Friday, August 24, 2012

Cinema, Serials and the concept of Goodness


At the very outset let me make it clear that if you are eagerly looking forward to a diatribe on how cinema and serials promote vulgarity and violence, I must reluctantly bid goodbye to you and wish you all the best in finding such pleasant pastures. My interests lie in a totally different area of influence and I talk of the influences on my growing years – so the movie concepts I refer to may be dated.
Let me first get rid of one of my other pet ideas before I get to the pith of my issue. The villain in any film has such loyal henchmen that even when they find their boss on the verge of ruin they are willing to put up their hands and be counted – by way of holding a gun to the hero’s screaming wife/girlfriend/mother and seeking the hero’s surrender. The hero, however, has sycophants who seem eagerly poised to turn on him given the slightest excuse – a trumped-up charge or a night with his girl-friend (in absolute chastity, believe me!) and the entire neighborhood pounces on him with almost unholy glee. Cinema, therefore, taught me that if you want loyalty from your companions, it does not pay to be good.
The villain hatches diabolic plots and chortles in glee as they succeed in their nefarious intent. The hero does his brainstorming with his friends, hatches an elaborate stratagem to breach the defense of the villain, disguises himself in a moustache (and wig, if the budget permits) and does an elaborate song and dance in the villain’s stronghold. After having enjoyed the hero’s (and heroine’s, in later days) performance, the villain casually unmasks the hero. After that, the hero has to rely upon his bludgeoning skills to get himself out of the mess. With great reluctance one has to admit that, even if the hero’s dai-kilo-ki-haath wins the battle in the end, the villain leaves the hero in the dust when it comes to the brains department.
This question of the good being lacking in brains is not restricted only to the hero. Take Baazigar – one of the movies that catapulted Shahrukh Khan to superstardom – for example. SRK’s father forgives and takes back the villain into his good graces after having once been deceived by him. Then, presto, he signs off on a General Power of Attorney in the villain’s favor and is reduced to penury. Amazing that a businessman can repose such absolute trust in a known villain merely because the businessman is a good man! (Psst! If you hear of the fingers of Mukesh Ambani or Ratan Tata itching to sign a General Power of Attorney please do let me know. I am willing to take my chances even if I lack the necessary qualification of having deceived them once before)
I do not know from where movie-makers got this idea that an IQ in three digits and goodness are mutually exclusive characteristics. Maybe they have always been unable to distinguish between goodness and naiveté.  To be fair, however, to Baazigar one needs saying that the villain shows a similar lack of brains in signing a general power of attorney in the hero’s favor later. Or maybe a long non-villainous life had stultified his brains!
If you are evil, you cheat. If you are good, you get cheated. That, in sum, is the world-view of our movies. I am glad to see that this tradition continues in the serials of today. (Well! Not exactly glad but it is nice to see something familiar somewhere, if you know what I mean). The amazing manner in which the good fall all over themselves and enthusiastically fall into the traps of the evil is a sight for sore eyes. I have never yet seen a good person in a serial who I have not wanted to strangle on sight for sheer stupidity. (Oh! By the way, I do not watch serials normally. It is just that when guests come around, serials sort of thrust themselves into my ken)
Is it then surprising that when a person finds that his IQ is in excess of 100 he gives up all hope of becoming a good person? Can you really blame even those with IQs less than 100 striving to hide that fact by acting bad? After all, how can you blame anybody for preferring to be feared for being bad rather than to be held in contempt for being foolish?

24 comments:

  1. Always wondered the same things about our cinema.
    Cinemas have an obviousness unique to their plots and lives of their characters, divested of the obviousness in real life. Like the example of a filthy rich businessman lacking the basic acumen to not sign a general power of attorney that too in fav. of a man who has a history of having been thrown to jail by him. I wonder how is it that such characters, lacking in basic intelligence, be depicted to have made it so big in their lives, in the first place. I mean it's against what's obvious in real life.

    In serials, however the situation is far more unbelievable. The male lead (s) more often than not are sons of business tycoons or tycoons themselves, but rarely attend to their work / office or maintain an obvious work schedule required to achieve / maintain such heights.

    They keep loitering around their respective wives and mothers, eager to jump to the fore at the slightest sign of any dispute whatsoever, wearing all kind of business suiting and shirting though.

    By the way, just read Jayashree's blog post regarding her Leibster Award wherein she has complimented your splendid skills at writing similar posts. I stand with her on that.

    Superb Post Suresh ji.

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    1. Thanks Anupam!! You have always been a staunch supporter of my blog and, of course, it was you who gave me the Liebster in the first place!!

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  2. You post had me smiling. Cinema promotes stereotypes and stereotypes are just that! Ridiculous!

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    1. Thanks Abhyudaya and welcome to my blog!

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  3. Good cinematic sense of humour.Nice post.

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  4. Well, C.S - You forget an important fact. Let me quote what yourself told me - that majority of your audience must be able to relate to your story. Most people come under the average IQ category. So they probably relate to the idea of good person using brawn and luck beating the bad guy with brains.

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    1. Mmm! Maybe TF but it still beats me why the good people should be such easy prey for cheats :)

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  5. Hi Suresh

    Somehow in cinemas and serials the people are so sweet that it almost makes me diabetic!
    Dont know about the male folks but the female protagonists of the serials are the ideally righteous ones who simply cannot sit without poking their noses in everyones affairs...
    As for the IQ, the villains definitely do a much more commendable jobs than the heros and they speak with a more acceptable tone rather than giving lengthy punch dialogues!! Very well written Suresh.Enjoyed the read :)

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    1. Sweet, Jaish? If one of those 'good' people were living in my house, I'd probably be the subject matter of blog posts related to Capital Punishment :)

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  6. hahaha, awesome post Suresh!! it really amazes me how you come up with such brilliant posts in few hours.

    it's a proven fact that villains have higher IQ. the tech savvy villains of yesteryear (Shakaal, Mogambo et al) outclassed the heroes who relied on a primitive technology (or should i say stone age technology) of wrapping a letter around the stone and throwing it inside heroine's house.

    don't tell me you watch serials :D

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    1. Hmm! Debajyoti! Shakaal, Mogambo et al were probably fashioned after Ernst Stavro Blofeld, whose extraordinary intelligence and organising capabilities were pitted against James Bond, whose talent lay in women-chasing and one-liners :)

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  7. Hahhah! classic! We know our movies all too well, don't we?!
    Plus, the other lesson is - It's cool to be poor! Especially, if you have nothing to eat. Just have a sip of water, and sing an elaborate family ditty to sleep!

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    1. Haan yes! Pet bar ke khane se behtar pyar baraa ek ghoont paani or some such ditty :):)

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  8. hahaha...yr post had me smiling thruout...

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  9. full marks to your analysis-who can disagree with you?Very entertaining post.

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  10. What can we say.. Bollywood Zindabad? LOL. Anyway I am glad we do not have those all sacrificing, silk sari clad, decked in flowers heroines anymore....

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    1. Ah! Instead, we have the vamps in serials :):)

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  11. "After all, how can you blame anybody for preferring to be feared for being bad rather than to be held in contempt for being foolish?" ... Absolutely brilliant stuff...Thought provoking and Funny...Few examples for the reference : Mogambo (IQ>100) , Kancha Cheena (IQ<100 but very powerful)....

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  12. The best stereo type in hindi film is, if you drink, you are a villain.
    And if you are a hero, you are not suppose to drink :)

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    1. That stereotype has ceased to exist now :)

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