« Previous | Next»

17 Dec 2004

Realism - Dead or Alive?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 3:59am

Cinema thrives on exaggeration. The recent list of blockbusters proves the point. Not a surprise, for cinema had always been so. The point that is bugging me is - from early nineties, cinema has shown a marked departure from 'realism'. Exaggeration in movies increased in direct proportion to the hype involved in promoting the product. As a result, the focus shifted drastically from story to secondary attributes - huge settings, sensational twists, double loads of mush, beastly indulgence in instincts, etc. These days, stories are written and scenes are shot with the promos in mind, and the actual film goes to the wall. It does, without doubt, reflect the psyche of the audience - lower attention spans, impatience, and ye dil maange more attitude for sensation. So, the more restless the society is, the more loud and mediocre the films will be. All this sound reasoning not withstanding, it makes me sad that unlike in other forms of art, the movement of realism lasted shorter in the art of filmmaking.

I'm not suggesting that out of the 900 movies made every year, at least 600 should focus on realism. I admit it is an unreasonable expectation. I'd be happy with as few as 10 such 'real' films. I understand that the richness of the medium and the craft of storytelling demand that the product appears attractive and not as just another stoty of the guy-next-door. Moreover, business as it is, and with the kind of investment involved, the entire packaging is done with the returns in mind. Naturally, films appeal to one's fantasies - each one in the audience knows, subconsciously, where the story is exactly moving toward. Each one of them knows that the hero would come out triumphant even from the most impossible of situations. Ironically, the more impossible the situations are, the more thrilling the triumph. Admitting that these are all guided by the very nature of the economic model that filmmaking is, I do believe it is not impossible to make compelling films portraying reality and yet doing good at the box-office. But again, what the fuss about box-office? These chaps have millions, and are supposedly talented. Can't they dare to risk making a good film without worrying about returns?

Mani Ratnam stands out. But he is, strictly speaking, not a realist filmmaker. I want to see Satyajit Ray's kind of masterpieces - that show life as it is. For every hundred KHNHs, I want just one Anand; for every hundred Gadars or Borders or Lagaans, I want just one Pratidwandi; for every hundred 3KGs, I want just one Apur Sansar. I agree Hero No.1, Ye No.1, Wo No.1 are all fine comedies, but I want one Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron too. For every hundred Karan Johars, I want one Satyajit Ray. I don't want to see fantastic stories of heroes, I want to see stories of people. Is there really a realist filmmaker out there, or is he an extinct species?

I don't know if anyone remembers the music video that Lintas made on Bombay when riots devastated the city in early nineties, but it was so brilliant that I still remember the visuals. It was about people - it was about you and me. At a time when kitsch is king, Rabbi's Bulla Shah music video came as a saviour. He didn't take the camera into studio settings, but he took it into the streets. May his tribe increase!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

4 Comments | "Realism - Dead or Alive?" »

  1. By Vj

    7 Jan 2005, 5:36pm [ Reply ]


    Choosing what kind of cinema to watch is a simple case of 'criteria' just as in case of any other choice in life. There is no superior criteria or inferior one. So, if it appears childish and insensible to you, it simply implies that your 'criteria' for 'good/great cinema' is different from the one who admires realism in movies. If you think realism is childish and insensible, I'm afriad, you are dismissing Satyajit Ray!

    Besides, looking into it deeply, from a psychlogical standpoint, going to watch a movie for 'escaping' from the harsh reality is 'immature'. It makes cinema an addiction, and any addict loses the courage to accept reality as it is. And most people indeed are immature and cannot take reality as it is, and they seek grand, make-believe illusions, which is why cinema is in such a bad shape.

    Nah, expecting realism is not childish or insensible. On the contrary. It is both an aesthetic refinement and psychlogical maturity.

    If that doesn't convince you, it's a good idea to read Freud and Russell.

    Have a great day!

  2. By Andy

    5 Jan 2005, 8:18pm [ Reply ]

    Expecting reality in movies is being childish and insensible. Reality is something you are seeing daily in your life. You go for a movie to take yourself away from your day-to-day happenings.
    There are people who love watching Jackie Chan in movies and there are others who watch SRK and other popular celebrities in movies. None of those are close to reality either.

  3. By Vj

    17 Dec 2004, 12:07pm [ Reply ]

    True to it, I have stopped watching 'unreal' stuff a good few years ago, and made a 'real' short-film too. I want to meet those who are passionate about filmmaking and can afford to invest in the same so we can experiment with another. Have a great day!

  4. By notorious B.I.G

    17 Dec 2004, 5:16am [ Reply ]

    It will be done for sure if you can finance the "real" movies, or if you yourself stop going to all the "unreal" movies.

Add comment