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Tue, 22 Jan 2019

Northeast Today

Indian Cinema & Subsequent Controversies

Indian Cinema & Subsequent Controversies
February 09
15:58 2018

Yash Mishra

Art is devoid of any sort of barrier-This is what every artist implies on his/her creation until at one stage some group or section of people gets hurt or offended by the depiction in it for reasons which, majorly could be seen as no less than absurd.

Like every human being is entitled to his/her views and perception, the same also implies for an artist, which acts as a driving force in their respective creations. With such uproars against it, the freedom of expressiongets hurt which sounds more genuine & sensible than “hurting sentiments”.

In India, films have always been a soft target for reasons like homosexuality, nudity, addiction, etc., that have made the objecting lot a laughing stock. The biggest irony lies in the fact that within its 5000 years of history, India has been viewed as one of the freest societies neglecting almost all the issues which are seen as the cause of uproars in the present scenario.

Recently Sanjay LeelaBhansali’s magnum opus ‘Padmaavat’ was dragged into controversy for multiple reasons that were not seen, but pre-assumed even before the Censor Board could watch it for certification. The film was given a delayed release amidst heavy protests causing losses leading to tight security.

The story is based on a poem penned down by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammed Jayasi on a Sri Lankan Princess who becomes the Rajput queen after falling in love with a visiting Rajput king and performs ‘Jauhar’ when her husband dies in a battle and their fort is all set to be under siege by the then Delhi Sultan AllaudinKhilji. Over the years, the poem has undergone several changes in different versions, despite its inaccuracies and has been accepted accordingly. It has been remade in many versions and languages on both TV and Cinema formats likewisebut never faced any kind of controversy

Ironically, if we see within the pages of history, North India (including the Rajput side) has barely seen any brave warrior on whom a film could be made. But thanks to some makers, they are also seen on television (like Prithviraj Chauhan and Porus) yet are met with protests. However, in the remaining South, West and East, the numbers of these warriors go high in the same pages yet the films are barely made but are always welcomed with open hands.

The film, which has been called as Blockbuster is now facing a major flak for its tiresome dialogue-based narration and length, glorifying illegal practices like “Sati” where it is drawing contradicting statements from liberals and feminists at the same time. The film made a mockery of one of the greatest Sufi poets Amir Khusrao (also credited to invent the Hindi language), showing the ruler Allaudin in a complete dark shade which was more violent than his real-life character. Although the film struck true to its word of highlighting the Rajputsin a highly-positive manner who could barely be seen victorious in the pages of “actual” history, it actually differentiated the “Black” and the “White” between its characters on the basis of religion and caste.  Interestingly, unlike the KarniSena who took the nation by storm by the protests, many minority groups kept a mum over it and took the film with a pinch of salt.

Over the years, India has seen films like ‘Aandhi’, ‘Bombay’, ‘Fire’and ‘Aligarh’ which were considered as controversial for highlighting issues like the emergency, Hindu-Muslim riots, nudity and Homosexuality. The makers fought a tough battle with the Censors, but despite facing minor cuts and even a ban, the films got released and earned major positive reviews. But at the same time, many films such as ‘Khwahish’, ‘Murder’ and the films mentioned initially “overused” their creative liberties in such a manner that not only drew controversybut also earned a huge section of the audience out of which many still regret investing their hard earned money.

In the recent past, we have seen films like ‘Udta Punjab’ & ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ whichwere struck by controversies that earned immense support worldwide. Ultimately,both films got a release, became a success, but at the same time, also became a major disappointment for many who stood by it. The sole cause being the (over) hype created by their ongoing controversy.

In the recent past, only a handful of films like “Margarita With A Straw” and “Parched” have been within the ‘Controversial and Festival’ Lot which have not only seen a warm reception but have delivered according to what it stood for despite facing a tough battle with the censors. Not forgetting the Oscar entry of 2017 “Newton” which not only swept reception in Berlin, Hong Kong, Tribeca and Asia-Pacific Festivals but became a major success in India as well where it recently fetched twoFilmfare Awards too.

QaushiqMukherjee’s ‘Gandu’, which got rave reviews at the international platform, was banned in India for its explicit and addiction depiction presently holds a cult following. The maker, went on to make a quirky take on a Rabindranath Tagore play ‘TasherDesh’ in collaboration with Anurag Kashyap and the NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) where he succeeded but failed to charm the audience with the Netflix collaboration ‘Brahman Naman’. His next ‘Garbage’ has recently been selected for the upcoming Berlin Film Festival.

As Indian Cinema is now dominating the world cinema scenario in entirety, the situation with Hindi cinema majorly is that some of the films are taking an alternative of either film festivals and even making a controversy so as to draw an audience and earn a decent amount of collection. The majority of these films are overhyped, which the audience vents out on social media later. If you see on an average, theonlya handful of these films are worth the “wait”.

Interestingly, the situation is fairly different in the South where the majority of the films that are fresh in themes, narratives etc. are given a warm reception. However, the case is pretty similar in the case of some of the potboilers which are not less than what we face in Hindi-speaking region.

Aren’t the makers convinced with the kind of commercial films that are being made which are high on disappointment and less on entertainment? If so, then why this pulling the trigger behind the back of “Festivals” and “Controversies”? Are the makers that under confident of their films being sold at the market? Are the producers that afraid of the purity of the concept?

Celebrated Hollywood producer Jason Blum (Get out& Split) in a recent interview said, thatthe producer should not enforce creative decisions on a filmmaker. The makers should not be overly passionate while making and try to avoid making it too costly. The same goes for many of our makers in India who should follow the footsteps of stalwarts like Anurag Kashyap, Manish Mundra, Ronnie Screwvala, Aanand L. Rai, Dhanush and Anwar Rasheed who juggle well between content and contentment.



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