The cinema and television are the mirrors of the society together with its changes. Take for example the humble, illiterate ‘ma’ of the Hindi movies of 60’s and 70’s till 80’. The ‘ma’, who burned the midnight oil to stitch clothes to afford two meals and to pay for the hero’s BA degree, has slowly got replaced with the modern and educated ‘mom’. According to a research report I happened to read, children, especially boys, are proud of working moms. Such a generation obviously is liberal towards their own wives too and is much more understanding towards the career needs, demands, and most importantly the aspirations of their young working wives usually having the same intellectual levels and academic degrees.
The heroine, the simple homely girl got fast replaced by this superwoman, educated, bold and confident about her sexuality. The hero, transformed from the chocolate heroes of the past who fell in love with a innocent- in- the- extremes and uneducated gaon-ki-gori, has now got replaced by a simple boy next door with no palaces to live in, with human capabilities, similar aspirations and lots of guts. The result is that the audience can now easily relate with the lead characters of the film. Both girls and boys now carry huge aspirations and confidence to turn them into realities.
Children now are far from being innocent. According to a report girls now reach puberty at the age of 11 years. Unlike in the older movies wherein children were shown to be innocent and obedient, today’s IT era kids are smart and have a mind of their own. Most of them are precocious with all the material comforts and parents who spoil and pamper them a lot. Increased pocket money to spend as and when they wish, full access to the latest gizmos and least interference in their personal lives are some perks given by the modern urban parents to compensate for the lesser and lesser time they can now spare for their kids, thanks to the double incomes. In the recent movie ‘Partner’, the character played by the ex-Miss Universe Lara Dutta was that of a single mother who has a son and is a journalist and is mostly outstation because of work but still manages the home beautifully. In the same movie the character played by actor Salman khan was that of a bachelor playboy who has no qualms accepting the mother along with the son. This change points towards the ever expanding modernity of relations that is to some point good as well, and has its own positive aspects as it provides womenfolk with a freedom and independence that their earlier generations could only dream of.
These aspects are not difficult to find in the real life and if you peep into the life of any urban young thing or a simple city household, such events, characters and situations do exist though their intensity differs from SEC to SEC (socio economic classification: a system of classification based on the education and income levels) and city to city. Women of today are much more confident and bold as compared to those of 80’s and earlier. Though according to a research only 23% women in Delhi are working, still given we are a huge population, that’s still too much. People, especially in the smaller towns are now keen to send their girls to schools and mothers do not want their daughters suffer the same fate of dependency as they did. This attitude is getting wider generation after generation. I happened to speak to people in a remote area of Gujarat. The person I was talking to was a poor weaver, just hand to mouth but to my surprise, was far too sensible than most of the proud urbanites. He had only two children, a boy and a girl and both were studying. He wanted them to become doctor and engineer and was equally ambitious without even a trace of partiality between the sexes. His wife, I noticed carefully, carried an expression of contentment on her small face, shrunk by poverty but with her small eyes glowing because of, may be satisfaction of a good household, a sensible husband, obedient children or whatever. Now, in how many urban homes do we find this? Most of the housewives are either bored, or are sick of spying on their spouses, have children who are usually out of control and juggle jobs and home irritatingly. In spite of having a lot of material comforts they are far from being satisfied. The increasing white collar crime rate is one depressing but a real evidence of this. The villagers too are now depicted as educated and modern often carrying more business sense than paid managers of big corporate houses. They drive big cars and wear designer clothes. They have fields spread over acres and homes full of state-of-the-art luxuries, their children studying in big cities, and not being conscious of their small town labels. Such situations too exist, with most north Indian villages having much more per capita income that most urbanites who usually look down upon them.
Cinema and movies, I believe are the true reflections of the society and what we see in movies, usually those jaw dropping scenes actually happen, otherwise where do these film wallas get their inspiration from? Movies now portray live-in relationships, girlfriends and boyfriends, pre-marital sex, corruption and every member of the family having a life of their own without wanting anyone’s interference; parents are shown to be very liberal, colleges are depicted like dating parties and professors like friends. Though no points for saying it’s exaggerated but the core idea has come from the society itself, obviously blown up to form a motion picture with drama, suspense and comedy, to attract the spectators.
The entire society is changing and these changes are echoed in the cinema. The change is faster every year but is slow, it’s a mix and is very confusing: most of the girls though bold and brash still carry good old ‘sanskars’ that are automatically activated when they get married. Modern and educated boys still look for innocent and, as far as possible, virgin brides. This double nature of Indian youth is very difficult to understand and decode but is happening in front of our eyes we have all the proofs and we cannot deny it.
But there is a different aspect as well; cinema itself can herald changes in the society. For instance, inspiring the fashion (mostly in the form of aping the actors) and crimes inspired by the movies. But, there are some better changes too like the recent change in the old policy of CBSE as a result of ‘Tare Zameen Par’: it is now giving extra exam writing time to the dyslexic students in the Board exams. Similarly, renewed public interest in hockey is clearly visible after the hit ‘Chak De’.
We should accept the change, for we do not have any choice except to accept, and flow with it.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Cinema and society