Some days back, I watched the just-released Shahrukh Khan starrer- Raees (although I am not much of a fan of movies nor Shahrukh Khan). The movie was OK, not something that can be remembered 1 day after watching it, although I never got bored in between (basically a onetime watch).
But that’s not what I am going to talk about, critically analyzing the movie and rating it, but it’s about the way the movie (or cinema in general as a part of media) can manipulate reality and affect us.
A little bit of spoiler ahead:
So, basically Mr Khan leads the role of Raees Alam, who is a bootlegger in Gujarat (where liquor is prohibited therefore it’s an illegal act), gradually he rises from a small time criminal to an unquestioned one in the Fatehpura town.
Now, in the entire movie he has been portrayed as someone who is a Messiah to the local people, so wins an election (only possible in India where emotions rule elections, not character and credibility) & on the other hand, he kills, he assaults , (even a policeman who himself is corrupt),runs an illegal liquor business and even aids unknowingly (I do not know how Raees was unaware of it) in the bomblast in Mumbai during the 1993 riots – the year in which I was born). So, this becomes the background of the movie which is loosely based on the life of a real – life gangster Mr Abdul Lateef- once the numero uno gangster of Gujarat encountered in 1997.
Although the makers say the movie does not resemble the life of any real life person, it can’t be the excuse to showcase someone dreaded as someone who needs to be idolized. For some information and facts, Mr Abdul Lateef (the real life gangster) had more than 200 cases against him of murder, bootlegging, kidnapping, extortion, rioting. The Radhika gymkhana killings, the 1993 Mumbai blasts, the close connection with Mr Dawood Ibrahim (another dreaded gangster) are some of his famous works. This is the resume of the late gangster which the makers did not find serious to showcase as Profit making tops their list of do’s and nothing comes in their list of don’t s. Anyone can find obvious similarities between Raees Alam (movie) and Abdul Lateef (real life). It’s like someone making a movie about a character having glaring similarities with Hitler, portraying him as a Messiah, then adding a disclaimer that the person does not resemble any real life character. Quite stupid for me. That’s where the role of media comes in a world of post truth and that’s where some are leading in a wrong way.
Post truth: when objective facts are less influential in shaping the public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. (By the way it was honored as the word of the year – 2016 by oxford dictionary)
Now I am not painting the whole digital, print media by the same brush but only focusing on those who are spreading lies or half-truth.
Some questions need to be asked? Why did the movie distort facts? The answer is quite simple- for profit. A tried and tested formula where you pick a personality who is either very hated or very liked , book an A listed star, add some of you imagination (masala) and there you go- a blockbuster movie. All is well until everything is true and correct!
The makers profit, the audience enjoy their 2-3 hours (Hindi movies are quite long), the multiplexes, the malls profit and who loses? – The society!!!
The movie-goers see Mr Abdul Lateef as a great person, especially the youth who begin to idolize him not knowing that he was a criminal, remember Shootout at Lokhandwala where the gangster Manya Surve (another gangster, don’t know why Indian movie-makers love gangsters) was portrayed as a courageous man, one who should be followed!!
Definitely, the way by which these movies spread misinformation is audacious. Now, some may say that this is not a serious issue and it’s just a movie which has to be enjoyed and forgotten. NO!! May be the movie needs to be forgotten but does it relieve the movie makers of their responsibilities?? Don’t they have a positive role to be played in our society? Is everything only for profit? Are we living in a cent-percent Capitalist society where only business is the motive? Where there is no such word as social welfare or social responsibility!!
In the 21st century era, digital technology is the new way of life, time is money & knowledge is power and the speed of spreading knowledge is unmatched as never before. Many, if not all, depend on the media, be it the social media, the print media, the digital media, etc. for information and for awareness (which is in a way wrong, as the source and content of the information is not always genuine). The movies greatly influence the mind of the common public and many a times it’s been used as a propaganda tool. From revolutionaries to dictators, everyone has used the cinema to propagate their ideas.
Its a powerful tool that needs to be used judiciously!
It’s true that it depends upon us as what we conclude of the movie after we return from the cinema hall but the onus also lies on the movie makers on what they show us!!!
P.S. I have only covered the half-truth way of some unscrupulous media but there are many roles of media in particular which I will cover in a gradual way.
Keep reading & Keep learning! Remember, Knowledge & Exercise are the only two things that never go unused!!!