Richa, that’s a bit rich…

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So ‘The Print’ has found its cause celebre – free speech. And has mounted this initiative in collaboration with the legend… wait for it… dary ‘Facebook’, which itself is mired in controversy over #Fakenews, along with BITS Hyderabad.

I am sure The Print and FB have India’s best interests at heart. There can be no doubt.

The fiery Richa Chadha, whose fame came riding on the back of some very interesting roles in Gangs of Wasseypur, a grimy epic saga of mindless violence and toxic masculinity, Fukrey, a crazy comedy, and Masaan, a tragic love story of blackmail and emotional survival, is known for her feminist stance. And may her tribe increase.

So, when she appears at #DemocracyWall, it is newsworthy, at least for The Print anyway.

And this is what she said at the event, among other things.

Richa is right that movies are blamed for rising crime. And she’s quick to dismiss the role that films might play in impacting the psyche of its audience. She calls it simplistic to draw that connection.

This is where I have a problem.

I hope Richa has conducted a study to prove that audiences are not impacted by the content they consume. She will be surprised, to say the least. 

Whatever Richa might say, there is ample evidence otherwise:

If the movies had no impact on the audiences, why would the government mandate the insertion of anti-smoking advisory?

Going by Richa’s logic, the advisory can be removed because the public is discerning enough to know that showing SRK smoking and looking cool doesn’t mean they can start radiating SRK vibes just by smoking. You see, the movies are just mirroring the society.

Okay, let’s take another matter: family values. 

You know the Sooraj Barjatya kind of movies?

That’s mirror too. In our Sanskari society therefore, there should be no rapes.

Bah, you’ll say.

Finally, advertisements.

If movies or advertisements did not have any impact in creating a desire or aspiration, where is the point in those millions of product placements and those glamorous ads that market everything from a sports car to a ceramic tile with the image of a scantily clad woman? 

Is this also a case of mirroring?

So my ultimate question is, Richa, where do you get off? Where does Bollywood get off? Why do you think Pink, English Vinglish, Drishyam… and movies of this kind, even your own Masaan, make such an impact on the audience? And was it because you were just holding a mirror to us?

Who draws the line between “hey, this is to cause an impact”, “this scene to mirror the society”, and “this is just for a lark!”?

Who? You?

You, who thinks Bollywood is the one that spoke up against #KathuaRapeCase, finally pressuring the PM to make a statement? When do you speak up against the rampant sexual abuse of women and men in the industry you so coldly defend?

When you say movies get blamed, aren’t you just defending your cronies who insert titillating scenes of violence and abuse just to provoke people? What do you think Gangs of Wasseypur was all about?

I admire you for what you have said (Link here ) on Section 375 and your comments on rape culture are truly commendable. But, that does not take away from the fact that movie makers have a responsibility to the society. It doesn’t serve any purpose to hide behind this mask of “Oh, I’m only showing what’s happening, not contributing to it”.

Just like you and your industry shows that great deal of restraint in criticising certain religions, and it really really shows restraint in doing so to ensure the safety of its members, that same degree of concern for responsible filmmaking is absolutely essential. Just watch any of Kanti Shah’s films and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Here’s a link  to the report of a student that committed suicide after watching 3 idiots, and a cluster of suicides were reported as a result. Here’s a link to the report of another such incident.

Now, let me give you a short list of what your movies do not mirror:

Ramanujan, the Indian mathematical genius.

Shakuntala Devi, the human computer.

Abbakka Chowta, the first Tulvuva Queen of Ullal who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th Century

Jhansi Ki Rani,

Indian women scientists who took India to space

and many, many more such stories.

If you really think movies mirror our society, I hope you guys get waaaayyyyyy better at your jobs because this argument will not fly until we hear the likes of you coming out against the abuse going on within the industry… we know it’s there, under the carpet.

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