In the subcontinent there are numerous traditions and practices that are based on ignorance and which have captivated the progress of the societies. Of such negative influenced ignorance, unsociability, dowry systems, rigidity of caste system and purdah system have done remarkable harm to the society. These influences are present in our society and are practiced without the repercussion of the aftermath that they bring with them, the society keeps following them like nobility preached through ancestral traditions. Cinema films have, had and will continue to torch light to eradicate the stubborn stains in the sub continental society. Cinema has been used to promote eradication of trafficking, illiteracy, slavery, promote national integration, family planning, and inter caste/religion marriages. Cinema can be used as a tool to contribute to guide the society to proceed along the righteous path. It has been and will be used as a mean to remove ignorance from the sub continental society.
There are dynamic views and realization of cinema to different people associated to this form of media, for instance for the Producers it is a mean of a lucrative business, for directors and backroom staff, it is a form of canvas for them there they can perform their art work to the masses for personal desire and satisfaction, for on screen performers, such as actors and actresses, its is a mean of earning money and face value, while for the masses it is a mean of cheap and interesting form of entertainment and pastime for their viewing and listening pleasure. This is one of the key reasons why cinema has been a flourishing industry for ages and hold of a major market share of the entertainment industry.
Since its beginning with the film ‘Raja Harish Chandra’ (1913), the cinema has remained the most powerful media for mass communication in India. Cinema has the ability to combine entertainment with communication of ideas. It has the potential appeal for its audience. It certainly leaves other media far behind in making such an appeal. As in literature, cinema has produced much which touches the innermost layers of the man. It mirrors the episodes in such a manner that leaves an impact on the coming generations. Cinema presents an image of the society in which it is born and the hopes, aspirations, frustration and contradictions present in any given social order.
In the present era, cinema is getting replaced by small screen productions. Televised serials and programmes are replacing craze. They advertise and earn revenue for industry. Thus films telecast has become a source of further income for the industry and trade.
Man has instincts, different thoughts flow which leave an effect on the minds. The person laughs with the films and tears with them. Scenes of ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, a film by Raj Kumar Santoshi and Manoj Goswami makes people national-minded and sentimentally involved in the film show. The fim dialogues are occupying places in our real life. Dialogues of Mugle Azam found place in the normal interaction of people for a long time. People talked and walked like Prithvi Raj, the great king Akbar. In the same way, plays by Agha Hashat and Devdas by Sharat Chandra left a deep impact on the masses. In the same way, film ‘Sholey’ created an imending effect on so many.
Example of Bengali Cinema and how it portrays:
Bengali cinema is closely linked to Modernity and Realism. The most renowned and famous film makers of the Bengali cinema along with the modernist thoughts chose the genre of realism to reach to a new height. Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray are some of the greatest examples, who have played with the theme of realism and modernity in their films.
Modernity is a vast topic and can be defined into many ways. But we will mainly focus on the artistic, social and political modernization. Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Pather Pancheli’ is one of the ultimate examples of films portraying realism along with several elements of modernity. It was an inspiration to Vittorio De Sicca’s Bicycle Thief, 1948 which was based on Italian neo-realism. Ray’s work was a stroke of genius. It reflected the social progress and change in Bengal and also had modernized ideas and concepts.
In his film Pather Panchali, Ray has focused on leaving the old ideas behind, moving on and working on new concepts. He put emphasis on the fact that, with the passage of time the conventional ways of living, family ideas and traditional lifestyle have become outdated and needs to be altered accordingly. During the climax, Apu and his family, leaves their home and later departs from the village. Their ancestor’s home was the sole reason why they were not leaving that village. They shifted to another place for a better living and life style. By relocating, they were able to sell off the old house which was of no use to them, instead was the reason for their daughter’s life.
This film is an evolution from traditional times to modern way of living. Ray used many metaphors throughout his film which were related to a need for change and modernity. I think old aunt was a perfect example of metaphorical usage. She was exhausted, old woman who had nothing to do than just wandering around the house. She is frequently told by everyone to leave which indicates that she is unwanted and worthless in the house. The family feared famine, survival and poverty. They were unhappy about the traditional way of living and traditions. The same way, they were annoyed by the presence of old aunt. Later, we founds out that the old aunt rambles, after several unsuccessful attempts of searching for a shelter place, she dies. Death of old ideas is the metaphorical meaning of old aunt’s death. Ray wishes for a change, something which is never ending. Through his illustrations, he focused on a need for change so that we can break away from the traditions which are holding us back and is a form of barrier to our progress. By means of aunt death, he is able to show how traditions have become out-of-date.
