Global cultures and trends have a tremendous impact on our lifestyles. Keeping up with the expedited pace of globalization has never been easier, now that we are slowly awakening from the torpor of isolation, with the aim of reaching out to the world beyond. International print and electronic media influence our perceptions and sometimes mold our thoughts, and most of the times this influence is inadvertent. Such transgressions have affected all existing arenas and fields, and unequivocally one of the strongest medium that survives and thrives- the silver screens of celluloid, in other words the glitzy, glamorous world of showbiz.
Gone are the eras of romanticism, when our mothers emulated the dazzling belles of this subcontinent, effortlessly portrayed by the likes of Babita, Nargis and Madhubala-the long swishing braids, mesmerizing kohl lined eyes, Elizabethan blouses, coupled with a touch of coyness and an aura of modesty. Mentionable names of the West include Audrey Hepburn Elizabeth Taylor, the two global icons that have enthralled and enticed the awestruck audience with their divine beauty. The golden years of the 80’s and 90’s are now merely requiems of the lost glory of celluloid, when Uttam- Shucitra film would grace the television screen. Considered as one of the most iconic and legendary on screen pairs of the 80’s, the bewitching and absolutely electrifying chemistry that cast a magic spell on the youth back then is beyond imagination today. Heartthrobs and handsome hunks come and go today, like shooting stars that rise to the pinnacle of success but plummet to the nadir after an temporary stint with stardom and fame. But enigmas like Raj Kapoor, Gregory Peck, Razzak immortalized only the characters that they essayed, but also their overwhelming charm along with an exuberant, indomitable zeal for life, not only reached out to the masses, but garnered their unwavering love and fervent devotion.
While the vintage era baptized legendary names like ‘Pother panchali’ ,’ Gone with the Wind’, ‘Sholay’ to name a few, it also ascribed the astronomical rise of a string of multitalented artists, gifted film-makers and cinematographers. Privileged were the adults who experienced the scintillating magic weaved by Satyait Roy, Dadashaheb Phalke, Akira Kurosawa and Alfred Hitchcock; it was indeed cinema that earned the adulation and plaudits of the international audience. Their depiction of the intricacies of human relationships, the struggles, torments of the inner soul, the oppression of the weak and the dominance of the elite was an omnipresent force that were catalysts to the dynamic social reforms and changes back then. Cinema wasn’t just the pseudonym of escape from the harsh manifolds of reality; it was a harbinger of social and political awakening, a renaissance of its own. Today, the disparities and divergences between classes, echelons, communities, sects and races are as prevalent as ever, but cinema is still single most powerful medium that eradicates the dichotomies and discord between diverse beliefs, thoughts and ethos, even if it is for an hour or two. The fact that we stand under the same umbrella even for at least a short time span, is in fact overwhelming.
Undoubtedly, some critiques and aficionados may postulate that cinema of the yesteryear was deeply associated, almost synonymous to escapism- the schmaltzy melodrama, heartbreaking or feet tapping renditions of joy or melancholia was devoid of reality. Like an illusion, the sepia would transport the audience, whenever they wished, to world of delightful delusions. Movies today, commercial or art, are more inclined on portraying hard and fast reality, and fiction is the lie which is used to tell the truth. Fantasies, utopia, and myths occupy a negligible share of the plots and story lines, whereas drama, thrillers and action have taken the front seat. The characters handcrafted by the likes of James Cameron and Steven Spielberg are larger than life, their dreams and aspirations reflecting that of our own. Orthodox concepts of love, hatred, passion have been redefined and re-modified, to meet the needs of a radically changing world.
Whether you guffaw at the ludicrous stunts and dialogues of Ananta Jalil or find solace in the blissful companionship of ‘A Roman holiday’ or ‘Casablanca’, celluloid has really come a long way. Then again, change is inevitable and must be embraced with open arms…