India for the first time after many decades is looking inwards.

And as it does that as a nation, it has started to stare at the truth right in the eye and express itself with an honesty which had become as alien to us as the cinema we had started to make in the eighties and nineties of the previous century.

For once, India can laugh at itself and also mourn its failures and acknowledge its strengths and weaknesses with equal balance. That is because the new breed of expressionists, be it film makers, artistes or other creative folk, are irreverent to the previous generation, which, because of its apathy, has left its young a nation which they must stand to take the responsibility to correct.

Indian films died a death somewhere in the late eighties along with the Indian psyche which became one of hopelessness. The faith in the system was lost thereby the belief in people, in the sense of who they are, had started to collapse. The trash that the business of entertainment began to mete out in the last two decades before the turn of the century, left not just the audience but even the expressionists uninspired, therefore the whole concept of reflecting and mirroring our societies, which the art of cinema stands for, fell into a black hole and found itself lost in an abyss of nothingness.

Mindless song, dance, action and storytelling did more to harm the individual than to take him from one stage of progression to another. It had to finally come to its own end with the revolution of technology that took place suddenly and which snatched the power from the hands of the monopolists and gave it to a breed of young, tireless and passionate youngsters who for the first time kicked the fear of failure out of the window and risked their storytelling by changing the grammar of cinema, enough to make it a more universal language that started to be understood by the audience in its entirety.

Today if an Abhishek Kapoor stands tall with Rock On under his belt and Imtiaz Ali can be proud to have shunned the formula to create another with Jab We Met. If Tarun Mansukhani, Abhinav Kashyap, Anusha Rizvi and Mohit Suri can boast of having given the industry a new direction through a Dostana, Dabangg, Peepli Live and Crook (so what if the latter did not do well at the box office), it is because they have the guts and the courage to make a film as they see it, not as some bloke sitting somewhere in a remote corner of India who fantasizes a half naked woman lap dancing on his thighs sees it, and could thus compel cinema to be as ‘he’ thinks it should, because the obscene Mr. Moneybags called the distributor also called the shots. The directors, technicians and actors were left to titillate the sensibilities of the debauched if they wished to earn a living from the art they loved.

Let’s face it. If it wasn’t the sacrifice of Anuraag Kashyaps’ five odd films which still lie in the cans, or for that matter, the audacity of a Vishaal Bhardwaj to pluck Indian Cinema from the tulip fields of Switzerland, where the story could jump to from the Sarson fields in Punjab with utter lack of logic and be carried along with its heroines in chiffon saris to places unseen by an average Indian at the time, and cut the glam to take it to a gritty UP, one of the poorest and most backward states in India with his Omkara, cinema would not be where it is today. My own film the critically acclaimed White Noise, which was a commercial disaster in 2005, left me stumped because only 5 prints were released by the distributors in a country of 1 billion where 40 percent speak English, the language it was made in.

I cannot but praise the efforts of Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya which was the beginning for the change of idiom, or for that matter many of Shyam Benegals’ and Govind Nihalani’s films which were forced into the art arena by an insensitive and greedy industry which only saw big money to be the criterion, never displaying an intention to take low budget and honest films to larger audiences, across the country through courageous distribution. It was perhaps only one Mahesh Bhatt who carried his Arth, Saaransh, Janam and Zakhm with a defiance which required guts that nobody else from his generation ever had, and since he is a favorite film maker of mine, he deserves a mighty applause here.

I have nothing against big money. But I am against twisted minds which only tease the voyeuristic and hypocritical sensibilities of man, without leaving him anything to take home but confusion about his bearings. The present state of general entertainment on television is as stark a truth as what cinema’s truth was about a decade ago.

The cinema of the people of India has to be one which reflects Indian lives honestly and young film makers as well as older film makers like Prakash Jha who continue to remain young even now, have started to do that, whether about Indian lives in the back of the beyond Bihar, or be it the lives of Indian’s in Miami, Florida.

What makes me even more optimistic about the future of Indian Cinema is that this present young breed of makers have managed to get the so called superstars to finally have faith in their expression. They have seen to it that the stars enjoy working on characters which are rooted in present times and which are not some robotic Barbie dolls doing a confused kathak mixed with salsa number in some European country with no footing on the ground whatsoever.

And it is certainly more than welcome to see writers and directors today, spoofing on the nonsense that we have lived with as we grew up. DevD for instance with its music as well as its take on the desperate Devdas was more than what we had ever asked for. Who wants to cry today, over lost love?

Because the truth is that now everybody moves on and forgets the past.


Anonymous said…
Do people actually move on and forget the past?