Films & Television, Society & Culture

Warning! Premature Culture Ahead.

Every Thursday marks an interesting incident in my trivial life. It’s the utterance of words in age of silence, and life between the timid pauses. As human nature goes, its the expectation of something great that gives you more high, than the actuality of it. The reason being the superior nature of human imagination, which easily wins over predictability of the mundane. Thursday brings with it, a great deal of  energy and anticipation, because usually it is followed by a friday, and friday, brings with it a new film, filled with newer emotions, newer dreams, and new horizons. Who knows what a film could do? It could change you completely, or leave you untouched.

However, in India, it does nothing better than creating a nice little dent in your pocket or time. Time and again I have been a party to a debate where people say great things about the recently released films. Their claim is that these films are great by Indian standards. This includes list of films like 3 idiots, Rang De Basanti, Don ( farhan akthar one), Kaminey and many more. While I admit to having enjoyed these films myself, I somehow do not believe in whatever that people define as ‘Indian Standard’. Why do we want to have a separate standard for art? Would it be right to expect lesser standards from our doctors, mba grads, engineers, or even authors? If your answer is a tentative no, let me assure you that you are probably closer to saving this country from a cultural disaster than bunch of moralistic hooligans. Unlike literature, where audience is limited, or scientific fields where quality can be measured on stats, its very difficult to judge a film. Our expectations as a unified entity, are as variable as the profit figures in stock market. If we decide, that a film is a hit, nothing can stop it from being hailed as a great film. However a hit film and a great film are two highly separate concepts. We would do well to understand that.

The problem, if I may claim that one exists, lies in the whole perception that we have about films as a media. In India, its not really taken seriously anymore. We do not have anyone to blame except ourselves, because there are still film-makers in India who continue the legacy of Satyajit Ray and Guru Dutt. The issue at hand is the age old debate between simplicity and complexity. Simple can be beautiful with its innocence, and direct appeal, while complex is beautiful for its intricate and enchanting qualities. However one must understand that what we easily label as Simple, is actually trivial and mundane, and at times, stupid. We as people, have lost our ability to be patient with pleasure. Everything has to be in your face, and fast. Wham bam, thank you mam. We are all criminals of a populist culture that gives birth to half cooked success that is hailed as the best. Why should then be complaints and queries about the loss of real romance from life, and dearth of real life Rhett Butlers? Honestly, the need of the hour is a revolution in arts, and especially films. Because films take art to the masses. But I think the idea seems a bit farfetched. After all, we are yet to see a final take on something as important as Lokpal bill, and some of the best scams of last season, in spite of rigorous ( however flimsy) protests from masses. So, for us to not have any other issue but aesthetic refinement of our society should take at least a while more. Probably a century or two. For now all the action we need is easily available in our parliament. Another reason why we don’t care for real entertainment in films?

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2 thoughts on “Warning! Premature Culture Ahead.

  1. The old chicken/egg problem is still unresolved. Are films, especially hit films are true reflection of society, or do films influence society? My take is a bit cynical. Just like our politicians, who, i believe, are the true representation of people who elect them, films are true representation of people who like them. What it means is that majority of the fans (of a film or a politician) are likely to behave very much like the way their leader or hero behaved, if put in that particular situation or designation. I don’t think it works the other way round.-a corrupt leader in uncorrupted society or a trash film being a hit in the audience with mature taste.

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    • prismcoaster says:

      I sometimes wonder if there is at all any audience with mature taste. Even in hollywood, trash films are made ( though with better production and script). There are small pockets of audience worldwide who prefer a certain type of films. In more developed societies, perhaps the number is a little high, and they have all the resources available to tap that pool. In India, people are not really willing to accept films as anything apart from entertainment. I can say that because I know people who have great taste in music and literature, but when it comes to films, they prefer something that is easy..

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