Clíches & Hypocrisy – in Cinema!

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Feb 2005

I asked a panel, which included the organiser of a popular film festival in Bradford, the question about how the mass Bollywood films were impacting the society in general. The standard response – ‘…that is such a
cliché question and I strongly disagree that cinema has any impact on the society; it merely reflects the society’ ensued.

I state that it is the responses on this issue which are the clichés, not the questions.

Being specific, Bollywood cinema (most of it, not all) has degenerated to the levels of soft-porn movies. A producer is not worth his (or her) salt if there isn’t an ‘item number’ in the film. I do not know the roots of this phrase (’item number’), but surely it was born on the streets of Mumbai, Delhi or another Indian cosmopolitan city and suggests something sleazy. But the issue is that that this ‘item number’ mentality has somehow seeped into the rest of the film as well. Very few ‘Bollywood films’ can now be classed as ‘family films’. The only films I would trust would be the ones from the Barjatya family. This family has brought us films like
Dulhan Wahi jo Piya Man Bhaye, Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Saath Saath Hain and many others. Unfortunately, the audience has been so much influenced by the money-minters that there are fewer and fewer of the Barjatya family type films to be seen these days.

The fact that the number of magazines on our news stands which in some way are connected to the world of cinema and the number of websites dedicated to this industry are only second to those related to politics/news disproves the argument that ‘cinema only reflects
it’s society’. I believe that a few individuals exposed to the western media and culture believed that it is acceptable to impose that on the Indian
audiences and went ahead with the agenda unchallenged. A very small minority can have their views repeatedly visualised on
the cinema screen and push it through the means of ‘popular cinema’ and normalise the views of the masses to influence them
to the extent that they begin to accept that as the norm. I am not suggesting that there were no ills in
the Indian society and sex & sleaze does not happen/did not happen 20 years ago, but thanks to Bollywood, most
youngsters accept this as the norm now. I am sure that male-female relationships at school & college ages now far exceed the levels and cross
the boundaries which would have been unheard of 10-15 years ago. The whole society has been brain-washed to accept this trash. The law-makers and censor boards are in bed with the producers or are too slow to respond that it is too late before they take any action any way. Don’t get me going about the pace of the Indian Legal system!
I am by no means a ‘dinosaur’ or unaware of phrases like ‘evolution’ and
‘progressive society’, but I believe that society can ‘move with the times’
without carrying the ills introduced by this means.

Once this first stage of ‘normailisation’ has been accomplished, then the next steps are to make the bill-boards and hoardings on the streets more bolder and sleazy, television adverts more vulgar,
thereby ignoring that young children will be exposed to these as well. I bet,
then it is the same groups of individuals who gather in their high-society gatherings and complain that ‘the innocence in our children’ does not exist any more and that the ‘children are becoming adults’ at a much earlier age now. They probably event suggest that they would be sending their young children to some exclusive boarding schools where they are taught morals and civic values and not exposed to so much ‘rubbish in the society’.

I hate the hypocrisy of this industry and the wantonness with which films are made and shamelessness of the individuals involved. There is a market for ‘XXX’ rated films and magazines and adverts – let us not let it seep into daytime TV (6 AM to 12 Midnight) and our streets.

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