Author: Karan Bhowmick
“Jabh Tak Hindustan me Cinema hai, log c#*&^%! bante rahenge.”
(As long as India has a rampant interest in Cinema, the people of India will be misled by it)
At first glance, this quote seemed to me like a half-assed attempt at the criticism of the Indian mindset lathered with sharp dissent. But when I submitted myself to idle introspection, I realized the depth of its critique. Before we dive into the philosophical ramblings and cynicism of societal constructs that my conscience embodies, I want you to take a good hard look on the life you have led thus far. No sugarcoating. Warts and all.
The quote used is from one of my favorite movies, Gangs of Wasseypur, where the antagonist gives a monologue on how he’s survived the generations of gang wars and bloodshed. He explains that all the youngsters watch movies in movie halls and idolize the hero of the film. This incessant worship of a fictional character lays the foundation for deep-rooted constructs in their mind. They fetishize the ‘ends justify the means’ trope and act solely on their brand of justice. He extrapolates that because he didn’t watch movies as much, he wasn’t shackled by heroic ideals. He schemed out of his interests and his interests alone. There wasn’t a predefined notion as to what he’s supposed to do. The antagonist then concludes with the previously mentioned quote.
“Cinema is a direct ramification of the loss of a sense of purpose” ~ Karan Bhowmick.
Yes, I quote myself a lot. I will buttress my argument with another quote, “Life is but a series of addictions strung together in a haphazard frenzy” ~ Karan Bhowmick. To put it bluntly, I am talking about humans and their obsession with escapism. Is this our supposed salvation? We’re all hooked on different drugs, from socially accepted ones like Religion (the drug of hope) to stigmatized ones like cocaine or sex. We do it for a hit of dopamine. This escapism fuels our need for purpose. Now that I have established a budding environment for my thoughts to frolic around, let’s get right to it.
For instance, Gangs of Wasseypur depicts the cycle of violence inherited through vengeance. Vengeance acts as the ‘purpose’ driving the protagonist to new heights. In real life, revenge is neither achievable (in a legal sense) nor pragmatic. If your loved ones are killed right in front of you, would you go out and hunt the killer down? How would you know where the killer is? Will you become a vigilante serving your city from the shadows, under the guise of a bat? (The plot of Batman)
Let us talk about the portrayal of life in movies and TV shows. I’m going to take the example of one of the most popular sitcoms, FRIENDS. ‘Friends’ sells us a story of six best friends trying to achieve their dreams in the bustling and ruthless landscape of New York. Not only do they achieve their ambitions, but they also continue to maintain their friendship for ten years (Not saying it’s an unachievable concept). The TV Show casts a blind eye towards the omnipresence of change in life.
Before all you ‘Friends’ fanatics burn me at a pyre, let me explain, it is NOT wrong for a sitcom to stray from reality, it is refreshing in fact. It is the fact that we subconsciously start believing this is what awaits us in life (Spoiler Alert: It’s not) that plagues society. When we look at TV Shows like Friends, it presents us with a slice of an “idealized life”. There is no major disaster, an inchoate representation of achievement (it does not provide lifelong solace), no repercussions of questionable relationship dynamics (Wtf was Ross and Rachel’s relationship), and an unreal representation of love (it isn’t a panacea to all your problems in life). ‘Friends’ is guilty of all of these, or is it? Isn’t television supposed to be ‘easy to digest tidbits’ meant for unwinding after a long day? It is supposed to be a surreal representation of life to break you out of the monotony of your life.
Let us scrutinize the life of the generic protagonist in a Romcom/Drama. He has a grim demeanor to compensate for his tumultuous strive, and his career is in ruins right up to the point where he meets his girlfriend. Suddenly it’s all butterflies and daisies, the blank canvas of his life has been painted over in a myriad of magnificence.
Now in my experience of 20 years, Life has been analogous to ‘Being a colorblind painter trying to capture the essence of a vibrant landscape’. An awkward, pretentious mess under the constant dichotomy of your intuitions against deep-rooted ideals.
In conclusion, I like using quotes and you should watch Gangs of Wasseypur. (If you’re not used to this by now, you’re just gonna have to deal with it)
” Every f***er’s got his movie playing inside his head. Every f***er is trying to become the hero of his imaginary film.” ~ Ramadhir Singh, Gangs of Wasseypur.