Indian movies has lost the plot

If you just keep doing things, you spend all your time justifying what you have done. But if you dream and deliberate, you only do what you can
justify. This is ever so true of cinema. People are trying to churn out film after film, not understanding the dramatic need of certain lives, their relevance to their milieu and their identification with them.

Why should we make a film at all? Do we really have a story to tell that must be told? Is the maker’s dramatic need just as compelling as that of the film’s main protagonist? Are we going to repeat ourselves or simply copy what someone else has done? Are we so deeply passionate about an ambience or a milieu that we deeply wish to share it?

I did what i did in my first film Gaman because there were questions i could not answer myself. Questions born out of a poetic quest for an overwhelming dramatic reality. They needed an equally poetic medium. I wanted to share these questions with people before their footprint was lost in the sands of time.

It is equally necessary to share this, as it is to understand the perception of the language of moving images. To start with the content aspect of the newly-found language of moving images in a culture which, to a great extent bypassed the experience of the written word in the post Independence period. It came before we knew what to say and how to say it; at a time when reflective writing traditions of Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Urdu were dwindling.

I was in awe of the way the medium was used by Satyajit Ray in Bengal and others elsewhere, discovering and revealing reality layer by layer. It collectively brought people to the same level of angst as the maker. People had begun to feel the bitter truth of an independent India. The beauty of that truth was that it was our own truth, our truthful artistic best and showed it belonged to a country that was coming of age.

The language of moving images has to be felt; it must be a language in which you dream, plan, execute and market. India’s plight has been deeply felt and expressed by many poets and writers of the generation gone by. They migrated to Bombay to shape the mind of the nation through their stories and lyrics. Not all of them survived the callous commercial nature of the industry; they were forced to step down from their godlike, prophetic pedestals to play second fiddle to producers, directors, music directors or filmstars. Many became frustrated.

Cinema, the most sacred and powerful medium of the Modern Age, has been turned into an odd commodity for the entertainment business. It has created more insecurities than confidence. Cinema in India is lost, stuck between a highly personalised and subjective art form and an extremely crude and mindless commercial enterprise.

Cinema and architecture, both of which require a vision of great patronage, have suffered due to the absence of a cohesive outlook after independence. We could not understand the gravity of our predicament, politically, economically and culturally. In order to forge a new identity after independence, we negated our extremely valuable cultural and artistic heritage. We took our silent masses for granted and ignored their socio-economic cultural emancipation, leaving them to serve as fodder for petty politicians and businessmen and a mindless film industry. These masses — the real power of India’s democracy — are grappling helplessly with huge issues and finally end up as slumdogs dreaming of becoming millionaires through the power of the small screen in search of eyeballs.

What should have happened after Independence through this art form is a question we can reflect on 60 years later. To find answers we need to look within, look around or we may look to our mentor Hollywood, which we have mindlessly copied without seeing the macro picture of their vision.

Hollywood is the American Idol. It is the Universal Idol, the Promethean Man who can never go wrong. I don’t doubt the enviable position it has carved out across the world, using the language of moving images to appear not just as brand leaders but as leaders of humanity. They have made hundreds of films to ensure the Holocaust is never repeated in history. But what have we done for the even larger holocaust of 1857 or the largest ever migration of human history following the partition of India in 1947? All we have done is make emotional war films with lots of Pakistan-bashing without understanding the dialectics of the historical forces that divided us and turned a neighbour into a monster.

There is a lot we need to do for ourselves in this exciting medium, which makes legends out of people, movement out of ideas and destinations out of places. We have to make up for lost time and take quantum leaps forward.

To take people through time to timelessness. From the reality of the present to the illusions of the past. We need a host of skills currently conspicuous by their absence — writing a modern screenplay, evolved production design and cinematography and finally finding global markets for our products. We have a long way to go, a long way to dream where fini coronat opus, the end crowns the deed.
- by a FilmMaker

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