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?