Friday, December 19, 2008

Indian Cinema and Terrorism!

Terror through the lenses of Bollywood:(a still from Khaled Mohammad's Fiza, 2000)

“THERE ARE GOOD FILMS, BAD FILMS AND THEN THERE ARE INDIAN FILMS”. - Actor John Abraham during the press- release of Deepa Mehta’s “Water.”
In the era of globalization and its allied forces, there comes to the fore varied issues and developments. These are studied by Bureaucrats, Policy Makers, Surveyors, N.G.O.’s,media concerns etc.One such issue that keeps showing itself in the present scenario is Terrorism. At present labeled as global terrorism, after the 9/11 attack on the Twin towers as well as the Pentagon. It is usually identified with bombings, suicide bombers, hijackings, kidnapping, Arsonry, Riotting, weapons of mass- destruction.

 Our paper analyses one of the aspects of media and terrorism and that aspect is Terrorism as shown in Indian cinema .From the films shown at Niscort, I would take the initiative to analyze them one after the other.

Media is a catalyst which can range anything from conversation between two persons,newspapers,periodicals, journals,Periodicals,journals,Magazines, Pamphlets, Brochures, Leaflets, Satellite TV, Radio, Cinema-Parallel & Non-Parallel, Documentaries,Drama,theatre- mobile & street , skits, Tamasha, puppetry, Internet or “New-media” to carry the message across effectively. Our paper shall see that light is thrown on different facets of terrorism as shown in Indian cinema. Ethically speaking, media should not take any stance inst ead it should try to present undistorted facts and present it to public to generate constructive public opinion. At least, that should be the standard of Indian media often hailed as the fourth pillar of our democracy.
Of the first such films screened at Niscort, I will take up the case of Parzania, a film by Rahul Dholakia the backdrop of the film is the Gujarat riots, an aftermath of the Godhra carnage. The director has deliberately portrayed a Parsi family which goes through a lot of trauma as their son goes missing in the ensuing riots. The film questions the social integrity of our country. The sub title says it all (heaven & hell on earth). The message conveyed by the film is that Indian society would not accept cannibalistic violence lying down. The film uses a lot of symbols. As fr. Jude observed the film starts with a punch. The narration treatment is different here, for conclusions come in the beginning, the settings are the actions. The film deals with the following ingredient s- (A) Human -Interest i.e. family and (B) issues i.e. Politics, Communalism rooting from unhealthy attachment to religion. Our Director, Fr. Jude observed it as a parallel of the film “Jesus Montréal”. The second movie, “RANG DE BASANTIservesa statement in the affirmative it is interesting to compare both the movies as both of them uses violence as the backdrop. It exposes the structures of India’s socio-political-religio fabric. The film dwelves to the core of issues as political ignorance, struggle of the values that makes India (a country the size of a continent) a nation, Red – Tapism, Colonial or Corporate outlook towards citizens by the administrative –setup, cover-up of issues, a democratic setup which “uses an iron hand in a velvet glove”, indifference towards the selfless sacrifices of our armed revolutionaries(which is again a symbolic gesture executed by the director Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra.) .The film consciously targets the youth as its audience. I once read an article on the movie in the cinema supplement of The Telegraph. It said the film approaches the concept of patriotism indirectly it added that the same year another patriotic movie “Mangal Pandey”(said to be based on the life and times of the rebel sepoy of bhalia district of U.P., India belonging to the 34th Bengal regiment of Barrackpore,west Bengal.)Bombed at the box – office. This can also be an interesting case study. The message of R.D.B. is on the face that the root of all evil in society is “corruption”. It is also interesting to note how the director carries forward the tale, by using poetry written by poet Allama Iqbal.The film uses parallel scenes from the armed rebellion phase of the Indian Freedom Movement and present society of youth indifferent towards the social and political issues of India. Communal harmony comes in the form of the friendship shown between the revolutionaries Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah khan which also has a layered significance pertaining to the region they belong to i.e. U.P. where centuries ago the revered saint Kabir Das united Muslims and Hindus by the doctrine of Ram –Rahim in the city of Benares.The cinematography is also significant as it uses the shade yellow complementing the film’s title in the parallel scenes. This colour also signifies the mustard seeds of Punjab to which the intellectual revolutionary Bhagat Singh belonged and which in turn denotes the coming of spring, symbolic to a new progressive era. The techniques of the film are powerful music, parallel scenes, and focuss on youth. It appears that the film says, “Violence is the solution of problems in the society”.
There is also a double message as the hero outplays his opponent. As Fr. Jude observes this matter also came in a debate format in NDTV and the director counter suggested that youth can bring about change for good by joining I.A.S,Judicioal services,etc.the third film “black and White” is by seasoned filmmaker Subhash Ghai.The film handles terrorism in a different manner. The film focuses on a terrorist and he has subtext / sub questions as to who is a terrorist? Why is he a terrorist? Does he too have feelings? The film uses symbols effectively. For instance, overstressing on Anubhav Sinha’s face.Pre- conceived notions that people are judged either by shades of Black & White. It is interesting to note that, at the end of the film, a paper is shown to be torn apart from the middle, which removes prejudices and pre-conceived notions. The film’s bottom line can be summed up as “destroy the terrorist by changing the terrorist”.

  The fourth film “Kayataran” is by shashi Kumar and it is more transcendental in its approach. The film’s backdrop is the ‘84 Sikh riots immediately after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. A journalist goes to the convent he and his mother was given refuge during the riots to cover a story on “conversions”. The screenplay is deliberately kept slow and steady. The story can be said to be the self realization of an individual, acceptance of who he really is? The film uses symbols at will. The very first image of the stained glass image of Jesus Christ being broken sets the tone for a somber narration.  Finally, it can be said that such films enables one to think. The tenets of an equal society “Liberty”, “Equality”, “Fraternity” can be achieved by thinking individuals only. 

It remains on us to decide as to which ideology we should chose? A perverted one or a liberal one?  

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