Monday, December 3, 2007

Indian Movies, Rajnikanth and Real Life

That movies tend to influence real life is something proven beyond doubt. While the impact of movies on life in the rest of the world is something debatable, the influence movies have had on life in India is unquestionable. 30 years after the blockbuster Sholay was released, the dialogues spoken by Gabbar Singh, the villain in the film are still received with applause, when a mimic show is held. The songs of the sixties are still on the lips of the Indians. Remix albums are a tribute to songs which have defied mortality.

Among the many states of India, Tamilnadu stands out as a region that has been most heavily influenced by movies. Every Autorikshaw driver in the city of Chennai thinks that he is Rajnikanth , the reigning Tamil movie Megastar with his adolescent mannerisms and very peculiar bite-and-spit-out way of pronouncing Tamil words. While sociologists might conclude that Rajnikanth's role as an Autorikshaw driver has given the hitherto-lowly drivers some self-respect and professional pride, the passengers have a different tale to tell, which will not be very flattering to these Auto-men. Courtesy has been replaced by rudeness. It is not Rajnikanth who should be blamed. The entire film industry including script-writers who have created roles which glorify bad behaviour, uncultured words and disrespect to fellow-citizens is responsible for this degeneration. Autorikshaw drivers are not the only group which has taken to film-characterlike behaviour . Students of colleges and Universities are very prominent imitators of the negative heroes. Every other movie presents the hero as a lovable eve-teaser.
The movies of an earlier age ( up to sixties) had heroes who were epitomes of good behaviour. After the decade of seventies saw heroes who were essentially angry young men out to destroy the establishment and uproot old values, movies were never the same. What they did was to kick out the well-behaved heroes out of the frame and make the earlier villains the new heroes, with every uncouth behaviour given licence for exhibition. Tamil movies are not the sole propagators of this change. Hindi movies popularly called 'Bollywood' are no better. But the difference is that the Tamil people seem to take movies far more seriously. They do not think that once they come out of the cinema hall, the movie just watched should cease occupying their mind space. Tamil stars are larger than life. Several of them have a chance to ascend the political ladder. I wonder whether any sociologist can conclude that such a development augurs well for the society.

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