them and write her reviews. And on Friday I will find all the films reviewed as copiously as ever. Such patience and perseverance is a testimony to the fact that she was a pakka 'cinemabaaz'. One of the reports mentions that even during her sickness she continued to watch films and review them even if she was wheel chair bound. She reviewed four films just the last week. Such sense of dedication and devotion to one's profession is rare these days. Hats off to her.
Nikhat Kazmi didn't miss her Friday date till the very end and now her readers will miss her on Fridays. The Times of India's film review pages will not be the same now without her reviews and her much sought after 'stars'. May her soul rest in peace.