Vinayak Chakravorty (born 25 March) is an Indian film critic, columnist and film journalist based in New Delhi.
He currently reviews films and writes a fortnightly column on popular culture named The Pulp Pit in Mail Today, where he is employed as Associate Editor in charge of the Entertainment section. His articles on popular culture and column are also regularly featured on the websites of Daily Mail, UK, and India Today.
Chakravorty made his mark as the film critic of Delhi's leading newspaper, the Hindustan Times, between 2001 and 2006 before he joined his present employer.
As a film expert, Chakravorty is invited as guest speaker on cinema by various television channels. He is also occasionally quoted on subjects related to cinema by magazines including Time Magazine, which has called him a "well-known film critic".
In 2012, he was invited to be a member of the Preview Selection Committee that finalises films for the World Cinema and Panorama sections of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), held every year in Goa, India.
Chakravorty was born in Ranchi, a town formerly in the east Indian state of Bihar and now the capital of the subsequently formed state of Jharkhand. He hails from a middle-class Bengali family, the only child of an engineer father and a school teacher mother.
He discovered his passion for journalism in high school, when he was inducted into the board of editors of his school magazine, Endeavour.
After graduation, Chakravorty moved to Kolkata for a few years, where he studied journalism at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, and topped the post-graduate diploma course at the institution.
Chakravorty admits being torn between the options of pursuing higher studies leading to a career in academics and choosing journalism as his calling. One reason is, despite performing well in journalism school, he enrolled in Kolkata's prestigious Jadavpur University for a Masters course in Comparative Literature. However, a month into his MA course, he received an offer from Kolkata's leading English daily, The Telegraph.
Chakravorty quit his MA course to join The Telegraph as a Trainee Journalist in October 1995. He started off as a newsdesk Sub Editor, a job that allowed him to understand the nuances of news sense and newspaper dynamics first hand. During this stint, he also started making his mark as a feature writer, contributing to the Op-Ed and features pages of the newspaper.
In 1997, he left Kolkata to join The Pioneer newspaper in New Delhi, as a Senior Feature Writer in the daily's Sunday section. A year later, thanks to his passion and knowledge of mainstream and offbeat cinema, Chakravorty was given the chance to review films for the newspaper.
Between 1999 and 2001, Chakravorty briefly romanced the emerging medium of the times, the internet. He joined digitalHT.com, the website hosted by Hindustan Times that was subsequently rechristened as go4i.com. During this phase, he anchored the cinema channel of the website in the capacity of Senior Content Writer, cinema channel. All along, he continued to make his mark as a film critic.
Chakravorty joined Hindustan Times in January 2001 as film critic and feature journalist for a fruitful association of over six years that he ended in July 2007 to join Mail Today, the newspaper launched by the prestigious India Today Group in association with The Daily Mail, UK the same year.
Style of critique
Chakravorty's film reviews are noted for their precision of opinion and lucid style, combined with bursts of wry humour.
In various blogs and websites, Chakravorty has been described as a proponent of the school of film critics who approach cinema solely from the entertainment point of view, rather than aesthetic details or the finer language of cinema. Chakravorty defends this, saying that, as a film critic in India, 99 per cent of the films he has to watch in the line of duty — foreign or Indian — are purely commercial ventures solely aimed at earning big money by providing entertainment. In this context, he is considered among the select film critics in India whose ratings rarely go wrong.
However he believes that every film must be reviewed keeping its target audience in mind, which itself does not always translate to box-office success. A critic's star ratings, he adds, should be appreciated and understood in the overall context of his review of a particular film.
Chakravorty's knowledge of world cinema is reflected in his reviews. He labels "just about everything that can projected on a screen" as his favourite kind of cinema, pointing out that good cinema is not genre-specific.
A supporter of the new-age crossover cinema movement in India, Chakravorty welcomes the advent of new-generation Indian filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap, Madhur Bhandarkar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rajkumar Hirani, Dibakar Banerjee and Neeraj Pandey.