‘How can we change what’s wrong if we don’t want to see and hear it?’

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Dibakar Banerjee, Filmmaker

Dibakar Banerjee, Filmmaker
Dibakar Banerjee, Filmmaker, Photo: Shailendra Pandey

SOME THINGS about Bollywood desperately need to change if we don’t want to become fossils. The Bollywood dynasties. The tendency to hang all our hopes on one person. The dangerous tendency to deify someone and then to either worship at his feet or heap abuse on his head. It shows that as a society we aren’t ready to define things for ourselves yet.

We are all good. We are alright. All Izz Well. We are going to beat China. We repeat these things to reassure ourselves because we are insecure about the inequalities, starvation and conflict all around us that we don’t want to see.

Often, to us, an actor is only a moving showcase of six-pack abs, muscles, fair skin, shoes and jewellery. Not that abs are bad. But just abs? That can get a bit boring.

Accomplished film industries elsewhere, including Hollywood, make films that slake our thirst for glamour, superhero myths and escapism but also films that mirror society and grapple with complex issues. A fair amount have big stars and do well, if not spectacularly, at the box-office. Bollywood needs to increase its quota of films that successfully question who we are as a society, while not giving up on its role as the prime mass entertainer. So much was said about nudity in my last film Love, Sex Aur Dhokha but so little about what was really scandalous. The censor board cut out the segment in which a pair of lovers are killed. In the original the honour-killer tells his victim, “God has decided a place for everyone. We let you enter our house and you forget your place? You low-caste dog?” How can we change what is wrong if we don’t want to hear what is wrong?

I suppose Bollywood will change only as society changes. After all, Bollywood is a part of the same insecure society at the crossroads that we ourselves constitute. So many stories wait to be told. But we have to be confident enough to listen to other voices. Voices that may not say what we want to hear.

As Told To Vikas Bahuguna

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