Monday, February 14, 2005

A Piece of Art....!!!

Before you read: The following piece is related to art movies and so, can be highly boring. Also, by saying that, if I have evoked any hopes of reading about soft-pornography and extra-marital affairs, sorry. It doesn't deal with that part of art movies. And it will be a little long too. If you are a guy, after reading this you may be left with a feeling similar to that you will have after watching an art movie that doesn’t even contain nudity. So here I warn you, before you read, READER DISCRETION RECOMMENDED.

I was introduced to art movies during my junior college days. And i was pretty excited about them then. Doordarshan used to telecast them on Friday nights at 11PM. Star TV was just setting foot in India and not all had cable TV access. So, those 11PM movies were the only source of 'education' for we guys.

As I 'grew', I distanced myself from this genre of movies and stopped bothering about them. So, when there was this controversy about Konkona Sen and national anthem, i couldn't get who this heroine was. I asked one of my friends and she told me that Konkona is an award-winning actress who acted in a very good movie called "Mr & Mrs Iyer".

Yes, i did hear that movie's name some time back. But never bothered to check the details. Now that i got a little interested in knowing about this actress, i thought of finding out details of this movie. Google helped me in finding coupla reviews of this movie.

For all those who didn’t watch this movie, here is a brief. It’s about an Iyer woman, traveling in a bus to kolkata with her infant son. She meets a Muslim guy in that bus, who helps her during the journey. On the way, some Hindu fundamentalists attack the bus and kill all the muslims in the bus. She saves this muslim guy by saying he is her husband Mr. Iyer. During the rest of the journey she falls in love with that guy, but in the end reaches her husband.

This film is directed by a famous director Aparna Sen and stars her daughter Konkona Sen. As usual, this was played in all those international film fests and won numerous awards. Konkona Sen got best actress award for this movie from Indian Government. There were rave reviews appreciating how Aparna Sen portrayed subtle emotions and human feelings in a very natural and touching way and all that. I could find all those rare words that are used only in art film reviews.

But to my petty brain, nothing looked natural in that movie. Ofcourse, i agree that to understand such movies, one should be at a 'very high' level of comprehension & maturity. They are beyond logic and never to be understood by software engineers. For example, the lead actress is shown as such a conservative Iyer woman, who doesn’t even drink water from a muslim. For such a conservative woman, i just wonder how natural & human it is to call a muslim her husband!!! No, I never understand that.

If Aparna Sen really wanted to show the conservative nature of orthodox hindu brahmin women, she could have shown how hesitant they will be even to talk to a guy other than their husband. But her intent was to show them as stupid people, who dont even drink water if it is given by a muslim but at the same time can fall in love with him. They are portrayed as confused, ignorant and senseless people who dont know their priorities. Little wonder this film got so much acclaimed in all those
international film fests by so many westerners.

One more instance is of a muslim couple traveling in the bus who are murdered by the attackers. Its shown that they have refused to go to pakistan at the time of partition. And all the reviewers appreciated how well Aparna Sen dealt with this aspect of plight of indian muslims. One person described it as the portrayal of an indian muslim's mindset who is wondering whether he has done the right thing by staying back in india.

Now, i wonder how natural is that again. Aren't indian muslims safer and more developed than their Pakistani counterparts? Don’t they enjoy more comforts in this democratic country than in a dictator-ruled Pakistan? After all, their fellow Hindu
exchequer pays for their Haj trip subsidy. Where else can they be in a better condition. Ofcourse, i agree that there are few instances of communal violence. But whose responsible for that? Any Way, lets not discuss such controversial things. But is the situation so grave as to make films and parade them in all the international forums? What impact will it have on India’s image?

But after all, this movie is made by a mother who couldn't civilise her daughter enough, even to respect the National Anthem. How can i expect something different? But to think that the movie received awards from Indian government instead of a ban!

I always hated these fame-mongers who would go to any lengths, just to earn awards. And to be known as progressive and intellectual. And also, all those people who throw applauses on them just to claim their piece of fame. Just imagine what would have happened if some one made a film named Mr & Mrs Khan, with the same story but showing the woman as a muslim and the guy as a hindu. And show Hindus getting killed by a muslim mob. Forget any awards, all the so called secular media would have called it Hindu fundamentalist and the government would have banned the movie. And Aparna Sen knows this pretty well!

If some one really wants to represent india in all those International film fests, there are many better ways. We have one of the best family systems in the world. There is a huge scope to make films that portray the emotions and affections that are unique to indians. We don't have to show a married woman falling in love with a co-traveller on her journey. Yes, you may call it as middle-class morality thing or whatever, but thats what is native to this country. I do agree that every society is a mix of things good and bad. And i don't claim that india is full of Sathi Savithris. But i think, our strength is in our family system and thats what the outer world looks for in indian movies. And i believe thats what has earned respect to India in the past.

A movie like 'Fire' won't do any good to india and is of no use to our society. I look at it on par with those Shakila starred Mallu movies. I really wonder why they are not called Art Movies!

Aparna Sen might have got so many applauses and her films might have won so many awards internationally, but I am ashamed of Indians like her.