Understanding Cinema

jodha.jpgIn 1895, the world was introduced to the concept of cinema by the Lumiere Brothers. Now, a hundred years down the line, this medium has become the most powerful and influential tool used and witnessed by mankind. However, sometimes it’s the power that is the dilemma in disguise. It is this power and the influential drive which puts the world of entertainment in a position that enables it to make the impact that it does today.

Lenin once said that cinema is the best way to call out to the masses. However, with power comes responsibility and this is where the loophole lies. Filmmakers have 190 minutes in their hands through which they have a choice to showcase the reality or distort the facts. A similar problem occurred recently in the state of Rajasthan with the release of the movie Jodha Akbar. The historians claim that the movie contains vague facts and does not show the true portrayal of the historic events. A creative work of art is a form of entertainment; it is not made with an intention to hurt the sentiments of the audience by portraying a wrong picture in front of them. In 2001, a Shyam Benegal movie, Zubeida, was banned in the city of Jodhpur as it dealt with the issue of the second Muslim wife of His Highness of Jodhpur. The royals of Jodhpur demanded a ban on the film as it was indirectly questioning their royal blood.

However, there are times when this freedom of expression can’t be utilized completely to bring out some very important facts out in the open. There can be three reasons for this.

Firstly, the content in the film could be too bold.

Secondly, the film could be revealing certain facts which are politically incorrect and not accepted by the Government.

Thirdly, the content might provoke a certain sect which might endanger the national integrity.

One of the best examples is Black Friday, which tops the list of controversial cinema. A documentary-type film, which was released after 9 years of ban, was based on the 1993 Mumbai blasts. The movie was released last year and received both audience and critical acclaim.

Coming down to the south of Rajasthan, Gujarat, too, has banned plenty of movies itself, due to reasons varying from political to social. Aamir Khan’s movie Fanna faced a major proscribe in the state for his support to the Narmada Bachao Andolan. 2002 Gujarat riots left behind some of the most horrid memories in the history of India. In 2006, one such family came forward recounting the horror of 2002 and expressed their loss through this medium. Through Parzania, they thought that their call would be answered, the search for their son, Parzan. The movie was a ray of hope, a mass calling, a story narrated to every family who lost their loved ones in these communal riots. However, the ray was blocked by dark clouds when the movie was banned in Gujarat. The Censor Board said that the movie contained sensitive scenes which could provoke the state’s communal groups. It’s poignant when genuine issues like these can’t be put across.

Another filmmaker whose movies face a constant ban one after the other is Deepa Mehta. First it was the Fire, which dealt with the bold theme of homosexuality, then The 1947 Earth and the most recent Water among those which were banned due to several reasons.

Cinema, in the end, is just a medium of suspension of disbelief. It is a creative work of fiction and a right used by the filmmakers to put forward their perspective. In a democracy, we have a right to share our views.

Keeping the human behavior in mind, this point can vary from individual to individual. As a mature audience, it is up to us whether to welcome sensible cinema and appreciate the work or shut our eyes to avoid the light from entering.

Aakanksha Ahluwalia

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/2265625040/]