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Debate: Impact on society of movies

For thousands of years and even today, literature has been instrumental in providing the material
for reflection on what it means to be human. Ever since the Lumiere brothers first exhibited the
craft of film making, films became a visual alternative. In the early years films were extremely
primitive by today’s standards, but were thrilling just the same. Suddenly, the world began to see
itself. The visuals of the films, the movement of the films opened up the world on so many levels
that it is impossible for us to comprehend today. People were awed and infatuated by it. It must
have been like lifting a veil on the entire world. The New-York evening world states: “For the
first time in the history of the world it is possible to see what a kiss looks like."
Early decades of the film industry produced movies that reflected aspects of the society that were
beautiful and ugly, traditional and progressive. It allowed society to see themselves as they
actually appeared. Early films showed women as the society said they were. The way women
behaved and contributed, and this contribution as society put it, was restricted to making babies
and attending to needs of husband, was portrayed through the camera. Regrettably, women too
believed this to be true.
For some time now there is a steady growth in the populous of filmmakers that took the liberty to
open up the issues of racism, terrorism, homosexuality, government and religion on a global
stage. Filmmakers are convinced that their serious and somber movies are not just for
entertainment or art, but play a role in changing people’s thinking, not to say in some cases their
lives. Ang Lee, director of “The life of Pi”, strongly believes that movies have power to change
thinking process of people at both conscious and sub-conscious level. Is there really such a power
in movies that can change the way masses think or is it just a gimmick of filmmakers?
Apparently, not everyone is humming the same tune and many remain skeptical about the role of
movies in creating a meaningful and lasting social change. Many hold opinion that “films are but
canvas of decadence, signified by whisky, bikini, lust and lack of respect for womanhood.”
Robert Redford an actor, producer and director, expressed his criticism saying: "I don't know how
much films actually impact social movements. Fashion, perhaps?”. Many argue that movies are
made for the entertainment of wider audiences with an intention to make profit, not specifically
for the societal benefit. So it is reasonable to assume that movies rarely have any worthwhile
impact on society.
A survey by Pew Research Center finds some evidence of the role of US movies, music and TV
shows in displacing the domestic customs in Canada, Britain, France and Germany.

Survey results show that people in these countries feel that American style of living is spreading
and replacing their own traditional way of life. The role of movies and music in changing the
customs of the society is further evinced from the result that substantial numbers of same

The influence in India of films is greater than newspapers and books combined. anthropologists and sociologists have neglected the impact of cinema in their research studies. sex.respondents like the movies and music being imported from United States. An example of India To discuss the impact of cinema on Indian society at once begs a serious question: What is India? Was it a fiction invented by British? Though the British had never ruled over more than sixty percent of Indian sub-continent. True that Hollywood and Bollywood have run out of compelling meaning full stories. Indian cinema played an instrumental role in the nation’s unifying mission. In tracking these differences it is interesting to see how these issues are accommodated. what is permissible and what is taboo. historians.”. contended and reconstituted with the central narrative. for lavish songs. enforcement of unified system of law and creation of national imaginary. Here. It was a dream that everyone pursued. Caste-Religion. movies are but stories. constitution. and have to be retrieved in spite of the dominant narrative. an indispensable variable in the formula film. The films become the canvas of sand on which different tensions and dissensions leave their trace. villain. Peasant-Landlord. in subtle ways. Nevertheless the research like these still cannot conclusively measure the causal impact of movies on the person’s actions. It appeals to the underprivileged by building faith in the nation’s plan of collective welfare and repression of cultural and economic differences. We often overlook that cinema. On the other hand. does mirror social history and the role of gender. resolves the disputes and stops that one menacing threat – disintegration.”. class. dance routines and exotic settings are hardly familiar everyday surroundings. At other times these tensions are repressed in the shadows or remain in margins. Hindu-Muslim. GovernmentNaxalites. one must first understand its core. literary scholars. one monetary currency. political theorists. education. the hero tackles the nation’s enemy. Because movies can elicit strong emotional response. Tradition-Modern. few courageous filmmakers dish out a masterpiece that creates a ripple. caste. they have with good and bad results. until it became a reality and India came into existence in 1947. It would be completely absurd to address Indian films as presenting “authentic” portrayal of Indian life. He becomes the epitome of the ideal nationalist spirit. hero becomes the . The researchers further conclude that liberalization of trade in audio/video services would indeed catalyze cultural shift. But every now and then. Cinema’s contribution to society is highly undervalued. Man-Woman. as the nation positions itself towards representing the common unity and interests of all groups. acknowledging them as problems within the nation. and religion in shaping our society. and rich-poor differences have plagued India since post-colonial era. In its true essence. At times plot of the films focus on these tensions openly. In the formula films. a friend and a sympathizer for the nation. they are powerful. While in many unconventional films the ‘inward-looking’ reflection helps to drive home the point. A sense of unity is obtained from language. from different parts of the world. It is the creation of national imaginary that is to a great extent sustained by the visionary nature of Indian cinema. To analyze the impact of cinema. Prime Minister Nehru once said during a speech “…. May be because of this charade. Hurt by the nation’s miseries and committed to rid the nation of its predicament. which originate from humans within a society and via stories humans reinforce societal norms of how to communicate and act towards one another. hero becomes an advocator. They can persuade masses and change prevalent attitude in society. which echoes through generations. embodies the nation’s “problems. As it is impossible to establish a concrete relationship between what people see in films and then set out to do in their lives.

