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Multiculturalism (sic) in Indian Cinema

Films shape and change the views those people hold about the world at large and its public in particular.
The film producers have managed to lift the veil on a concealed quandary. It might be about a bias to a
marginal, or the bold story of transformation by a single character, but either way, it raises
consciousness about the issue at hand.

(Robert Oakes, "Movies Promoting Social Change").

Cinema is an influential medium. It speaks with the tongue of universality. Cinema through story-telling,
documentary, realism or narrative through its very nature demands a universal language. By accessing
and understanding what makes a universal subject, the audiences can better connect with the world
around them. Films symbolize and at the same time imply. They remix the real, the unreal, the present,
real life, memory, and dream on the same-shared intellectual level.
There are many factors important for a movie to leave an impact in the memory of the audience. Quality
of the movie is one of those factors. It must have a forceful and persuasive storyline that can effortlessly
bond with the viewers but also reveal varied issues in a clear and easy manner. Madhuri Dixit starrer
‘Hum Apke Hai Kaun' is a very apt example of this kind.

('Hum Apke Hai Kaun'.)

Power of the film to create awareness about an issue- Consciousness is the first and the most vital step
to any kind of collective change. Attention should be paid to observe whether the film could contact the
new audience outside those who already knew the topic talked about in the film. ‘Jai Santoshi Maa' can
be put in this category. The public was grossly engaged in this movie. So many blogs, reviews etc
appeared in newspapers and magazines.

('Jai Santoshi Maa.')

However, other than being a very vital means of entertainment and regaling the audience, cinema has
played an important role to bring about social changes and shape the public opinion. The essential
endeavour of a film is the collective approval and change. It is a protracted and complex course,
however, in some cases, there are key symbols of a hit. These can be in the form of legislative-based on
the movie or guiding principle changes or a change in public discussion or making a new issue and
discussion. The films, ‘Munna Bhai MBBS' and ‘Jolly LLB' can be put in this category, highlighting
corruption and cheating in education.

(Munna Bhai MBBS' and ‘Jolly LLB)


Now, shrewd film producers are making full use of the media and the social networking sites and
internet to attract the viewers. Film producers use websites and create a fan group before or after the
release of the film and the movie reaches a large number of audiences even without any substance.
‘Thugs of Hindustan', ‘Dhobi Ghat', ‘Fan', ‘Paheli', etc are of these types.

(Thugs of Hindustan, Dhobi Ghat, Fan, Paheli)

The filmmakers are increasingly using digital devices to reach to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
MySpace, Instagram and WhatsApp etc to attract in new and diverse viewers who usually may not have
been fascinated in a movie of that particular taste or issue.

(Diana Barrett and Sheila Leddy, "Assessing Creative Media's Social Impact", Fledging Fund, Dec'08.)

There are many pieces of research on the role of films and their effect on the values of a human being
and society to create social awareness and knowledge. Movies have a very powerful force in creating an
idea and social awareness. The force is added by using glamour, sex, music, gaudy visibility and new
styles are adequate to reinforce this concept.
Films can be treated as a media of enjoyment in people's everyday lives. They are viewed and enjoyed
by all, irrespective of class, gender, and age. It is a very powerful means to make our ideas conduct in
some way or another and the impact may be both good and bad. There is a direct and quick link
between films and their outreach as changing means. Most of the persons would automatically change
their thoughts after viewing a film. Nobody can deny their very strapping means to transform the
outlook of the society.
For example, after the release of ‘Insaf ka Taraju,' the cases of rapes and molestations were increased
considerably. Film ‘Fashion' and ‘Fire' show lesbianism and homosexuality as simple and normal things
and popularize this type of relationships.

(‘Insaf ka Taraju', ‘Fire', ‘Fashion.')

In India, films are a popular, cheap and mainstream way of entertainment, as there was, no other
popular, cheap and easy way of entertainment.
Edgar Dale conducted 13 studies to prove this point. He classified movies into 10 groups after important
study.
"The results those came out of the study that more than 75% of films fall into the categories of sex, love
and crime. Today also, the same trends can be seen. Edgar Dale used personal interviews, case studies,
questionnaires, survey and polls for his. It was also seen that movies changed emotions, manners,
behaviour, ideas etc". Herbert Blumer also found the same results in his study on this subject.

("A Brief History of Media Effects Research", Herbert Blumer.)

These facts are almost true to the Indian film audience. Nevertheless, in India, the attitude of film
producers is very negative about India. Politics and politicians, police, education, Hindus,
businesspersons, family relationships etc are always shown in very negative manners.
In the film ‘Taqdeerwala', ‘Tarzan', ‘The Wonder Car', ‘Hello Brother', etc, the police are mocked. Indian
police are always shown is a very bad manner, thus spoiling its image. The police personnel are always
depicted as corrupt, inefficient, immoral and as a joker. Films have created a very negative image of
police in the mind of the people.

