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What is Cinema for- Is it Just Entertainment or a Medium to Empower?

Where do you get your values from? Who shaped your beliefs?

One would say, our parents, friends, and neighbors influenced us. Partially it’s correct.

Partially because you are less of what your parents told you to be and more of the kind of media you consumed throughout your life. Especially, in today’s internet generation it is very relevant.

A child before learning how to walk learns about the smartphone. Before joining a school, a child learns to play YouTube.

Most of the teenagers of this age are not what their parents taught them in childhood but what they watched in movies and YouTube and what they saw on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Among these, movies or cinema is the most prestigious cultural activity in the world. It is that art form which has the biggest impact on the people.

There is no doubt that cinema has an astonishing power to induce emotions. It affects us way more than we think.

It sounds really weird to stop and ask yourself ‘what cinema is really for?’

Do we watch just to get entertained or it has some other purpose?

Maybe we should go back to the past to know how it all started.

Who invented cinema?

No one person invented the cinema. If you ask a French, he would say Lumière brothers. If you ask an American, he would say Thomas Alva Edison invented cinema. Whereas, if you ask a Belgian, he would say Plateau.

Cinema is not a result of just one person’s effort. It’s an accumulative effort by various scientists. It’s a gift from Science.

Gradually with time, cinema has evolved. Today we can even watch the cinema in 3-dimension.

From decades, cinema is a strong medium to influence society, Cinema is regarded as a voice of society.

It has been found in numerous scientific studies that watching movies have a lasting effect on your brain, which in turn affects your thoughts and perceptions.

Different genre of movies has different effects on your brain. While horror and intense movies can cause a spike in adrenaline and cortisol levels that can trigger memories of traumatic events you have experienced.

Comedy and romanticized movies lower your blood pressure, cortisol levels, and make you feel light.

All in all, it is clear that cinema is not just entertainment. It affects your brain, your reality, your beliefs.

While we give so much time to choose our clothes, shoes, or accessories sadly we don’t choose movies most often consciously.

We believe that how does watching a cinema will affect me. It’s just time pass or mindless entertainment.

But studies are indicating something else. Cinema is much more than just entertainment.

Thus it is no surprise that the cinema industry of a country, state, region has a profound effect on its viewers. What movies portray becomes beliefs of people, especially youth.

Therefore, we must pause and ask ourselves what kind of cinema are we watching. Are they affecting us in a negative way?

In India, there are many film industries in many parts of the country, but the biggest one is probably the Hindi film industry or bollywood.

Most of us grow up watching a number of Hindi movies. Like most Indian kids I also watched numerous movies in my childhood (nowadays I don’t watch much). Today we have the opportunity to watch cinema from all over the world.

Exposure to the world cinema (or best of world cinema) makes me realize how beautiful art cinema can be. It’s a great way of storytelling. Most importantly, it has an amazing power to engage a large audience.

On the other hand, it is also a great platform to poison people’s minds with ill thoughts. If portrayed negatively cinema can paralyze a generation with damaging content.

I am worried about the current scenario of cinema in India. There was a time when we had people like Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Guru Dutt, etc. in the cinema industry.

But time has changed and today the soul of cinema has been taken away in the Hindi cinema industry. There is merely any art left in the majority of the movies.

I haven’t studied anything about the art of cinema, so probably I should not comment much on what’s good or bad. But as an audience people around me are talking about the same thing. Even experts in this area have the same concerns. Read the full article here.

In a country where most people do not have access to watch world cinema, Hindi movies remain the major source for cinema lovers in rural and small places in India.

This gives bollywood a tremendous power to influence Indian people, especially youth. But with power comes responsibility and bollywood nowadays doesn’t care about responsibility or accountability.

You just look at the last 20 or 30 years of movies made in bollywood.

What do they portray?

Women are shown as sex symbols. I mean what is the logic of an item song where a woman is dancing around 500 men and portraying her body to a catchy number. And yes, the usage of vulgar words is a must in an item song.

This propagates the attitude of viewing women only in terms of their bodies and nothing beyond that. The trend of women liking a bad boy is glorified in Bollywood.

According to them, a hardworking, honest, nice guy is a looser. To impress a girl one must have a history of dating several girls, a luxurious life, and a ripped body. No doubt this largely influences the mind of youngsters who watch these movies.

