Lighting the torch of revolution

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Ankit Arya finds how a counterculture in India will be the first step towards a social revolution

Photo: Tarun Sehrawat

DRUGS AND sex are no longer taboo subjects in western countries. A similar reaction has been gradually building up in India. It is difficult to say if this is right or wrong. But it is clear that sometimes, mainstream cultural value has to pave way for the changing demands of the present generation. This counterculture is the Rock ’n Roll of our society, excavating its darker depths.

A peep into history gives us an insight into the process. It was born in American colleges during 1960s as a reaction against the conservative government and the social norms of the 1950s. The political conservatism of the Cold War period, and the US government’s extensive military intervention in Vietnam, only instigated the youth to find identity in a culture counter to the ongoing. Popular art and media swayed to the rhythm of this counterculture leading to the emergence of a new ideology of the ‘left’. Although this lasted for only two decades in the US, it was instrumental in shaping the popular music, giving it an everlasting character.

In India, the seed of such a counterculture was sown with the changing tastes of the people. It has taken the form of voice of the youth that demands to be heard by the decision- makers of the country. Be it the Naxalite movement or the demand for homosexual rights, the demands are getting stronger and are seen in popular art and media.

Though cinema in India has largely retained a commercial approach, multiplex culture is allowing voices of new and experimental filmmakers to be heard. Films like Rang de Basanti, A Wednesday, and Omkara are examples of newer Indian cinema, which is progressive in nature. Music too has widened its scope, allowing influence from around the world.

The counterculture of the 1960s in the US will always be studied, adored and admired as a step towards a utopian world. Such a counterculture in India would definitely be revolutionary. Which means, It would be the candle that burns brightly in the dark against all odds, and guides us towards a path where we can see the sunrise.

Ankit Arya studies at the Amity School of Communication, Amity University.
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