Analysing reel vs real of crime and punishment

Journalist Hussain Zaidi at the launch of his book Class Of 83.  

A research report by a Mumbai-based production house focused on crime and courtroom drama has found that 37% of crime depicted on screen is in the form of vigilante killings.

The research conducted by Civic Studios analysed 30 movies, television shows and web series released over the last three years. The research also found that web series portray corruption and ineffectiveness of the public institutions more than movies and TV shows.

The release of the research report was followed by a panel discussion ‘The Reel vs. Real of Crime and Punishment’. Participants included national award-winning filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan, Devika Prasad from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, documentary maker Esha Paul, and director and human rights lawyer Vijay Hiremath. “I haven’t seen any movie apart from Court which has depicted the actual judicial system,” Mr. Hiremath said.

Ms. Prasad cited examples of movies like Simmba and Gangaajal to make a point about how films have neglected portraying the actual framework of government services. “Such portrayals do not help us understand the working of public institutions,” she said. Mr. Ghaywan and Ms. Paul commented on the representation of the Dalit population in movies or the lack of it. “Caste is like an elephant in the room whom nobody wants to look at,” Mr. Ghaywan said.

A member of the Dalit community himself, Mr. Ghaywan said he felt ashamed to be working in an industry that does not do justice to his own community in its on-screen depiction. The depiction of investigation techniques used by on-screen policemen also found mention in the discussion, with emphasis on the cliched and overused portrayal of brutal police interrogation in lock-ups.

“An investigation cannot only be making an arrest or extracting a confession,” claimed Ms. Prasad. The event also included the launch of journalist and author S. Hussain Zaidi's latest book Class Of 83. The book takes a closer look at the encounter specialists of the Mumbai Police, who were in the headlines all through the 1980s and 1990s for gunning down members of the criminal underworld when it was at its peak.

Mr. Zaidi was interviewed by senior journalist Dipti Nagpaul about storytelling, non-fiction crime writing and his experiences as a crime reporter. Talking about underworld gangsters such as Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Rajendra Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan, and Arun Gawli, Mr. Zaidi said, “They are all cowards. I have not seen a single gangster who could be praised for his principles.”

Mr. Zaidi’s works include Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia, Mafia Queens of Mumbai, Black Friday, and My Name is Abu Salem.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 4:48:02 PM |

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