Real Vs Reel

In a country where entertainment is a huge industry, the question of the reel influencing the real or vice versa is an important one. Not much time has passed when this question was directed only at the so-called ‘art films’; the cinema that was beyond the common man’s comprehension. Now, we could throw this question even at commercial cinema.

Whether it be the strategy of a terror attack or the increasing instances of eve teasing, the blame game quite neatly rests on cinematic influence. The interesting point to be noted is the fact while those who commit the crime blame the cinematic exposure, the movie makers have a totally different opinion who insist that they had been inspired by reality itself. Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy are part of a vicious circle; should we conveniently let this debate rest under the covers of “inevitable vicious circle”? Or should we sit up and think, what is it that ails us?

Needless to even mention this, our society had been existing even before television was invented or cinema came into being. The media never led to our inchoation but we let it usher into our lives adapted change and advancement.

So, though it appears to be a ‘chicken/egg’ situation, it is not. Clearly, when cinema came into being, people were already living the way they were, crime was already existing in some form or the other. When cinema opened up to being realistic, and fantasy took a back seat, it was indeed the society that got reflected on screen.

Imagination is no doubt a very powerful attribute but what is important to remember is the fact that even the best of fictional works have a certain inspiration from reality. It is just a changed outlook or perhaps a face that a film maker can foresee and an ordinary man cannot. But does that imply that it is not reality.

Certainly not.

Now that we know that cinematic realism cannot be a completely air born phenomenon, can we go ahead and deny that we don’t get influenced by it? Ironical as it is, we get more influenced by a 2.30 hour film more than we get influenced by being a part of the reality itself. Consider the case of a very successful movie called Taare Zameen Par, it took one Mr. Amir Khan and his directorial debut to bring up a very important issue that existed for quite a while. The movie influenced the people in a positive manner. But that is not the case always. There are times when some action packed films are held responsible for instigating young minds into committing an evil crime.

The question to be pondered upon is whether we should put restrictions on the type of films a filmmaker can make. I don’t think so. Not only would we constrain creative expression of person/ group of people in a democratic nation, we would declare ourselves weak. Furthermore, I think we are a society able enough to discern what is right and what is wrong. Of course, expressing concern is good but trying to force a moral diktat is not. We need to accept reality, embrace the ugly face and the beauty together. Reel is what we have created, it is just another form of expression but Real is what we truly own. If we want to see a glittering reel, it is we who need to make our ‘real’ reality shine.

Meghna Baveja

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