In 1964, Pierre Brassau exhibited a number of abstract paintings at the Gallerie Christinae in Göteborg, Sweden. Rolf Anderberg, a critic from the Göteborgs-Posten wrote, “Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer.” The only problem with the critique was that Pierre Brassau was actually a chimpanzee named Peter, who resided at Sweden’s Borås Djurpark zoo.

This little hoax is indicative of the age-old struggle between artist and critic. And this is the problem some people have in modern culture with “reaction videos.” According to Wikipedia, “Reaction videos are videos in which people react to events. In particular, videos showing the emotional reactions of people viewing television series episodes, film trailers and music videos are numerous and popular on video hosting services such as YouTube.”

One such YouTube channel featuring reaction videos is Jaby Koay. Jaby and his sidekick Achara Kirk discuss and critique films, shorts, and videos, mostly of the Indian Cinema and Bollywood variety. And although neither reactor is of Indian descent, the channel currently has 1.58 million subscribers and well over a billion views.

Jaby and Achara exhibit great chemistry, they certainly have a lot of passion for their subject matter, and they share an enormous amount of respect for Indian culture. Moreover, they do a very credible job of deconstructing and analyzing Indian films. However, another reason for their popularity and success is that both Jaby and Achara are filmmakers themselves. They are artists who understand the bare-knuckle reality of film production.

Jaby has been a commercial actor in Los Angeles for the past fifteen years, and he’s been featured in a number of national ad campaigns. Achara, who studied acting at the Oxford School of Drama, has also been a commercial actor for years, working in Thailand, The UK, Canada, and the United States.

If there’s any question as to the veracity of the channel, just think of the amount of content the two produce; there is a seemingly endless parade of compelling digital videos on the site. It takes a considerable skill set and broad-spectrum talent to write, direct, perform, shoot, produce, edit, and add music to such a wide-variety of vignettes—not to mention, good old-fashioned diligence and hard work.

With years of honing the crafts of film making and acting, Jaby and Achara are not seen as rank critics or garden-variety haters in the world of reaction videos. Rather, they both understand the challenges and rigors of the creative process from start to finish, and they respect the craft of cinematics. Consequently, Jaby and Achara’s critiques of Indian film fare are roundly welcomed by the YouTube community, even though not every review is positive.

Let’s face it, American audiences having a better understanding of Indian Cinema is not such a bad thing at all. Americans can be a bit ethnocentric as it concerns the motion picture industry, and a broader view and deeper appreciation of global cinema is a step in the right direction. And couldn’t we all use a little more singing and bright colors and awesome dance sequences and hand-crafted costumes in our lives? I think you know the answer to that one!

“We came empty-handed, we go empty-handed, only two sweet words of love to hum, so let’s make this fun-loving world smile.” – Ek Pal Ka Jeena – Kaho Na Pyaar Hai

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