Youth Power-A Dividend or a Disaster? Role of popular Cinema
- From: Ratna Magotra <ratnamagotra@...>Sharing some of my many stray thoughts...Ratna Magotra
Youth Power-A Dividend or a Disaster? Role of popular Cinema
India indeed is a young nation with 34 per cent of population between 10-24 years of age
according to 2011 Census report. Economic advantage of young nation is tremendous and
the country is well positioned to become an economic giant; at least it was until the economic
slowdown started to take its toll. A good democratic system needs to absorb the aspirations of
this vibrant section.
The youth today is restless, ready to take to the streets when moved by an honest cause like
it happened spontaneously, after the gang rape of a young physiotherapist in Delhi, before
spreading to other cities and towns. A similar mobilization was seen earlier with India against
Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare in 2011. Corruption had emerged as a major failure
of the system and the youth rose to the occasion demanding transparency and good governance.
It will be interesting to see what sort of response Anna gets this time when he restarts the
movement from Patna on 30 January this year.
It is in this background of such a potential in youth that the involvement of young in serious and
heinous crimes like rape and terrorism is worrying. Many of those arrested for rape, robbery,
murder and terrorist activities are young boys in their late teens and early twenties. The minor
involved in Delhi gang rape has been reported to be the most brutal among the assaulters.
This is a matter for urgent attention as we do not get tired of speaking about the demographic
dividend of youth in India. Is it the responsibility of the youth alone that they do not veer from
the righteous path? Should we pass the entire onus of values upon parents and teachers? Or
should this responsibility rest on all of us who are part of civil society? It is not unusual to
hear in varying contexts that individual behavior is but reflection of the society, be it in matters
of corruption or serious crimes. Films and Television have been considered a big influence on
youth through the content including music.
On my way to work yesterday, a private cab (TAB) drew my attention to strange wordings in
bold and prominent by its isolation from the rest of message, Bhootniwale Not used to seeing
such expletives in public spaces, I was curious to look more closely. It turned out to be the
advertisement for Vishal Bhardwajs Matru aur Bijlee ka Mandola. Now he is a celebrated film
maker and the movie has got some good reviews too. This Ad was perhaps only the lure of the
language and abuse that the audience would get in the movie. Earlier Wasseypur ke Gangs
was said to have lot of abusive language. Tapori language has been long since promoted in
our films and one occasionally hears in ads on car radio too- all this must be very popular and
successful too! New age directors are bringing realty as it exists in smaller towns and villages of
India, these film makers are highly talented and smart and since the movies are cleared by censor
board, any criticism is passed on as moral policing by the closed minded or non-artistic
people if not by the fringe elements! Youngsters indeed enjoy the action and excitement but soon
forget them. Then what is the fuss about? Problem arises when some mannerism, some peppy
phrases survive in public discourse and occasionally find expression in misplaced adventures. A
restaurant in Bandra,Pe , named after a choice expletive degrading woman, is frequented and
defended by many celebrities, who discussed the Delhi gang rape and violence against women
very animatedly on television.
Many of us grew with a heavy influence of movies and film songs of our times. The soulful
lyrics still move us, uplift the despondent spirit or simply heighten the spiritual quotient. Films
reflected hope and optimism of post independence days; socialism was not unfashionable due
to overwhelming poverty in the country while the left liberals had great influence on Film
industry of 50s and 60s. In late seventies, after some inane song and dance movies, corruption
and injustice made underworld to take over even as the youth was getting tired of emotion
and tear jerkers. A super hero did single handedly what Dawood Ibrahim could not do and
swayed an entire generation to become angry and fight not only in grey shades but also on the
wrong side of law and still emerge as hero. Simple divide between good and evil of past where
evil always lost, repented or died was lost forever. Youth eventually got tired of the violence
justified by childhood trauma or injustice by those in Authority. With liberalization, the rich
and sophisticated urban India had arrived and films provided with New Avatar of role models.
Life style promoted by movies changed many a rituals and wedding trousseaus of middle class;
heroines were serenaded in Europe or other exotic locales; a true fantasy world had arrived
where the poor and not so rich could dream, away from their own miserable existence.
And then arrived the real from our villages and towns who speak and behave just as they do
in real life challenging the youth of cities getting bored with luxuries actually available if one
had the cash! There were brilliant sparks in between showing good mix of reality and class
entertainment but purpose and commitment shown by earlier film makers were missing. Role
of cinema has been always to entertain but somewhere there was an unsaid desire to bring a
freshness of ideas and process them to bring about a churning in the society. The film makers
and the actors did not hesitate from owning a responsibility to civil society that in turn would
shape future behavior of youth. Even now the actors do not get tired of being idolized by young
fans. They deeply worry when the adulation ebbs egging them on to look for different avenues to
keep the romance alive.
It is for the film industry to decide what they think public wants or should want. It is for
the Censor Board to decide what needs to be cleared for exhibition. It is for the people to
ask for what they wish to see and it is for the society to think where it needs to intervene. A
demographic dividend should not become a demographic disaster- it is a heavy responsibility.
The youth needs entertainment and they also need guidance not policing; films can become
friends and teachers rather than preachers.
Where the mind is led forward by thee, into ever widening thought and action.
In to that heaven of freedom, my father, LET MY COUNTRY AWAKE!