(‘Tarzan', ‘The Wonder Car', ‘Hello Brother', ‘Taqdeerwala'.).

It is the same story with the depiction of Indian politicians. Indian democratically elected leaders are
shown as a villain, corrupt, brutal, immoral, rapist etc., ‘Nayak', ‘Dabangg', ‘Gangajal', and ‘Koharam' are
this type of film. They have a very spicy storyline and the audience is made to believe about the negative
role and conduct of Indian politicians.

(‘Gangajal', ‘Koharam', ‘Nayak,' ‘Dabag'.)

The education system, teachers and students are always depicted in a very negative manner. Generally,
teachers are shown as clowns, ignorant and womanizer. Similarly, students are also shown as raucous
elements. Hard working, meritorious and disciplined students are mocked and shown as a failed person
in life whereas rogue and scoundrel students are shown highly successful in life. Film ‘Three Idiots',
‘Munna Bhai MBBS', ‘Cheat India', ‘Jolly LLB', ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', etc have this type of storyline.

(Three Idiots', ‘Munna Bhai MBBS', ‘Cheat India', ‘Jolly LLB', ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'.)

People are shown the ways of theft; robbery, cheating fraud etc. and they are shown as very successful
in life with all the luxuries and respect in life and society. ‘Haath Ki Safai', ‘Dhoom', ‘Race', ‘Happy New
Year', etc are this kind of movies.

(‘Haath Ki Safai', ‘Dhoom', ‘Race', ‘Happy New Year')

Criminals, goons, etc involved in ‘Hafta Vasooli' are shown as great characters. They are presented as
role models. In ‘Raees' and, ‘Hassena' have this storyline. Which openly glorifies the criminals.

(‘Raees', ‘Haseena', ‘Once upon a Time'.)

Bollywood movies always depict the pillars and makers of the nation and society in a very negative
manner. Politicians, industrialists, businessperson, police, teachers, doctors etc are generally in a very
poor manner. But criminals, gangsters, duffers, mawalis, loafers are always shown as the poor victims of
the system and glorify them.
Indian movies have played a very important role in popularizing, wine, charas, drugs, cigarettes,
gambling, sexual perversion etc in society. ‘Udta Punjab', ‘Dev D', ‘Fashion' ‘Page-3' etc have such a
storyline.
(‘Udta Punjab', ‘Dev D', ‘Fashion' ‘Page-3')

In Bollywood movies, Hindu religion and Hindu traditions also get very poor and negative treatment.
‘Pk', ‘Oh My God', ‘Ponga Pundit', etc have such stories. In Bollywood Hinduism has always shown in a
very derogatory manner. Superstitions, caste, corruption, cheating, etc all have been made an integral
part of Hindus and Hinduism in Bollywood movies. Pundits, Banias and Rajputs are always shown as
corrupt, greedy, and criminals. Even some of the titles of the films are just degeneration of Hinduism.
‘Kedarnath', ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram', ‘Ram Teri Ganga Meli', ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha', etc etc.

(Pk', ‘Oh My God', ‘Ponga Pundit', ‘Mother India')

Bollywood filmmakers, artists and actors claim they are the torchbearers of 'feminism' in the new-age
cinema. In lectures, they advocate the woman's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. But in
Indian films, women are treated as the toy of a man. They hardly get a good role. They are depicted very
wrongly, e.g. a woman, betrayed by the lover/groom picks up a bottle of alcohol and walks the streets
while an old 'Hindi' song plays in the background...

In the latest development, in the films- a woman, tired of doing the daily chores in the kitchen, pulls a
chair and begins to sip some wine with her husband and other 'men'. This is women empowerment and
feminism of Bollywood.

In another film a daughter smokes and shares a cigarette with her father, (which only a boy could do till
now, is lauded and celebrated as feminism.

Women always seem running behind loafers ad duffers etc. ‘Three Idiots', ‘Munna Bhai MBBS' etc have
this type of depiction of women.

(Three Idiots', ‘Munna Bhai MBBS.')

Feminism is about winning a position, taking a resolution, standing by it, and having the freedom to
choose. It's an idea that gives you the liberty to just be.

The word feminism is highly misused and so misinterpreted off late that it feels like abuse and a war
against man. Even some of the radical feminists feel that women have the 'vagina'... to the greatest
feminine power. To the only gender that has the power to procure life. In the very famous and
controversial film like ‘Padmavat', some of the critics reduced the ‘Jauhar' by Hindu women as a fight to
protect their ‘vagina'. Women, like a vagina, take a decision to burn themselves as a vagina. They found
Padmavat regressive and found their feminism challenged by it. (Swara Bhaskar)

(‘Padmavat')

Such critics fail to understand the story of women's valour and their brave, harsh, radical decision. It was
their choice. That was dear to their feminism. It was their power and freedom to choose. It was
Padmavati's choice and free will to not give herself up to Khilji. The question about life after rape does
not arise. She, out of her free will, chose to embrace the fire rather than the debauch Alauddin. It was a
matter of choice and not forced upon them by their husbands!

