Breaking Taboos : Indian cinema
Cinema takes its viewers on a journey to another world. This world consists of characters that can sometimes feel too fictional or too real. Seeing the lives and experiences of others can make people question the world in which they live. This experience pushes certain ideas and thoughts most subtly. Thus, cinema can leave a deep aftertaste. Certain movies such as Pink linger on your mind for a long time as they challenge some notions forced on us by society. The way we are normalized to the patriarchy of our society is something that needs to be questioned. Cinema holds a mirror to our society and asks us to confront issues that we have been avoiding.
Indian cinema has become more progressive in recent times. Indian movies have a vast audience. It is an important medium of communication. People from all walks of society love watching movies. Movies can help in shaping people’s opinions about certain issues. From the beginning, Indian cinema has been trying to raise awareness against social issues such as untouchability, caste system, honor killing, and problems faced by widows. Some popular movies in this regard are Mother India, Do Bigha Zameen, etc. Films such as ‘My brother Nikhil’ and ‘Phir Milenge’ tried to raise awareness about AIDS. ‘Taare Zameen par, 3 idiots addressed the problems faced by children and teens of our country.
However, such socially driven films aren’t always popular with the audience. Some of them even underperform at the box office. Overdramatic ‘masala movies’ often overshadow them. Swades released in 2004 tells the story of an NRI returning to India to serve his nation. This movie not only explores the themes of patriotism but also shows problems faced by people in rural India. Swades was not commercially successful. But in recent times, we can see people returning to such movies with social themes. Gone are the days when the Indian audience was satisfied with item songs and physics-defying scenes in the movies. Nowadays, Indian audiences expect more than just entertainment from cinema. They want relatable content. Many popular actors have jumped on this bandwagon and try to appear in movies with social context. This helps in increasing the outreach of social issues.
A shift in the taste of Indian audiences can be seen presently. People have begun to appreciate the artistic candor offered by some films. Indie films such as ‘Village rockstars’ follow the story of a girl in Assam who dreams of starting her band. Her endeavors are interrupted by Assam floods, a common phenomenon that doesn't receive much media coverage. The movie won the National Award for Best Feature Film. It presented the daily struggles of people in rural India and provided an innocent perspective to disasters in India. Other movies like “Black Friday” deal with the topics of terrorism. It showed the perspective of a common man towards terrorists. Many critics consider this movie a masterpiece. The message it communicates leaves a significant impact on the audience.
People with disabilities have also found representation in Indian cinema. ‘Iqbal’ told the story of a mute and deaf boy from a small Indian village who chases his dream of becoming a cricketer. Such movies give a voice to people with disabilities. They also inspire people to overcome obstacles with their grit and determination. Movies on unconventional topics such as “Badhai ho” has also gained popularity in recent times. This movie showed an unplanned pregnancy of an old couple in India. The movie beautifully weaves the stereotypes faced by its characters in a comic tale.
As Walt Disney said, “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood” . Hopefully, Indian cinema continues to produce movies of such kind.