Veteran film writers feel the current trend of on-screen violence and abusive language is largely unjustified — dramatically or morally.
Abuse is the new muse in Bollywood, what with every second filmmaker nowadays taking vicarious pleasure in inflicting a heavy dose of cruelty — visual and oral — upon our senses. So rapidly is the disease spreading that avid filmgoers are convinced that the day is not far off when films, like tobacco products, would come with a statutory warning about the content being dangerous for human consumption! And if cancer is a natural corollary of long term use of tobacco, it is inevitable that this onslaught of violence, nudity, abusive dialogues and lurid songs will fracture our social conscience beyond repair.
The purpose of art may be providing an enlightened vision but it is an idea alien to most Bollywood producers, barring a few, since they now treat cinema as cutthroat business rather than a passion. Unlike Bimal Roy, Mehboob Khan, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Asit Sen and Nitin Bose whose films washed the ‘dirt’ from our souls, most writers and directors today seem in a hurry to be the devil’s advocate to raise cheap money. Else, what explains the overriding emphasis on abusive language and double entendre, sleaze and mindless vitriol in films like “Delhi Belly”, “Gangs of Wasseypur”, “Pyar Ka Panchnama”, “The Dirty Picture” or “Grand Masti” (to name a few) instead of a poignant human story?
Noted film writer Kamlesh Pandey opines such creations as “arrogance of filmmaking with no concern about a movie being a public art with responsibility to move audiences with good storytelling”. Despite penning outstanding films like “Rang De Basanti”, “Beta”, “Tezaab” and “Saudagar”, Pandey is no moralistic rabble rouser and can accept raw, abusive dialogue provided it is part of a character’s daily life and serves the story. While one may not agree with all the ‘liberties’ taken by Shekhar Kapur in “Bandit Queen” (in the name of real life depiction), one understands Pandey’s reference to the scene where “child Phoolan Devi’s use of an abuse actually defines her character instead of titillating the audience”. But these have to be rare exceptions as “abusive language or an item song in the name of reality” are abuse of the most powerful medium of modern times — apart from glamorising of indecency.
Like the myth that Lata Mangeshkar has sung the highest number of songs in the world and Shah Rukh Khan was the first Bollywood hero to depict a negative role, many critics perpetuate the lie that offensive dialogues are necessary to portray real-life issues in films. However, this argument doesn’t hold water for Sagar Sarhadi who asks if films like “Mujhe Jeeno Do”, “Gunga Jamuna”, “Mother India” or “Bazaar” did not tackle real-life problems of the Indian heartland?
Crediting such filmmakers as “powerful communicators with a great sense of social responsibility”, the star writer-director explains, “These and many earlier films not only depicted reality but also made strong socio-political comments” without resorting to indecent language even though most characters were based on real people who spoke abusively in their natural environments. Writer of some of the finest romances like “Kabhi-Kabhie”, “Silsila”, “Chandni” and “Bazaar” to list a few, Sarhadi’s language in the personal domain is sprinkled with a fair dose of rustic abuse, but he affirms “it cannot be a justification to put abusive dialogues on screen”.
Sarhadi emphasises a writer or director’s job is to provide a deeper insight or understanding of an issue rather than glorifying and ornamenting outward appearances of actors and props as most films do these days. In a certain sense, Sarhadi is not off the mark. With entertainment trading on ‘emotional violence’ (abusive dialogues, pelvic thrusts and suggestive lyrics too are forms of aggression), producers depict ‘evil’ with great relish.
This is a disturbing trend on television too, wherein murder is a nightly fare for family audiences in the garb of information, via serials like “Crime Patrol” and “Shaitaan”. American psychologists have long blamed its cinema and television industry’s graphic accounts of ‘violence’ for the country’s high percentage of mental illnesses, and we can only wonder where Indian citizens would end up if this trend continues unabated on our screens. No wonder the highly respected actor Tom Hanks recently slammed glorification of violence in Hollywood movies, but we have to wait and see if any Bollywood stalwart would object to this blatant ‘abuse’ of screen and senses!
Prominent writer Javed Siddiqui has over 50 film screen works to his credit and is nauseated by “abuse camouflaged in the name of a script’s demand”. A respected word weaver who has given a large number of thought provoking dramas and wide variety of films from “Taal” to “Chakra” and “Umrao Jaan” to “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge”, Siddiqui believes indecent language and senseless violence is on the rise due to “lack of skills and a noble vision to communicate a story”.
Anguished by the apathy of irresponsible filmmakers’ towards society’s well being, Siddiqui opines abusive films will lead to “erosion of moral values that’ll harm several generations including their own children” and regret thereafter will be of no use. He rues many fine writers and directors are “selling their souls for bucks” endangering everyone’s future.
It is a serious issue that administrators and educationists must seriously reflect upon since films, television, internet and computer games are all brainwashing children and adults alike with glorification of abuse, violence and sex. According to research by late Dr. David R Hawkins, a mental processes specialist, every onslaught of ‘abuse’ damages the human mind and nervous system leading to depression and physical weaknesses. Hawkins’ far reaching findings have established how manic depression is a growing menace in America because of years of glamorous depiction of violence in sex and speech.
Surely we must take heed from other’s mistakes, and if we don’t, probably it’ll be too late to avert a disaster of monstrous proportions!