Ray’s another great work Charulata (1964), also focuses on bringing a change. The story sets in an upper middle class Bengali society. In this context, a lonesome housewife falls in love with her brother-in-law while they both were boosting each other to write. He applied two different thoughts of traditionalism and modernity, home and desire and literature and politics together.
Ray’s films have a humanistic approach. The depth of his works is far reaching. It has captured the human heart and extracted the emotions from it. Apu throwing the necklace stolen by Durga, Amal leaving home for the fear of being unfaithful, Durga stealing food from her aunt are examples of Ray’s humanistic work.
Ray is also inspired by Neo-realism. From my point of view, it is because his stories are largely concentrating on the society. He cannot make them fictional because then it would irrelevant to the society. His stories are not meant to be films, in fact a reality which was an image of the society in which he has lived in. It was a complete imitation of Bengali society. The characters were portrayal of real personalities. For example, Durga is Hindu mythological character. When you look at her, you will not judge her as a good or evil character but will think of her as a woman who had existed in the past and had different attributes which mirrored her personality. She wasn’t a fictional character.
Correspondingly, Ritwik Ghatak’s films introduced the modernistic themes of isolation, alienation and need for home that evolves around the Bengali society.
In his socially applicable film Ajantrik, Ghatak brought together the concept of isolation and alienation to the society. He demonstrates a man’s love for his car; car is a lifeless object. That man had a disturbed social life where he was not able to bond tighter with people around him. There are scenes like when Bimal is having a conversation with his car. He takes care of his car like he is a living companion. At the same time, didn’t give importance to what the society says. This shows the importance of the car, Jagaddal. Ghatak treat the car as a living character and not as a prop. He also showed the car’s point of view. He wants to prove his point that with the introduction of modernization; nowadays people are more materialistic orientated. They value property more than relations.
Likewise in Subarnarekha (1965), Ghatak has focused more on the theme of home (alongside the sub-themes such as relations and happiness.His work is also about modernity, change and its effects and how partition affected Ghatak and the society.
Subarnarekha is a after partition story of a family relocating to the bank of Subarnarekha River. Throughout the story, Sita search for happiness. He talks about the new home feeling and that she confesses her secrets, happiness and woes to a river.
What I learned from Ghatak’s films is he considers that society has transformed from being a community to a combined living of different characters. Individualism is present all over his work. People have how people have gone from being lovers of nature and man-made beauty (like lakes and montains) to cars and property.
One may say that in the films of both, Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, you can find many modernist essentials. Their work ranges from content to themes like anthropomorphism, home and modernity; also their craft which is the use of POV shots, Brechtian elements, different style of cinematography and manipulating space.
It is always good and well groomed to see good subjects on cinema. They have a very positive and long-lasting effect on the minds whereas cheap and shabby movies affect the tender minds of audience very badly. There is general feeling that present day crimes are all due to effects of cinema. Besides open and demonstrative subjects throw tarnished messages. They spoil our culture, and society. Cinema and TV badly affect the health of the youngsters. They neglect studies and physical games to spend more time on this entertainment. School-going children and society children fail to make use of good impacts and are influenced by the bad part of the programmes on the air.
The motive is not to discard cinema or TV telecast so easily. The desirable act will be to selective and choosy for programmes. Good movies should be seen by the students. The movies of TV shows should be very much restricted and for a fix time.
The cinema exercises a great influence on the mind of the people. It has a great educative value. It can achieve splendid results in the field of expansion of education. There are certain subjects, such as science and geography, which can be more effectively taught with the help of talkies. Lessons on road sense, rules of hygiene and civic sense can be taught to the students and the ‘ public as well in a very effective manner with the help of cinema pictures. Many successful experiments have been made in various countries on the utility of films as a means of education. Feature films have been produced for school and college students and students are being benefitted by them.
Cinema films have the power to influence the thinking of the people. They have changed the society and social trends. They have introduced new fashions in society. They may be described as pace-setters. They can create a direct impact on our social life. Films can go a long way towards arousing national consciousness and also in utilising the energies of the youth in social reconstruction and nation-building by a skilful adaption of good moral, social and educative themes, and by introduction of popular sentiments, films can, to a great extent, formulate and guide public opinion