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A search for ethics in Indian films

By Our Staff Reporter NEW DELHI JAN. 6. This was one lesson in morality by a film-maker which the students will probably never forget. A director preaching high moral ground might sound quite unbelievable to most, but when the "teacher" happens to be Amol Palekar, it presents a completely different picture. In Delhi to attend the ongoing Katha Utsav, it was an opportunity for the audience to understand what ethics -- or the lack of them -- shape cinema. "I think morals are something man-made and not sacrosanct like we are made to believe. It is subjective and changes according to time, place and culture. We were introduced to Victorian morality by the British, which is what we are not. There are attempts to replace them by what is now called Indian values. I want to know what they mean by that? I think it is important that we define them," he stated While film-makers are often at the helm of debates on such ethical issues, this one gave the audience a chance to understand a director who chooses to swim against the tide. "I think sometimes artistes fall into a trap and perpetuate something because they feel that is what the audience wants. I think one has to take the burden on oneself. In mainstream cinema, women are almost doormats and sometimes in the garb of what people want, film-makers continue to portray the same image," the seasoned director said. Exploring the issues of morality and moving on to the "guardians" of these values, Mr. Palekar remarked, "I don't believe in pre-censorship, particularly selective pre-censorship. It is not applicable to a novel or a speech nor does it apply to any other art form. They assume that it may cause a law and order problem, but why do it before the film is released. Like in the case of speech, why don't they wait for the release of the film before stopping it? The other concern is to curb sex and violence. But the majority of the cinema is full of that. In our "morality" we want to retain status quo. The issue is that anybody who chooses to make a significant social statement is in trouble. Look at all the films of Anand Patwardhan." While a significant film might have its way through the legal loopholes, it can sometimes be caught up in the extra-constitutional guardians. "Sometimes when a film gets a censor certificate it can be stopped through extraconstitutional censorship. Are we concerned about this? My film `Akrit' was not sent abroad because it raises serious questions and was not a good image for India abroad. But Karisma Kapoor and Govinda dancing on Sydney bridge portrays that?" he asked.


Any art form reflects its times esp the most visible form- the cinema

1950and 60s saw the themes being very idealistic - fresh from Independence where big dams were built of which heroes were engineers mostly on development backdrop or historical /family dramas preaching high and moral ethics. 1970's brought angry young man to the fore with socialistic / right demanding hero.And there was a distinction of masala and parallel films which produced many artistes like Smita patil, Shabana azmi, Om puri,and Nasheerudin Shaw

1980s brought the advent of latest technological advancements in the movie .Also Masala and art films shared the space.

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