With the growth of the country the Indian Cinema has been turned up into a dream factory full of glossy urban characters, speaking Hinglish, draping themselves in designer labels and hanging out at the mall. But still movies about social consciousness have made in-roads into the heart and are welcomed by the janta-janaardhan hugely. The perfect example of this can be seen as Anurag Basu’s Barfi and Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan. Film buffs are no more addicted to the Bollywood masala movies and are heartily gorging upon issue based cinema. One of the super hit movies among the category of films on social issues was Achhut Kannya which was released in 1936. The film dealt with the social position of Dalit girls and was considered a reformist period-piece. The film was one of several successful Bombay Talkies collaborations. The central story is of the unhappy love affair between an “untouchable” girl and a Brahmin boy who fall in love, but the strict caste system and the gossip of the villagers threaten to keep them apart.
With the touch of glamour, the directors have been very successful in pointing out the social issues, the diseases suffering by the common man which are mostly unknown to the audience. The issue about education in today’s world is very smartly showcased in 3 idiots. Rather the approach, treatment and prominence to the characters have undergone a mature change over the years.
Movies that made their mai-baap aware about health issues:
In 2003, Koi… Mil Gaya showcased Hrithik Roshan in the role of a developmentally disabled man, while Aparna Sen’s National award-winning film 15 Park Avenue put the spotlight on Schizophrenia. Konkona Sen Sharma, as the schizophrenic Meethi in 15 Park Avenue, drove the complexities of the disease with ease to the audience’s heart. In 2008, viewers got a taste of amnesia on screen. Aamir Khan was shown as a patient of amnesia, a state of short-term memory span; in the super hit film Ghajini. The following year, action film Luck saw heartthrob Imran Khan with dextrocardia, a rare medical condition in which a person is born with his heart on the right side. The same year, Amitabh gave a noteworthy performance as Auro, an innocent child suffering from progeria in Paa. Progeria causes premature ageing among children and is a rare disease; so the movie managed to create a buzz about it across the country. The year 2010 saw superstar Shah Rukh Khan as Rizwan Khan suffering from Asperger syndrome, which causes difficulty in social interaction. Later, Hrithik essayed a paraplegic, who appeals for euthanasia in Bhansali’s Guzaarish. These movies were super hit on the box-office. Audience usually develop an emotional connection with the lead suffering with disease mentioned above, ‘When a hero/heroine cries the audience cry’.
Cinema capturing nerves through social issues
Along with movies on health issues a spate of recent movies addressing poverty and corruption is fast becoming a welter, as India’s domestic audience demands more realism making the film-makers recognise the commercial and creative potential of grittier material. Last year we saw dirty policing deal with in Dabangg and political gangsterism tackled head-on in Raajneeti. The suicides of indebted farmers and the feeding frenzies that constantly grip India’s 24-hour news media were brutally exposed in the brilliant Peepli-Live. Films like Well Done Abba (2009), Antardwand (2007), Gangajaal (2003), Swaraaj (2002), Chandni Baar (2001), Dhanna (1997) and Tamanna (1996) have also won national award for best films on social issues.
Now day’s film-makers are realising the potential of the home market and is addressing national themes through movies mixed with good songs. In the past, film makers were afraid to make these kinds of movies but now they are not.