About the Platform
The Review Monk is a website which primarily rates movies by aggregating critic reviews from major Indian publications, for all the Hindi and English films released in India (we plan to add regional films this year). It also provides a platform for audiences to score these films, write reviews, rate individual star performances, create movie lists and more. They can share these user reviews and lists on other social media as well.
With the rising cost of entertainment and a host of options at multiplexes, it can be very valuable for movie-goers to quickly figure out which one is most likely to be worth their money and time. Moreover, through our suggestions, they will also discover many independent films that are usually only known in film festival circuits.
Unlike most entertainment websites, TRM focuses only on rating the quality of a film and is devoid of any other gossip or promotional news surrounding them.
Founded by the husband-wife duo Rohith Ravindranath and Ruhi Sinha.
Rohith Ravindranath: Rohith grew up in Bangalore, India and has had the good fortune of following his childhood passion for video games by developing for titles such as ‘DeadSpace2’, ‘Medal of Honor’ and ‘Command and Conquer’ while working at Electronic Arts. He currently lives in Los Angeles and this is his first independent venture.
Ruhi Sinha: Ruhi grew up in Mumbai and Goa. She works as a computer graphics artist in Hollywood. Some of her film credits include Academy Award nominated ‘The Croods’, ‘Kung Fu Panda2’, ‘Turbo’ and the upcoming ‘How to Train Your Dragon2’.
Paresh Jha: Paresh Jha is the founder of the website and will be joining our team in early February. Paresh has been writing frequently about Indian Independent films for about 2 years now and has interviewed many filmmakers at various film festivals.
Whom do we cater to?
We cater to anyone who cares a little about what films they’re spending their valuable time and money watching, and to the Cinephiles who also love to discover movies that may be unheard of in popular media but are making this discovery through film festivals and word-of-mouth.
What do we offer to our consumers?
We offer a one-stop-shop to find currently running and upcoming (and older) Hindi and English films released in India, with their aggregate scores from major Indian film critics. Users have a platform to review and score these movies and share it within their social circle. We offer many other features like adding movies to your watch-list, favorites list, rating performances of stars, creating movie lists for a topic of your choice and more.
We have profiles for each film critic (which shows you all their reviews and their rating pattern) as well as for the cast and crew members (with their filmography).
We also feature independent Indian films and recommend them on the site based on the buzz from international film festivals.
What motivated us to start up?
Both of us enjoy watching good films. When we first moved to Los Angeles, we used to catch Hindi films every now and then in a city suburb, but it was a long drive in the city’s infamous traffic. More often than not, we ended up picking films that did not live up to our expectations. So eventually we gave up the whole routine. Even though we worked in the entertainment industry, in a couple years, we had nearly lost all touch with Indian films. One evening we were contemplating on why that had happened and what we could do to bridge the gap. That’s when we came up with the idea of building an India cinema centric site, which was tasteful, opinionated and free of page 3 gossip.
What’s in a name?
The ‘monk’ signifies wisdom and good judgement. We are not projecting any one person’s opinion for scoring a film. The goal is to give the user a ‘collective’ score based on many expert opinions and in doing that, we hopefully get rid of any prejudices involved.
How do we see Social Media?
Social media has made the world a much more opinionated and informed place. And at the same time it has added a lot of white noise in our lives. At TRM, we firmly believe in the power of public opinion and we also believe that with time, users will become much more selective about what they want to read about or see in their social media feed at a given time – like TV on demand.
Today, when we want to dine out, we want a service that tells us what restaurants we’re most likely to enjoy within a 5 km radius, based on our taste and wallet size. And we also want to quickly read what others are saying about these places. TRM wants to be a similar service – to help you discover and to save your time and money on entertainment.
Currently we are….
Close to launching an Android app which will give you instant access to all scores, critic and audience reviews for movies that are running in theaters and also allows you to search for any other film released in the past.
We are also excited to announce the merger with New York based ‘India Independent Films’ (IIF). We’re in talks with IIF founder Paresh Jha and the current plan is to port their existing content and bring it under ‘The Review Monk’ umbrella. Paresh brings a lot of experience to the table and we consider it a highly valuable partnership.
In the few months since we have gone live, we have received praise from some prominent critics like Anupama Chopra and Karan Anshuman, which means a great deal to us.
Our biggest challenge was..
Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge for any independent venture like ours is to get the word out. We chose to do this as a fun project and did not give any serious thought to looking for venture capital. It turned out to be a lot more work than we imagined! Our Google ranking has been steadily climbing week after week, but it’s high time we looked for capital to market ourselves and expand the team.
We want to dominate the world by..
We don’t have ambitions to dominate the world :). All we set out to do was to create an aesthetically appealing and mentally stimulating online stop for people like us who love cinema and appreciate art in general. And in India, there’s a considerable impact of cinema on culture. We feel that Bollywood has become extremely focused on box office collections, glamour and grandeur and a lot of the work is uninspired and recycled.
Yet there are many contemporary Indian filmmakers whose more original work is being recognized and appreciated all over the world. We hope that through people’s opinion and critique, the latter gets more attention and becomes more of a norm than the exception in the industry.
We’re making moolah by…
We haven’t monetized yet. The plan is to open up for ads in the near future. Our long-term goal is to tie up with theaters for ticket bookings, but we have many miles to go before that.
Our What The **** Moment
(Ruhi’s answer): My day job is to work as an artist at Dreamworks animation studios and when our movies released in India last year, I could not do anything about how they were being scored on TRM. Some critics are really generous and some can make you go ‘ouch’! It was interesting to be on the receiving end on our own website.
Industry as we foresee
We think that social media is still trying to figure itself out. We constantly hear about users shifting their loyalty towards things that offer more ‘exclusivity’ and there’s almost no room for product mediocrity. So in the coming years, we’ll see social media becoming more personalized – attuned to people’s individual tastes, providing more intelligent filters and hopefully addressing their concerns about privacy.
Lastly, Are you hiring?
Not at the moment. But we hope to hire developers and content writers as soon we receive financial backing.