Cinema as a medium has incredible power in our country. The reach and impact of a film can be understood when a street child tells you that there are days when they choose to watch a film instead of eating their daily meal. His logic is that after a meal he would soon be hungry, but a movie stays with him much longer, giving him hope and joy. I was amazed by these words told to me by a 12-year-old ragpicker.
With more than 50% of its population under the age of 25 today, our country is poised to face the possibility of immense change over the next 25 years. And there are a lot of things that need to change to propel us out of the heavy biases that keep us from realizing our true potential. Discriminatory practices and limitations on individual freedom, security and opportunity that are inherited must be scraped off like old skin. Despite all the slogans, while more than half of the Rs 10 billion Nirbhaya Fund for women’s safety remains unused for 10 years in a country where women desperately need safety, it shows a lack of socio-political will. cultural. A radical cultural shift can help shape a different future. And among the cultural tools for this purpose, there is none greater than the cinema in India today.
As a worker in Indian cinema (an industry with strong male-dominated storytelling on and off screen), I would love to see cinema influence people to bring about the socio-cultural change we need. I would love to see our storytellers inspire people to think differently.
While we are aware of the power of this industry, what prevents us from mobilizing this power for social advancement? I have often been told that such messages work in art house cinema, but that there is no place for it in commercial cinema. I disagree because commercial cinema has a far greater reach than auteur films and the number of times a hit song from a commercial film is played on a personal device far exceeds any other content created in our country. To paraphrase Spider-Man, with that kind of power comes great responsibility. As stars and creators enjoy the privileges and pleasures of such exalted adoration, perhaps they could reciprocate by inspiring audiences toward specific social changes.
Just as a superstar’s new hairstyle is enough to send their fans into a frenzy of imitation, the love and enthusiasm for imitating also spills over into fashion, language and cultural attitudes. In the past, the entertainment industry has contributed to considerable levels of toxic masculinity in this country. How about using the medium to undo that?
Taare Zameen Par has created a sea change in attitude towards children with dyslexia, even from their own parents. 3 Idiots made us revisit contemporary education and real-life learning. We applauded Chak De India and the many new generation sportswomen inspired by it. They are all box office hits that have engaged and entertained us while expanding their goals of raising awareness and empathy among audiences. I look forward to seeing our storytellers consciously ensure that their content engages audiences to challenge discriminatory biases and provoke thought and action.
Yes, this ardent hope for [email protected] comes from my perspective as a woman and a filmmaker. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In cinema, we have 24 frames per second and whether we like it or not, the content we produce has meaning and power. That’s 24 opportunities per second to “be the change.”
The writer is a filmmaker. This article is part of an ongoing series, which started on August 15, by women who have made an impression, in all sectors