Friday, October 10, 2008

Terrorism and Bollywood today

Mumbai film industry is no more the follower of Western cinema. Today our film makers are also making trend setting films, films with contemporary concerns and above all with all qualities of a good cinema. Today you can see a good and meaningful movie with eye catching sequences and heart throbbing scenes. In short, today meaningful cinema ( which was called art cinema earlier and only bound to see for a viewer of great patience) is changing it's face. Terrorism is the core issue of bollywood today. Mr. Nachiketa Narayan, Bureau chief of PTI, Allahabad is a addict of good cinema and has written an article on the issue.......

We are grateful to Nishikant Kamath and Neeraj Pandey for giving us "Mumbai Meri Jaan" and "A Wednesday" respectively, two gems churned out by Bollywood this year. The two movies may not have sent the cash registers ringing, though these are very powerful representations of an angst-ridden society, struggling to find its feet after being shattered by terrorist attacks, a milieu all of us today will relate to. It must be appreciated that an otherwise divorced-from-reality film industry has come forward to address our concern at a time when our so-called leaders are angaged in a callous game of one-upmanship. We have had films based on the theme of terrorism earlier also, most of the jingoistic and some of them displaying sensitivity which tended to lean towards sentimentalism. However, these two movies, which hit the screens within a month of each other, have been simple yet profound in their depiction of the menace. Let us take "Mumbai Meri Jaan" first. Its title is a misnomer. The movie may have the country's commercial capital as its backdrop, but make no mistake, it is not a mere tribute to the never-say-die spirit of the city. It captures an important fact - terrorism is not just about loss of lives. It is also about the life-long fear that the people who have not been victims but only witnesses, become condemned to lie with. And for every single teror vicim, there at least a score of witnesses The part played by Madhavan is a beautiful example. Don't we become suspicious, even alarmed, whenever somebody abandons his scooter or motorcycle on the road. We almost inevitably take the guy to be a terrorist though the poor chap may have gone out looking for a mechanic to fix his vehicle. Or take Irrfan's case. The guy succeeds in bringing big businesses to a grinding halt by making hoax calls. He is working on the agenda of avenging his insult at a swanky mall. And undoubtedly, hoax callers in real life must be having their own agenda for the inconveniencing pranks they play. But in both reel and real life, it is the fear psychosis that forces socieities to lose sleep over even bad jokes played by perverse minds. And it is this fear psychosis that has been so effectively captured in "A Wednesday" It is a warning signal to the powers that be who appear to be playing hide and seek with the public and snake and ladder amonst themselves. Naseeruddin Shah's outburst where he says "koi m......c...d yeh faisla nahin karega ki mujhe kaise marna hai" brings out the cry of a people driven against the wall. The dialogue where he says that a terrorist is not more intelligent than a clerk reflects the outrage of law-abiding citizens of the country whose goodness seems to have been taken for granted. It also rightly puts forward an important truth - in the age of information explosion, making a bomb has become ridiculously easy. Only good sense has prevented the majority of people from going astray. Both the movies also have very important messages for the most powerful communication medium of our TV channels. In "Mumbai Meri Jaan", the depraved competititve streak that gets manifested in Soha Ali Khan, grieving over the death of her boyfriend, being asked by her boss to enact her trauma on camera is spine-chilling. The moronic approach of the TV reporter in "A Wednesday", who gets shocked upon being addressed to as beta "daughter" by Naseeruddin Shah, whom she had taken to be a heartless militant shows the way our journalists are being groomed. Hope our friends in the media industry are taking note of that. The year 2008 also had two other mentionable releases based on the same topic - "Khuda Kay Liye" and "Black and White" Though the former appears above average only when we take into account the brilliant cameo by Naseeruddin Shah and that its makers hail from repressive Pakistan and the latter is more about Anil Kapoor's histrionics than a good screenplay. We wish all the best to Kamath and Pandey and hope more filmmakers will follow their example and raise contemporary cinema to a new level.