Your side? My side? Stay aside

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Dec 2017 12:05:45


By biraj dixit,

Do films really help in changing outlook? 

Can they malign a very respectable part of history by mere depiction?

It is nobody’s fault. Nobody is in the wrong actually. That, of course, does not mean that everybody is right. Somebody ought to be wrong. And much like my country, I too, for convenience’s sake, have decided who to blame. The blame must rest upon those who can take one. They must take the blame of being brutally insensitive to the one long standing truth about us that must be put across most emphatically and that is - we love our sentiments. It is not okay to tax them and it is not okay to expect reason to intervene.

I know, one should not indulge in too much of sentimentalism. It has been often described as an bottomless pit. Almost all of our religions ask us not to fall prey to sensations of the senses and sentiments. Most of our philosophers uphold reason and have guided us to be guided by reason. Most of our gurus preach restraint, deep thought and contemplation to keep at bay excessiveness of emotions. Our historians tell us so many tales of how the fall of reason was often quite quickly followed by fall of civilisations, cultures, nations and people. Most of our leaders of the yore have so often emphasised on learning correct lessons from history. Yet, as a nation, sentimental we are. If we are hurt, we are hurt and the rest becomes history.

Speaking of history, I say why touch upon that dicey subject? Even children, these days are wise enough to refrain from indulging in historical knowledge gaining. There are simple reasons why one must refrain. First, it involves too many people. Second, all of them have the propensity to make us all the more sentimental, and third, you cannot say when the truth or what you believe to be truth, might change. All of my living past I have seen people debate history with much more anxiety than reason. In fact, some unsettled arguments appear so, so long pending that I, at times, feel they emerge from my memory of previous life. Of course, we as denizens of a glorious nation have a right to an undisputable historical account. But if it is our fate to have grey areas everywhere why torture our own and other’s grey cells further by revisiting something that is not black and white?

It is because of this unnecessary taxation upon the grey cells that most people in our country read their history books mumbling the old (of some other age) film song –
“Sikander ne Porus se ki thi ladai,
Jo ki thi ladai to mai kya karu?”

Even film songs in some ages had the temerity to be so unpretentious! But films shouldn’t be so unpretentious. They hurt. See, like the rest of the nation I, too, am yet to come to a conclusion on importance of films in our lives. Without a controversy, you can see directors claim that film-making is a creative art form that often reflects the society, highlights a few evils and thus helps in shaping a nation. On those occasions, you hear politicians saying a film is just a means of entertainment and nothing more. (Shaping a nation is what they do). Come a controversy and the directors say, “It is just a film, an entertainment. Let us not read too much into it.” The politicians, on the other hand, worry about its larger consequence on the society. And on all those occasions, freedom of expression, infringement upon creativity and artistic liberty, growing political control in all spheres of our lives, vote bank politics are discussed at length. And at length, are your grey cells troubled. It is hard to come to a conclusion.

I mean do films really help in changing outlook? Can they malign a very respectable part of history by mere depiction? Can a film be as important? If the historical depiction is so wrong how come our history books kept telling us the same story? Shouldn’t those who allowed an entire nation to study wrong facts about history be grilled first (rather than them grilling others)? What should be more relevant – myth, reality or cultural memory? Should beliefs be open to scrutiny? If no, what is blind faith? If creativity is so subject to public scrutiny what does one can mean by free society?
When one is pounded by so many questions what can one do but pass into the bliss of thoughtlessness? And though watching news channels day in and day out, I know sentiments are supreme but the Almighty’s diktat that humans be governed by reason often spoils my calculations. I do not know which side to take. As of now I am with scores of my countrymen, who are silent on the subject.

Though truly speaking, in my heart I do wish to see the grand story of a glorious queen, retold in all magnificence that a great film director can present. I so ardently wish to revisit history and feel its pulsating aura in a way which only films can bring to life. I so wish to again fall in love with our own glorious past presented through the unforgettable spectrum of films. But that is a wish I will stifle, lest somebody might call me names for my fickle-minded, consumerist, less than patriotic desires.

Grand historical biopics are such a bad western influence that one must altogether get rid of them. A forward-looking, developed nation like ours should not allow infringement on our sentimentality. If our creative people are so imaginative as to recreate a grand period of history and pay an artistic tribute to a great piece of literary work, they might also, henceforth, imagine the backlash that can follow before putting their hard work, money, talent and skill in creating a magnum opus. They must refrain from giving their artistic imagination and skills a free hand. They can always make something which is agreeable to all like the romcoms. They hurt no feelings.

The directors must also refrain from indulging in making films that may come out from closets of history, our great literary heritage like poems written on real or imaginative characters. They may argue that these characters - real or imaginative - have had a huge role to play in shaping the cultural ethos of our nation; that their tales must be told because they are so worth telling. This would be like giving yourself an absolute free-hand. They must know that absolutely free hand is not what creative people can have. They might face a backlash and then, should not blame us - their countrymen.
For, we are still confused as whom to side with. We are hardly as courageous as Rani Padmavati.