Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Million Dollar Question???????

One of my friends, who is an avid blogger herself, set me thinking with her remarks on my last post, concerning the movie Gulaal and its realistic, hard-hitting concept. So, if anyone of my readers feels bored by the end of this post, blame her ;))
I have been thinking on the issue raised by Priyanka that "Does it make any sense that a person, already seeing a hell lot of reality in REAL LIFE, pays money to see more of it???"
Well, I am myself a fan of movies that take me through the tear-drama, romantic escapades and stomach-aching comedy (a la Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra, Rakesh Roshan, Rajkumar Hirani, etc, etc, etc,,,). Believe me, I watch each one of them, as and when I get time and money (more important of the two!!!!)
I mean who wouldnt have laughed along with Munnabhai, Circuit as they went from ward to ward, curing patients and bringing a smile to their faces (to borrow a cliche!) even as Dr Asthana hemmed and hawed over their antics.
I am sure not an eye was left dry when Shahrukh Khan's tear-jerking look came onscreen as he explains to his mother, played by Reema Lagoo, why he cant reciprocate Naina's (Preity Zinta) love because of his heart ailment.
When Rakhee's earnest character of a mother, waiting for her two dead sons to be born again, says, "Mere Karan Arjun Aayenge..Zaroor Aayenge.." well, we believe her against all common sense, because we know "Ki asli zindagi mein bhi filmon ki tarah end mein sab kuch theek ho jata hai, aur agar sab kuch theek na ho, to yeh samajh lena chahiye ki picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost..."
See, films provide an answer to almost every situation, every question, every doubt of our life and thus, there is no overlooking the fact that cinema, in our country and our life, is basically a time machine that takes us away from our daily vagaries, into the arms of a life that we all dream of or strive for. You just have to travel to the southern part of the country and see for yourself, the idol worship that goes on for Rajnikant, Chiranjeevi, and others, who have passed away long ago, like M.G. Ramachandran and N.T. Ramarao.
But all said and done, is cinema just that??????
Should we, a nation of one billion and still poor to a large extent, allow such a costly mass medium to play only one role, that of helping us escape from what we, so fearfully, encounter in our daily life?
Sample a scenario: you are sitting inside your living room, switching channels with the remote, when, you come across an image from any of the three states of Rajasthan, Punjab or Haryana, that of an infant girl child, who is dead and has just been dug out from beneath a pile of earth, after she was put in there by her own father, grandfather, or uncle just because she was born a girl!!! I am sure you would keep thinking about that child for the rest of your day.
Sample another one: In 2001, the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr M Karunanidhi (I hope he is not reading this) being bodily picked up, with his trademark sunglasses, his chappals and his hair in disarray, and taken to the police station on the orders of the erstwhile CM, Jayalalitha. The visuals shown on television at that time were enough for some of us to tut tut! at the degenerating standard of politics in the country while most of us just shook our heads in disbelief, wondering what lay round the corner for us, the lesser mortals.
These two scenarios, out of a million more, took place in two different corners of the country but people all over the country knew about it within hours, if not minutes, and an opinion was formed, which went on to contribute largely to the changing scenario of our country's social, economic, political, educational faces.
Such is the power of a mass medium and it is in this vein that I ask, should we not use this widely popular and all-encompassing medium to help ourselves get familiar with the brutally difficult life that breathes inside the conundrums that make up our underbelly, be it inside the economic capital Mumbai or the brackish backwaters of UP and Bihar or even our national capital, Delhi?
My Gulaal post from last week was in anticipation of the release of the much-awaited movie by Anurag Kashyap, which was first conceived in 2001, about eight years ago. The movie deals with student politics and the crusade for the lost glory of "Rajputana", with both the issues getting intertwined by the end, which, I agree, was a little off-kilter (hope you read it Anurag).
I liked the movie, though, it is not without limitations but the question that arises out of this discussion is that whether movies should be purely escapist or should there be a balance of dreams with reality?
As far as I am concerned, it is important to balance the cinema of our times in terms of its content, which can be both escapist as well as realistic.
It is important to dream because unless you dream of something, it never happens. Similarly, the realistic cinema of our times is a means to make that dream come. After all, what do we dream of, a better social order, better opportunities for all, economic equanimity and an ESCAPE from the bad things that ARE HAPPENING all around us, isn't it??
So there, the cinema, whether escapist or realistic is not that different from each other. The only difference is that in the former, we continue to live inside that dream albeit hypothetically, while in the latter, we are shaken out of our slumber and goaded to make the dreams come true. The difference, however, lies in that some of us ignore that call while some of us accept it and set out to work......
Well, you cant make your dreams come true unless you work on them, right???


Priyanka Khot said...

I would again beg to differ. With due respect, the two scenarios that you mentioned are news stories and not cinema... and inadvertently you backed my claims that REAL LIFE has too much reality.

Secondly, what is being sold as reality cinema is just a selective side of reality, which ends up throwing stereotypes, worse than the ones formula films serve, at an audience which has heard about the so called POOR people and not interacted with them at any level ever.

You are correct to point out that films are a mass media and this is the reason why i strongly believe that they should obligatorily fulfill the purpose of Entertaining more than anything.


fatoori said...

while the two of you debate over what cinema SHOULD be and what cinema SHOULD do,let me try to explain something little different..cinema has always had several roles to play so that it could serve both d priyankas and the yaminis.. one of those many roles is dat of a mirror..aaina kai baar aapko wo nahi dikhata jo aap dekhna chaahte hain..aap kai baar sochte hain ki aaj aap bahot khoobsoorat lag rahe hain aur aap khade ho jaate hain aaine ke saamne ye sochkar ki din ka pehla complmnt wahi dega aapko..aur tabhi aapko jhatka lagta hai jab aaine aapko kehta hai ki aap is dress me mote lag rahe hain, ya aapki lipstick match nahi kar rahi hai, ya aapke baal bahot bure lag rahe hain ya aapki dress pe koi daag lag gaya hai jo aapko khud nazar nahi aa raha tha..

cinema is only what d society is..jab society me unrest hoga, that will reflect in cinema, much more than in any other medium..jis din we will hav a balanced population, wnderful GDP, shining per capita income, nearly 100% literacy, no malnutrition, us din se filmen ban ni band ho jaengi..

the so-called reality cinema is an inevitability.so at least I find myself unable to debate over what its objective should be.