It has become obvious throughout the ages that the society influences movies and that the society is in turn largely influenced by movies. They are regarded as the voice of the society. Indians generally tend to have a “follow the herd” mentality. So, when something is done in the movies, it usually becomes the latest fad. In India, the leading men in the movie industry have almost a cult like following. The diehard fans do anything and everything to imitate and meet these heroes. The film industry does not realise the impact that it can create on the society. They do not realise the impact of their movies and the message it propagates.
The concept of ‘sex sells’ has always existed in India. Women are generally shown as sex symbols. This promotes the objectification of women and thus, degrades them. Most commercial movies, even to this date, has one “item song” in it where a scantily clad woman dances to a catchy number. This is done to increase the popularity of the movie. From yesteryear actress Rekha to the global sensation, Priyanka Chopra, all of them have done at least one item song in their careers. This speaks volumes about the trend in the industry. This propagates the attitude of viewing women only in terms of their bodies and nothing beyond that. Movies also showcase a very shallow mentality; women are shown falling for the rich guy driving a luxury car, whereas the nice poor guy is ignored. This largely influences the mind of the youngsters who watch these movies.
Another thing is that relationships are over romanticised in most movies. The youth would then believe that all relationships should be like the ones shown on screen and chase something that does not exist. Movies have this trend where the hero follows the heroine in pursuit of her love, even after she clearly refuses, which are clear instances of stalking. He constantly follows her, until she gives in and accepts his love. In real life, this is a major problem for women. Men follow them wherever they go, making them feel unsafe and paranoid. The men also indulge in catcalling and eve teasing which becomes a huge problem to the women. Mani Rathnam, famous romantic director in the Tamil film industry has shown this trope in his movies. From the old cult classic, Alaipayuthey to the latest OK Kanmani, all the great films have adhered to this trend.
Another concept existing in our film industry is the trivialisation of murder, drugs and such. There are many movies set against the crime scene in the country. These plots are bold and gutsy. However, they make it seem that these activities are okay. The recent Tamil blockbuster Kolamaavu Kokila about the cocaine industry in South India. This movie is centred on a female character that gets into the business to save her dying mom. But, this movie employs dark humour, where death and distribution and consumption of cocaine has been completely trivialised. Usually, in most Indian movies, all the cops are shown as corrupt and as people who work for the bad guys than the government. The gangster movie Gangs of Wasseypur dealt with the mafia in Jharkhand. This movie was critically acclaimed and did quite well at the box office. But many movies centred on the police portray them to be the most ideal of cops. Singam, a bilingual movie that released in both Hindi and Tamil was about a police officer who was portrayed like a superhero.
Our industry is trying to mimic the western countries. This is good for most part of it, but the negatives are more often shown and adapted by the youngsters. The movies show premarital, most importantly underage and unprotected sex,along with underage drinking and substance abuse. By showing it on screen, these are normalised and etched into the minds of the youth.
Cinema is one the most effective modes of mass communication. A positive impact can be created by it. Problems present in the country due to ignorance, like the caste system, untouchability and dowry could be addressed in the movies. Positive messages like female literacy, family planning, economic security and hygiene must be spread. Movies like Padman and Toilet, EkPrem Katha are wonderfully doing this. Biopics on great personalities are educating people while giving them useful information. It is also about perception of the audience. The message that they must take away from the movie must be clearly outlined. It should be instilled that the wrong will be punished and more of everyday problems must be spoken about in movies. Promising results can be achieved in bringing about a change in the society through movies. The industry, especially the actors must recognise the huge role and fan fallowing that they have and put it to productive use instead of personal gain.
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