The cinema of today represents our collective sensibility and its viewing has become a habit with us. It has gone so deep into our sub-conscience that we can not think of any other means to spend our leisure than seeing a film. And yet cinema has become a subject of discussion at the conscience level. While it has almost assumed the role of a stark necessity in our life, the intelligentia is accusimg cinema for causing degeneration of our values, our cultural pattern, our civilization and is threatening to subsume the real purpose of our life and living. On the other hand, the artistes and film-makers have a grouse that on account of lack of proper intellectual development and modernization, the general viewers are in no position to appreciate the experimental, psychological, educational and literary films.
There is no gain saying the fact that our present generation is deeply engrossed in the cinema which influences and effects the social life most comprehensively in the field of day-to-day pattern of life-style and standards of living, physical outfits etc. In fact cinema has an overwhelming impact on the attitudes and behaviour of the people. But it will not be fair to jump on the conclusion that cinema is exclusively responsible for causing a dent in our time-tested values, though cinema may be one of the factors. How can we deny that after investing millions of rupees in the production of a film, the producer shall not like to recover the costs along with profits ? It is, therefore, very natural for a producer to make a film which could become easily popular with the masses who would repeatedly see the film. This profit-motive has resulted into the making of ‘formula films’.
The present formula-films are thus to attract large number of viewers who are tempted to view titillating sex-scenes, pulsating dances, lilting songs, thrilling fights and exciting swimming- pools. Such films cater to the baser feelings of the viewers.Love and crime are the natural instincts of common masses and they get satisfaction through the formula films. The common viewer would yearn to see the fulfillment of his pent-up desires and suppressed feelings through the characters in the film. During the viewing, the antics of the hero overpowers the viewer and the latter looks to his performances intently and completely identifies himself with the hero. As the film progresses, the viewer develops a feeling that he himself is performing and the hero of the film is only a symbol. But when the viewer finds that his hero is not performing the way the viewer might have wished him to, then he gets bored and disgusted. Our film-makers are keenly aware of this state of mind and they exploit it to the fullest extent.
The inquisitive mind wants to know if such formula films have always been the weakness of our society. Looking back we find that we have almost revolutionalized the art of film-making and now our films are technically much superior than before in terms of photography, direction, dialogue-delivery, theme et,.in fact, all the departments of film production. But are there people who are still fond of old films and old actors ? The answer is emphatic yes. Such people think that the old films were far superior to the new ones. People listen to the old songs over the radio or television with nostalgic memries since that usued to be the music for the soul and not the prevalent music for the years alone. Although the old films did not have the superficial jazzy fast orchestratic songs, no obscene sexy scenes and no exiting gun-trotting, yet the treatment of the film was so near to reality that it would touch the inner chord of the heart and one could, in fact, breathe the songs and live the films.
But under the influence of the West, we have introduced sex and violence in the films. I, for one, don’t agree that sex and violence have become an essential ingredient of the modern films. People are still wedded to their old culture and old values. Otherwise how could films like ‘Do aankhen barah haath’, ‘Jhanak jhnak payal baaje’, ‘Mughal-e-azam’, ‘Geet gaya patthron ne’, ‘Shaheed’,’Poorab aur pashchim’, ‘Yaaden’ and ‘Upkar’ be great box-office hits.
Time goes on. It is never stationary. Everything is under a natural process of change. We must not be unduly alarmed if our values have undergone certain changes over the years. To my mind, the real problem is that we have neither been able to remain purely Indian in our outlook and behaviour nor have we fully adopted and accepted the Western culture and values. This contradiction or dilemma is manifest in the fact that some times we enjoy films made on Western pattern but at another time we feel disgusted with them. If we go to see a movie with an idea of seeking entertainment, then we like them but those who try to find out the purpose or morality, are disillusioned.
The modern films can be broadly classified into two categories: viz. the ‘entertainment films’ and the ‘purposeful films’. On the yardstick of popularity, the entertainment films are more successful than the purposeful ones, the reasons for which are far too to seek.In this present-day materialistic society, every one is awfully busy in his daily pursuits and does not have much spare time. Whatever little time one can cheese off from his engaging routine, one would like to relax and enjoy to the full without listening to anything that calls for serious contemplation. Such rare moments, one would like to spend in entertaining oneself and not bothering to see any serious or thematic kind of film. One would cherish to divert oneself from the dull and druggery of life and its accompanying problems and be at peace with oneself for some moments.
In other words, the entertainment films came to our rescue from our boredom and monotony. During the last few decades, we have seen the mushroom growth of such ‘escape’ films. Looking closely we find that there is a world of difference between the factually hard realities of life and the artificialities projected by the films. Caught in such a position, one can get frustrated with one’s real life because the glamour of ‘filmy-life’ is missing in one’s real life_ an ailment which can be conclusively attributed to the influence and impact of films.
The second category of films is the purposeful films which, besides feature films, include documentary films, advertisement films, news-reels etc. Documentary films have a great significance in a democratic set-up since through this medium people are wakened to their duties and responsibilities towards their society, their country and thus close relationship is established and maintained between the Government and the governed. News-reels are also very useful in imparting political education to the masses. You might have experienced that such like films have done commendable impact in making us aware about the situations when
The need of the time is that apart from the films made by the Government and with the financial assistance from the Government, the entire film-industry must make such films as encourage the viewers to maintain and strengthen the Indian culture and Indian values. The film-makers must not make films with their eyes sonly on the ‘box-office’. If they can replace sex, ,action and violence with themes like humanity, mutual love and understanding which can stir our sensitivities and consciousness, inspire us to preserve and foster our composite culture, then , I am sure, films will not only be popular among the viewers but also creative and our film-makers will be fulfilling a social and national obligation apart from serving the cause of art and indeed themselves.