‘Those in power have waged a war on humour’

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Arnab Ray, 37, Writer
Arnab Ray, 37, Writer

How did you shift from computer science to writing?
I think I was always a writer. I’d like to think that deep inside, all of us are writers. We all have stories to write. Only some spend the time and energy to put down those stories in words.

Has the rise of online media put an expiry date on print?
Newspapers, yes. Not immediately, but within a few years. As India becomes more digitally connected and people get used to reading from a screen, they won’t wait till 7 am tomorrow to read what’s happening now. However, books will survive for a while before a sufficient amount of people become so comfortable reading the length of War And Peace on an e-reader that publishers go out of business. How this will play out depends on technology and pricing strategies.

How effective is satire as a medium of critique?
Good satire bites. It draws blood. Which is perhaps why you see, all over India, a war against humour being waged by those in power, using Indian laws that prevent ‘hurting of sentiment’ as weapons of mass litigation.

How do you view sexuality and gender in Indian cinema?
Mainstream popular cinema, is as aggressively heteronormative as it has always been. Why should it change? We have not changed as a people. Popular entertainment, by its very definition, has to be synced with what the public wants. That is why boldness is measured by square-inch of female exposure and minutes of good, old-fashioned heterosexual tongue-wrestling, which is all so ho-hum.

Then how has Indian cinema changed from the 1970s?
In terms of technology, we have progressed. But not with our themes and stories. The same old stories are now polished, split-screened and jump-cut. We still lift, sorry, get inspired by foreign movies, except now we avoid Hollywood and go film-school with Korean and Iranian fare. There are some great off-mainstream directors now like Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee, but there were great directors even in the ’70s, in the parallel cinema movement.

2 COMMENTS

  1. He’s rubbish – Initislly some of his blogs are funny but most them are repititve and have become boring. The novel was a waste of time too.

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