The Medium is the Message – Marshal McLuhan
24-year old Janaki who was working as a store clerk in D’mart, Hyderabad was found dead by her colleague in her room. Janaki was killed by a 25 year named Anand, who stalked her but was spurned.
Padmaavat or Padmavati finally saw the light of the day. After much protests, acrimonious debates and politics, film fraternity and liberals found joy (along with the producers, obviously) when the film eventually hit the theatres. Whether the film is a commercial success or not, it reemphasized the reality that reel life affects & effects real life in India.
Watching a movie is a challenge for me. Bollywood or Tollywood, I cannot stand any wood when it comes to movies. I watched a Telugu flick after a long time. It was a typical boy-get-girl rom-com masala movie. The plot is as old as the film. The hero (?) is a vagabond who falls for a pretty girl from a rich family. He trolls, stalks, teases and chases her. The comedy is slapstick, the situations are clichéd to the extent that you can predict the next turn of the plot (if there is one) 10 minutes before. There are stalking scenes, chasing scenes, teasing scenes and every act that deserves a jail time. But, this is Indian cinema. The girl spurns him but eventually falls in love with him and the boy eventually wins her.
What’s the message? It is ok to be a careless, useless and irresponsible man. You can pick the girl of your choice and decide that she is your life partner. What about the girl’s consent? It is a movie and we know how it will come end as. Nobody knows how the vagabond and a responsible girl will live their life afterwards. Look at the movie from the girl’s perspective and ask what she (and girls like her) is going through every day on the streets of India. The girl’s family may not be open minded to accept such a guy (which family will anyway) and might cause major problems for her in her life. Worse, in this film the hero’s family encourages the boy to win the girl no matter what!
Reel life is fun and fleeting whereas reality is different and is biting. It is hurting the girls and women of our society. More than corruption and terrorism, eve-teasing is a major social ill that the Indian society needs to overcome. If our heroes (?) perpetuate it and patronize it, what message does it send out to the young men in impressionable age? In India, especially south India, film heroes are larger than life and many imitate them in many ways. As is always the case, the bad is adapted faster than the good acts.
An Anand who no doubt found inspiration from the acts of the heroes cut a Janaki’s life short. I also find fault with the actresses who accept to work in such roles. In such movies, they are objectified and trolled which they gleefully accept for few lakhs of rupees putting lakhs of girls in discomforting situations. These very actresses come out strongly and display lot of courage to put online trolls in their place. Ladies you show more power in 300 characters on social media than in the characters that you play. Can you stand up against such character sketches in the movies that you act? No means no. Even if it is in a movie.
Censor board in India clearly has its priorities wrong. For them display of skin, profligacy, violence and religious sentiments are the only criteria to judge the ‘eligiblity’ of a movie to be shown to the public. The above movie I mentioned above gets a green on every one of the above criteria. But it falls flat on one criteria – moral turpitude. These so-called harmless boy-meets-trolls-gets-girl movies do more harm in a more quiet but definite way. They say a wrong repeated many times may end up sounding true. A reel life misadventure repeated (with great success), often portrayed by their idols is sure to harm the society.
Padmavati may or may not be a real person. But Janaki is a real person and there are many more Janaki’s out there. Allaudin Khilji might be one in a lifetime villain. Every successful boy-meets-trolls-gets-girl movie creates more Anand’s for sure. Viewers know that it is not possible for Padmavati –Khilji to repeat. Anand-Janaki tragedy will sadly repeat for sure.
We have A, UA, U ratings for our movies. Can we add SH (Socially Harmful) rating also?
It is our call what we want to ban. Padmavati or Janaki-killers.