Reel and real life: What inspires the other?

Films, ever since their introduction in 1906, have been an indispensable medium of expression in the world. They have the power to mould a viewer’s imagination, change their perceptions, and cause an ultimate paradigm change in their thought processes. This arises from the instant appeal of the motion picture, its versatility, realism, and its coordination of the visual and aural senses. Few other forms of media have as intense a penetration into our minds and conscience as films do. It is due to these qualities that the laws of a country are sensitized towards the cinematic content, and often have provisions to regulate it. However, whether a State ought to interfere with the cinematic liberties of a creator through its tools of certification and censorship, is something that continues to plague the minds of the masses.

Cinema has taken upon itself to portray the vices of a society on the golden screen to expose the truth to the people. It has become a necessary tool to showcase everything that’s wrong with the society, using dramatization, satire, irony, and most importantly, the truth. Today’s cinema is no longer restricted to mere entertainment and recreation, but rather it compels the masses to delve deeper into their psyche, and analyse the societal mishaps. The contemporary filmmakers do not shy away from controversial subjects like crimes, politics, social misgivings, etc. In fact, more and more film makers are tackling these sensitive issues head on and are thus giving a positive reason for people to debate and discuss the activities of their country. For such healthy and aware debates to take place, a conducive environment is required. This environment is facilitated by an educated, rational, and a liberal censor board, tolerant viewership, and laws that allow free thought and expression.IMG-20170301-WA0017.jpg
Researchers have been divided on the portrayal of crimes in films and popular media. It brings us to an age- old question, whether real life inspires films or films inspire films. Researchers and professionals have argued for decades about whether the portrayal of violence in the various media causes violence in society. Laboratory experiments, field research and correlational studies have all been used as investigative tools. Some studies have suggested that there is a direct causal relationship between violence in entertainment and violent behaviour, and others have concluded that there is no association whatsoever. There is no substantial evidence that convinces us that portrayal of crime in cinema inspires youth or young adults to do the same. The objective behind inclusion of scenes depicting violent or revolting behaviour is not to add masala to the movie, but to invoke feelings of empathy for the victim and disgust for the perpetrator. It is important to showcase the truth in its entire nakedness for the viewers to comprehend the gravity of a situation. Heinous crimes like murder, rape, assault, terrorism need to be portrayed through the means of cinema as it is the closest source of expression available to people, having its reach even in the distant villages. Crimes like child abuse, domestic violence, find a voice condemning them through these films, which is why the stringent censorship laws are baffling. Censorship should be done judiciously, while preserving the essence of truth in the film, to educate the masses, through cinematic activism.

The article was written by Virinda (IInd year)


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