Visuals of violence

HEATED DEBATE on the picturisation

HEATED DEBATE on the picturisation   | Photo Credit: Photo M. Periasamy

What is the yardstick of showing violence in films? Members of the Cinema Club of Coimbatore discuss the matter

Jack Woltz (played by John Marley) in The Godfather wakes up to the bloody severed head of his prized stud horse in his bed.

The message from his enemies: Jack may face the same end if he fails to toe their line.

Is this a more effective way of showing violence than depicting the act of beheading itself?

Members of the Cinema Club of Coimbatore (CCC), who got together at Oxford Bookstore, discussed and debated the intensity of violence churned out in films, and came up with suggestions on how to stop such violence from entering our lives, especially the children’s.

The glorification

To begin with, it was encounter time. Film buffs ripped apart recent blockbusters Vettaiyadu Vilayadu and Shootout at Lokhandwala and others such as Kaakha Kaakha and Kuridhi Punal for their justification of encounter-based themes. “In films, violence is a staged act, and it gets glorified to such an extent that reality gets lost,” they say.

A member drew attention to Hindutva-based violence in recent films. “Be it Pokkiri, Sami or VV, what comes to the fore is the authoritarian violence of upper castes. In Vijayakant’s films, why is it that he addresses only Islamic groups on peace? There are so many other groups within the country that disrupt peace,” he says.

And, if it’s a cabaret dancer or an office secretary, the choice of name is always Rosy or Rita. Do filmmakers consciously mislead the public? “No,” says Kamala Kannan, president of Cinema Club. “It comes naturally. If it is terrorism, it has to be someone with a beard.”

Visualising violence took the discussion to the next level.“What is happening now is beautification of violence. Most violence in our society is structural (as dealt in movies Ardh Satya and Ankur) — death and violence arising out of systematic denial of land, food, health and education, on the basis of caste, class, gender and governance or the lack of it, and this remains largely unexplored.

“Now, it is reduced to physical violence. This trend is just an example of the impact of industrialisation on the art form,” says Rakesh S. Katarey of Amrita Institute of Mass Communication.

The focus is not on how painful violence is, but on how violence is packaged. “Violence is presented in an entertaining manner. In Ram Gopal Varma’s films, for instance, a pistol is no longer treated as life threatening, it is called ghoda (horse), an instrument of supreme grace,” he adds.

Another burning issue that took centre stage was the ‘participatory violence’ induced in children through video games and a gamut of cartoon channels.

“In films, we only get to witness violence. Here, they have an opportunity to perform, and this is much more dangerous.”


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