The concept of romanticism is completely ruined by Hindi movies. Here movies have a trend where hero follows the heroine in pursuit of her love, even after she clearly refuses. Hero follows the girl until she gives in and accepts.

Ladki ki haan main hi naa hai (There is yes reside in a girl’s no)” is a gift from bollywood.

As a result, in real life men follows women wherever they go, making them feel unsafe. Respect towards women and real companionship in relationships are rarely shown in Hindi movies nowadays.

The latest trend being dignifying alcohol, drugs, murder, etc in the movies. The most trending web-series in the OTT platforms such as Netflix or Amazon prime are those which have violence related to them.

Many psychiatrists believe that today through TV and movies a child may see more violence in thirty minutes than the average adult experience in a lifetime.

People in this industry have no interest in making movies on science or on topics that can remove ignorance like education, family planning, economic security, etc.

They can make movies on gangsters or criminals but how many movies have you watched about freedom fighters or Indian scientists in bollywood?

The irony is Britain can make a movie on Srinivas Ramanujan but India cannot.

The major issue is that the Hindi film industry nowadays run by a handful of dictators. There is no democracy. Moreover, they say ‘we can make whatever we want who is forcing you to watch those movies’.

True, nobody is forcing us to go to theaters and watch movies. They have made it clear that they are not going to change unless viewers of their movies stop watching their contents.

However, indirectly they do play with people’s psychology. These days the marketing budget of a movie is higher than the movie itself. You are watching an ad of a movie on TV, on your mobile, computer, newspaper, basically whatever digital products or services you are opening.

For people who have access to the internet (which most youth of India nowadays have) please enlighten yourself with great content, watch better movies. Once you know how a good cinema looks like, your brain by default won’t tolerate any shitty bollywood movie.

What frustrates me most about people is their celebrity worship culture. Being in Mumbai I have seen a few incidents how much people are crazy about movie heroes. These people can even risk their lives for them. Admiring someone is a good thing but becoming a slave is not.

You might be thinking about what I can do personally in this matter?

Cinema is an open industry completely dependent on audiences. If you watch movies frequently then you have more power than you think to change this industry.

For god’s sake don’t believe movies are just for entertainment, it will affect you either in a positive way or negative way depending on what kind of contents you are watching.

Cinema is one of the most effective modes of mass communication. It can be an excellent source of information, knowledge, and entertainment.

Research-based movies give you the influence of research and inventing new things. A historical movie tells about ancient times and their lifestyle which urges man to adopt or in some manner, influence from them. Classic movies give classic arts and lifestyle.

Cinema can bring a positive effect on society only if it wants to. And as audiences, we also have a great responsibility to discard the bad ones and accept the good ones.

For that, we need to identify great cinemas. And we can do that by exposing ourselves to magnificent movies in the world of cinema.

How to sum up this vast subject of cinema?

Remember you are not just what you eat, read, or whom you meet. You are also what you watch.

Rudolf Arnheim, Professor of the Psychology of ArtEmeritus at the Harvard University said it best-

“A film is its own art form with a distinctive artistic potential … you always have to leave something to be interpreted, you have to send a message. What does not have a meaning has no place in art”

What are your thoughts on cinema in India?

Do you believe it affected your life?

Let me know in the comment section

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Have a cheerful week. Until next time.

Joy

References:

  1. Bollywood: Entertainment as the opiate of the masses
  2. How movies influence our lives
  3. How movies influence behavior
  4. Invention of cinema
  5. Effects of movies on the brain

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2 Comments

  • Kongkona Borah

    I love the article, nicely depicted how we common man think literally about watching movies. For me, when you want to relax your brain you can go for funny movies that will make you happy, otherwise watch movies with good content.
    You can also add an article of what kind of tv shows one should watch.

    • Joy

      Thanks, Kongkona. I am glad that you liked the article. We take movies very lightly, I mean how does a 2-hour movie can affect me in the long term, that’s what we think most often. But I believe a movie can also affect us subconsciously. We try to imitate them unknowingly.
      Moreover, a larger section of people in our country watch only Hindi movies or they do not have access/habit to watching world cinema. That’s why people crave for Bollywood movies. But if we try to consciously watch better movies, things might change.
      Honestly, I am not a movie buff, I don’t watch movies or tv shows frequently. But I wrote about some channels a few months back. You can have a look at that https://joyexcel.com/blog/my-favourite-video-channels-for-learning-and-development/

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