Driven to desperation and betrayed by the justice of society. With regards to social issues of women such prostitution. The bald mean look of Amir khan in “Ghazni” or the swiveling and crescent middle-part hairstyle of Salman Khan in “Tere Naam” spurred the plenitude of teenagers to imitate it. as it some times become their only connection with the homeland. ‘Karva Chauth’ and ‘Dandiya’. “Dhoom 3” broke the record of highest gross receipts in the opening day and became the possible contender of breaking all-time aggregate box-office receipts – held by “Chennai Express”. The trouble the hero struggles against in these films contains a “message” about the state of the nation and its problems. These plots of hero and villain aptly simulate the contemporary debates and thoughts about what troubles the nation. Repeated education efforts by formal and informal institution in conjunction with selfless sincerity from film studios to portray woman with equal rights will prove instrumental in eradicating these vices. But these are deep rooted and profoundly tangled issues. Last year. once called popular films a mix of “commerce with art. ostracizing of widows. Sarhad. The fanciful images and ideas of few 3 hours Bollywood films are clearly not enough. in Pakistan. subjugation of women in patriarchal society. Movie like Mission Kashmir. Until the people see the ugly consequences emanating from their traditional beliefs. Cinema – Building economic and social capital in the country A stalwart of the film industry. he becomes an outlaw. But before his inevitable death. Bollywood has repeatedly broken box-office collection records. not to say worshipped like Gods. Film actors find themselves hysterically celebrated all over the Indian world. More often than not the role of hero-turned-antihero dies towards the end. these problems will continue unabated. It is due to these simulations and reflections uneducated masses discover the true problems and offer a glimmer of change in society. . Bombay used this plot to send a message across the Hindu audience that Muslims are not to be blamed and stereotyped for the atrocities committed by few terrorists’ organizations. Ever since the annulment of ban on Hindi movies in Pakistan in 1996. including ‘Valentine’s day’. he reveals to the society its vices and fractures in its self-build system. Raj Kapoor. A major contribution for increasing the market share of Greeting card industry came from Bollywood movies of 1990s that popularized the practice of exchanging greeting cards on festive and personal occasions.” Arguably. opening up the market for new cultural merchandises and turning them into cultural treasures.victim of divisions plaguing the society. and dowry burdens. Even the Indian diaspora located in far-flung places as Canada. giving birth to the role of anti-hero. Movies have become favorite pass time of audiences. Indian cinema has done a commendable job of depicting these shameful realities and injustices. People demand to know the names of actors they like. UK and United States resonate powerfully with it. The fashion season is revitalized with every new blockbuster. it is Bollywood that stimulated various cultural driven phenomena in India. in the process creating a market for fashion and garment industries of its own. female feticide. The impact of Indian cinema is also seen in the popularity of Indian actors and film-based programs beyond the national boundaries.

but also where society has been. At time it intrigues the mind of …. at times it shocks. it voices the unvoiced at times…at times it shies away. Always keeping the hope of better future alive. it unveils the ugly at times…at times it flaunts. mirror who is the most beautiful culture in the world. It is this reflection that plays a trick on the minds of people. at times it flatters. At times it. it awakens pride at times…at times it humiliates. Of taboos.. India: Mirror. At times it deceives. at times it corrupts. Of culture.Movies portray not just the contemporary society. Of past. At times it inspires. Mirror: Indian culture . it becomes a reflection of both present and past. Of society.