Friday, January 13, 2012

An evening spent with the media as their guest editor


Jalsa , Mumbai                  Jan  11 ,  2012            Wed  11 : 34 PM

Nandita undergoes surgery .. !! And is well .. we all pray for her speedy recovery …
 An evening spent with the media as their guest editor. It is a Marathi newspaper, Loksatta. A most invigorating conversation. More on what my opinions are about the state and the films and the morals and social impressions of a country, than what should be appearing on the front pages, or the edit column.
Much of the talking was done by me, which was unusual. Editors normally listen to what the team has to say and then give instructions to execute them. Or am I completely off the track ? All the same the meeting was fascinating. Most of what newspapers do is I would like to believe, not an unknown secret. With the rapid growth of communication through science and technology, we are at a stage where all information has been banked as though the world were coming to an end the very next day ! It is a fortunate development that there are such institutions which do record for posterity. Many do not believe in this concept. A recent article I read of a prominent star, expressed so in just so many words. He was not interested in posterity, or a legacy that he wished to leave behind. I thought that was revolutionary and most individual. When the rest of the world is attempting its best to be able to record all that it can for the years and ages to come, there are some that care little about it. As time and circumstance pass by with rapid speed, we are becoming more conscious of what can be retained in as pristine a condition as possible. Capsuling time was some of the worthy achievements that the system of the culture of the past had practiced. With advanced methodology we are now in a state to do all this in a more scientific manner and also do it personally too. Generations after us shall quite obviously, be greatly more informed and in greater authenticity, than what some of us at this time may be struggling to acquire. Perhaps the entire concept of questioning may become redundant. Questions are asked when there is a paucity of answers, but when answers are all available at the press of a button, I wonder whether we would need those that gave us information, advice, knowledge by the fireside at night after dinner, at all.

Does society change cinema, or cinema change society ? I really have no answer for it. I answered to the team of Loksatta, that I was least interested in finding out this answer. What I was most interested in was getting a job. And if that job during the course of its execution was reflecting societal changes, please do not misjudge it as a deliberate attempt from me as an artist, responsible for it. This is not to entirely reject the concept of social change through a medium as powerful and strong as the moving pictures, for there are many of the fraternity that shall get involved in productions solely on the basis of expressing a particular thought. God bless them and their efforts, but I am lame in this regard. For us the instinct of survival has been given greater importance than what the world thinks. It is undoubtedly a somewhat selfish thought, but what else can one argue in defense of it when we know and are burdened with the thought that, the worker or the common man that earns a meager living for the entire day shall not want to be entertained by social and institutionalized philosophy, when he seeks escapist departure. Most executers of the cinema of escapism would love to hide behind this time worn theory and argument, for, it still spells correct. Not so for the exclusive few who remain true in spirit and thought about what cinema needs to do in the realm of morality, effectiveness and its reality in its members.

If the system has failed and there is anger against all that governs us, then for an anger to erupt in the shape of a character which symbolizes all that needs to be paid attention to, becomes heroic and valid. Much of that today would perhaps not be so acceptable because the opportunities and the availability of diverse vocations fills the air with hope and chance to be in better circumstance – an exalted state, which all wish and want to adopt. Consider that to be the economic changes that now press the culture of the country, or any other, we shall pander, to use a somewhat harsh term, to what the viewer wants and desires. If it is fun related meaningless pictorially fascinating visuals, sprinkled with the odd music extravaganza of passion and excitement, then so be it. Then the need to make subjects that hopefully shall awaken the conscience of the nation, would be put on a back burner. Purists would disagree, but when did they not.

Is our culture taking example from the West. Is it polluting our centuries old norms, perhaps yes and perhaps not. It would have to be an individual thought. You cannot take the advantage of the Western worlds technological progress, apply it to ours, reel in its benefits and then scream that we are adopting the ills of a developed world. If we were late in evolving and matching the industrial revolution of the west, lets us not put blame. Yes we were subjugated, repressed, conquered made slaves of and perhaps deliberately kept away from all modern forms of progress, but in the time since we have had our Independence, we can proudly say that the level of achievement has been more than rapid and satisfactory. What was looked down upon is now being strained to look up to. What was ridiculous in content is now glorified and rewarded. When all else in their world is breaking down our world is showing remarkable resilience. We must be doing something right then. Not all of it can be acknowledged as correct, or even near perfect, but it does have the capacity to be taken note of. The courage and the will to have done so needs to be applauded ..

Does the process of thought and language and its poetic ramifications compare well with what is being dished out now. Perhaps not. In fact certainly not. The aesthetics of the old still haunts us greatly. But so does that brashness of this generation among its own. Are they wrong and we right ? I would never hazard a guess !! When we emerged that is what the generation before us thought about us, and soon the generation after the present shall think about them thus too. The circle or the cycle of life shall dictate its terms to us. Accept or be another ordinary. Ordinary never in a diminished sense, but ordinary compared to what the present may seem to many …

How have you remained with the present for so long, they ask me. I have not. I am still on the treadmill, but I do on occasion look around and about me. The treadmill is my necessity, looking around does give me perspective of what I was and have become. Not with any malice or bad intent, but one that is willing to acknowledge the two, in equal terms ..
Is being equal to all a sin … can the Ef really contradict the sense of oneness that we maintain on this platform ? I would think not …
Love and more …
Amitabh Bachchan 

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