Friday, February 8, 2013

The Art of Intolerance Against Films.


        All art forms are characterized by an inner voice of freedom and individuality. Film as an art form has existed for long representing the attitudes and aspirations of individual and group activities. It has delved either partially or comprehensively into human and social issues from an artistic point of view, thereby creating awareness and response to those issues. At times, films themselves have suggested solutions, depending upon the bolder perceptions of creativity. The intention of a film maker will definitely be only to raise prevailing issues, fit for a healthy debate and not to get into a row with any particular section on account of raising these issues. Unfortunately, human society is in the grip of intolerance now. It could be fairly said that intolerance has surpassed its level as an emotion and has been cultivated and groomed as a counter form of art to resist, stymie and gag the voice of the original art form. Be it a piece of painting,or a book, or a film, the creator’s individual freedom of expression is being stifled by the art of intolerance, handled deftly by a group of vested interests, declaring themselves as the care takers of race, religion, community and language.
      Banning the independent voice of the art form either for a period or for long, and burdening the judiciary with cases relating to objections to creative formulations and the resultant ban, when there are so many other vital cases to be dealt with by the esteemed judges, could be viewed only as the expansion of the monstrous wings of the art of intolerance. If justice delayed were to be interpreted as justice denied, delaying  a movie watch for an unexpected period, to a particular section of passionate viewers of films, could also be called denial of right and freedom in the name of intolerance. It is again a sad thing that such things happen more frequently in India, the traditional, Gandhian land of tolerance.
      Decades ago there were revolts in Tamil Nadu, against the imposition of Hindi as official language. The rationale behind the movement of resistance was understood and the response from the side of that particular generation was genuine. But it went beyond that, as an act of intolerance against the screening of Hindi Films in Tamil Nadu. The art of intolerance superseded the priorities of film as an art form. Those were days when most of the theatres in the major district headquarters in Tamil Nadu used to screen all popular Hindi movies.Those movies and the theatres that showed them  suffered a setback then. Now, other language films are  rarely screened in major cities of Tamil Nadu, except in its State Capital Chennai.
    Years back, in the early Nineteen Sixties ,I remember to have seen Sivaji Ganesan’s Dheivapiravi directed by the famous duo Krishnan Panju, in a local theatre in Thrissur,Kerala. In the Nineteen Ninetees,during one of my visits to the temple town of Guruvayur in Kerala,I chanced to see there, A.V.M’s ‘Ulagam Pirandhathu Enakkaaga’ another Tamil movie, starring Sathyaraj and Gauthami. Even now newspapers stated that Kamal’s Viswaroopam was screened in nearly eighty theatres in Kerala. Malayalees who are said to have deeper affinity to their mother tongue when it comes to socializing, have also exhibited a free mind and patronizing attitude, with regard to movies of other languages.No doubt, Tamil films are patronized with equal supporting spirit in other Southern States like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It should also be mentioned here that even in the Western countries like England and the United States of America,popular films in Indian languages are screened in prominent cities.A film like 'Viswaroopam' that contained observations about America's craving for oil resources and the collateral damages caused by the US army and scenes showing the portraits of former US President George.W. Bush being attacked and damaged, were all allowed to be viewed in the US cinema houses, as mere film events.
    The art of intolerance attaches avoidable blinkers to a budding generation by restricting its rights and opportunities. When I write this, I do not mean that children should be allowed to watch objectionable visuals that form part of a movie watch.What I would like to stress here, is that every one should have access to a medium that provides a variety of perceptions to several issues like community hatreds and rivalries,communalism,religious intolerance, terrorism,vulnerability of women to physical and emotional harassment,and the larger- than- life, levels of corruption. Similarly, every one should have access to the grace and nuances of other languages.Binding a generation to one particular language in the name of mother tongue would prove to be a clear negative move to paralyze the posterity.
    Now a days, we see most of the Television channels in India, telecasting  English movies and those in other languages dubbed into their respective mother tongues.The reason for this dubbing process could be understood at least in the case of national languages, because, most of the South Indian languages are inter related to one another.But to dub English movies, at times, with dialogues reaching ridiculous proportions,only adds to misconceptions and misunderstanding of the very purpose for which the films were made.I remember that in a municipal town in Tamil Nadu, where I was born and raised, there were two theatres one regularly showing only English Movies and the other constantly taking care of the interests of Hindi Film viewers.The films were all received well and admired with a feel of enjoyment.It was an experience that placed pleasure as more prominent than understanding. Now my native town has become a corporation, but the two theatres are screening only old Tamil movies, with escalating fears of closure.
    The final decades of the last millennium, were days of global film experience and enjoyment. Today there is globalization only in technology but the global spirit has vanished thanks to the perpetuation of the art of intolerance.Politicized movements of intolerance carry the risk of getting boomeranged. Saner attitudes of leadership not only save all art forms including films, but also protect  human civilization, against the gloomy consequences of the promotion of the art intolerance.

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