Films, ads, opinions that portray women doing things that man do is lauded and celebrated as
'feminism'. According to Bollywood films, feminism and equality are reduced to women smoking,
drinking, gambling, body showing, free-sex etc on screen.

Young girls are generally projected, wearing very short dresses, semi-nude, bikini wearing etc in the
name of fashion and modernity. ‘Faishon, ‘Mai Hoo Na' etc are such movies. Women are treated very
badly in Bollywood. Now, all know about the regressive practice of casting couch. Some of the victims
have spoken about it. ‘MeToo', exposure is all about it.

(‘Faishon, ‘Mai Hoo Na', ‘Fashion' and ‘Laga Chunri mei Daag.')

There is hardly any film in which cow keeping or rearing cow is shown but in so many films dog keeping
is shown as a very good act. Indian food, bread and vegetarian food is a sign of backwardness but pizza,
burger, cold drink and non-vegetarian are best and eaten by educated and civilized people. Even some
of the big name like Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Haasan etc support beef eating. ‘Sonu ke teetu kee Sweety',
‘Mom' have this theme. Hindi and Sanskrit are always mocked and symbol of backwardness whereas
English and Urdu are the languages of educated and civilized people. ‘English Winglish', ‘Hindi Medium',
has this story.

(‘Sonu ke teetu kee Sweety', ‘Mom', ‘English Winglish', ‘Hindi Medium'.)

It is a matter of pride that, Indian cinema has not only remained popular in India, but it has increased its
boundaries elsewhere in the world. It is really encouraging to see a ‘double bottom-line' production
house in India. Films are a really powerful medium in India.

In the words of Bertolt Brechet:


"We need a type of theatre which not only releases the feelings, insights and impulses possible within
the particular historical field of human relations in which the action takes place, but employs and
encourages those thoughts and feelings which help transform the field itself."

(Diana Barrett and Sheila Leddy, "Assessing Creative Media's Social Impact", Fledging Fund, Dec'08)

Now, activism has crept into Bollywood. A whole generation of young writers is growing up in the
shadow, pomp and show of activism. But their approach is very negative. In the name of art, they
support the cause of artists from Pakistan and anti-Hindu storyline. Such activists always try to defame
the nation and malign the Hindus. Stars like Aamir Khan, Naseeruddin Shan, Javed Akhter, Shabana Azmi
etc indulge such type of negative activism. Even terrorists are shown as victims. These art movies show
nation and ideas in poor light.

But art, real spirited art that does not hunt for easy crutches, achieves far more in the course of moving
us and amusing us than activism ever does. The film ‘Newton', for instance, shows with considerable
power the absurdity of democratic process in an impoverished tribal region; and that extreme
uprightness in a person is actually a psychiatric condition. The film tried to depict Maowadi terrorists as
victims of the system and tried to generate more sympathy for the "Maoist terrorists".

(‘Newton', ‘Haider')

It was in the late 1970s that Yash Chopra's film ‘Kala Patthar' released. It focuses on the pitiable and
dangerous lives of the coal miners in a very exaggerated manner. The same idea is shown in ‘Kranti' too.

(‘Kala Patthar', Kranti')

Mahesh Bhatt's in his film ‘Arth' introduced a very bold theme before the Indian audience. The big
screen was familiarized with the vulgar idea of the extramarital affair.

(‘Arth')

In the late 1990s, ‘Parallel Cinema' began experiencing a resurgence in Hindi cinema, largely due to the
critical and commercial success of ‘Satya', a low-budget film released in 1998. It was based on the
Mumbai underworld, directed by Ram Gopal Varma glorifying and romanticizing the crime and criminal.

(‘Satya')

The years that followed saw movies like ‘Rang De Basanti' and ‘No One Killed Jessica' that not only
popularized the concept of candle march, which is generally used to defame the nation or blackmail
someone.

(‘Rang De Basanti' and ‘No One Killed Jessica')

All this discussion is enough to say that in India, the power and reach of a film have not being used in the
nation building and create a positive approach about the nation nada the society. On the contrary, they
create a very negative image of the nation, society, women, Hindus, Indian history and Indian society.
The Government and the censor board need to tackle these issues and force the Bollywood to change.
The society must understand that while judicial verdict and laws help, but the nation and any faith
should not be demonized. The society's attitude towards them must change. This is an area where the
people have to join the battle.

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