Does Cinema Promote Crime?

By Kiran Kirti Rath-

“Har dukh aane waale sukh ki chitti hoti hai ... aur har nuksaan hone waale fayde ka ishara”

- Madhuri Dixit in the brimmingly popular movie, Devdas (2002)

INTRODUCTION

Whenever something unexpected happens to any of our friends, at least once, we have used this dialogue in order to console them because we have developed an understanding that whatever/however problematic the situation might be, it will eventually fade away thereby bringing joy and happiness. This creates a mindset that all will be well at the end, which can be attributed to the role played by the Bollywood movies in shaping, reshaping and manipulating our perspective. That, in fact, is indeed weirdly comforting as it gives us solace, until it doesn’t after an extent. An understanding develops through the things individuals see, observe, witness and experience; Indian cinema plays that part which happens to put things in order at the end.

Human beings are so very conditioned to believe that all is well that ends well, and manipulates us to believe that everything will fall in place right at the end and the same is depicted in almost all Bollywood movies. However strenuous and vexatious the journey might be for the positive characters, but always it ends with a HAPPY ENDING, thereby manipulating the thought process and making individuals believe that everything will fall into place at the end. Similarly, there are various aspects in the lives of individuals where they tend to believe that they can replicate the scenes in the movies thereby trying to emulate the characters depicted in the movies. This is because of the fact that we as individuals tend to associate ourselves with the characters of the movies. Movies happen to be the most influential tool of communication and society happens to learn a lot of things from films.

Films, therefore, hold a truly unique place in the story of our civilisation. It is an art, a language, a medium for education, inspiration, and so much more. It provides employment for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and enjoyment for countless billions more and provides a living record of the human condition and imagination at any given point in our story.[1]

MOVIES - AN IRREPLACEABLE ELEMENT FROM OUR LIVES

In a 1963 report for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization taking a gander at Indian Cinema and Culture, the writer (Baldoon Dhingra) cited a discourse by Prime Minister Nehru who expressed, “…the influence in India of films is greater than newspapers and books combined.” Even at this beginning phase, the Indian film market provided food for more than 25 million individuals, seven days viewed as a ‘fringe’ of the population.

The contemporary examination has additionally uncovered more significant viewpoints to film's effect on society. In a 2005 paper by S C Noah Uhrig (University of Essex, UK) named, "'Cinema is Good for You: The Effects of Cinema Attendance on Self-Reported Anxiety or Depression and 'Happiness'" the author portrays how "The storyline and representational parts of the film make it a completely novel type of art. Besides, the collective insight of film as art renders it entirely, specifically for recreative purposes. The remarkable properties of going to the film can have conclusively beneficial outcomes on emotional well-being. Cinema attendance can have unfettered and strapping aftereffects for mental well-being on the grounds that visual stimulation can line the scope of feelings and the collective experience of these feelings through the film gives a protected climate wherein to encounter roles and feelings we usually would not, in any case, be allowed to open yourself to.

The collective nature of the narrative and visual stimulation makes the experience agreeable and controlled, in this manner offering benefits past plain, simplistic visual triggers. Also, the cinema is remarkable in that it is an exceptionally available social art form, wherein the participation in which generally cuts across economic lines. Simultaneously, going to the film takes into consideration the activity of individual inclinations and the human need for distinction. More or less, cinema attendance can be both a personally expressive experience, good fun, and therapeutic at the same time. It has been the best conversation starter, since time immemorial.

Each nation has stories to tell, about their past, their way of life now, and perspectives on what the future will resemble through their eyes and films are responsible for it. On considering Indian films, the filmmakers have promoted westernization, the emancipation of women, caste-related problems, the rights of the minorities and most importantly the relationships between Hindus and Muslims[2] I, on a personal note, believe that cinema permits individuals to be taken to spots they can't get to all alone be it travel, or culture, or learning.


WHO IS TO BLAME; CINEMATIC STORYLINE?

OR HUMAN PERCEPTION?

I don’t think it’s ever the intention to promote crime, if you think about it Cinema is just a reflection of what happens in the society. Having said that, yes, I do think films are capable of instigating violence or lead to creative techniques in committing a crime. The problem with this is that cinema plays a very influential role in our lives; it has some impact on our thinking and behaviour. In the movie Drishyam, the protagonist, who is not very educated, uses his film knowledge to evade the police pursuit. Some criminals have openly admitted that they were inspired by certain films while planning a robbery or such.

There’s no denying that cinema romanticizes crimes like stalking and murder making the audience believe that it’s acceptable because the protagonist does it even if that’s not their motive. Art can’t be interpreted in one way, what Kabir Singh does in the movie might seem romantic to some while others know it’s morally wrong. While some interpret as this is something that you should not do, some take it as “if the hero does it, why can’t I?” failing to differentiate fiction from reality. Films draw a thin line between romance and crimes, making you responsible for what you choose to do; that if you are within the line, it’s beautiful, romantic and “acceptable” but if you cross the line, it’s stalking! And to be honest, that line should not even exist, obsessively chasing after someone is in no shape or form romantic, it’s just creepy and unacceptable.

However, if we look at this from a broader perspective, films contribute more against crime than towards it. For example, there is a Telugu movie called ‘Mathu Vadalara’. There is a scene in the movie where a character explains how to trick old women into paying them more while delivering parcels. Some may say, it will inspire the delivery boys to cheat. But, the number of general audiences that watch this film is more than the number of delivery boys that watch this film. It spreads awareness of the possible ways they can be tricked, making them less prone to planned theft.

Let’s see it this way. There were two sons of a drunkard. One of them grew up to be a drunkard while the other never touched alcohol. When asked, one said “My father used to drink, that’s how I got used to it too.” while the other said, “I grew up watching my father’s actions when he was drunk. So, I told myself I will never be like him.” Here, both the brothers were exposed to the same things. But they had different mentalities. If the kid who started drinking had not picked it from his father, he could have picked it from his friends. Similarly, a film alone can’t be blamed for instigating violence, though they can have their contribution on an individual scale. But it only makes the job of police easier to track down the criminal because the crime is already known. In fact, a criminal could be scared to commit a crime because people already know how it is done. Therefore, on a bigger picture, the film industry does better than harm, even with their crime films. However, it is better to make sure innocent children are not exposed to such stuff who don’t have enough maturity to understand the consequences of their actions.

The blame game will continue to exist between Cinema and society, where each will blame the mishaps on one another but it’s more of a responsibility of both, Cinema needs to stop glorifying crimes and society shouldn’t justify crimes by pinning the blame on Cinema. While it is important to reflect our society through movies and series, there is no need for glamorizing heinous acts and I believe the harsh consequences of wrong actions should be there on the screen.

Considering the deep impact and impression Cinema creates in the minds of young generation, the need of the hour is to implement a proper policy to safeguard the same and ensure the kind of movies screened do not have any content that can have a far-reaching negative impact on the nascent minds.


References: [1] VIKAS SHAH MBE, The Role of Film in Society, ThoughtEconomics, 9TH JUNE 2011, The Role of Film in Society - Thought Economics [2] Balabantaray SR. Impact of Indian cinema on culture and creation of world view among youth: A sociological analysis of Bollywood movies. J Public Affairs.


Author- Kiran Kirti Rath

BBA LLB(H), Semester III

Xavier's Law School, XIM University, Bhubneshwar

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