The movies these days often make us pull our hair out, whatever is left of it. The zip-zap-zoom nature of the flicks on display leaves one rather exasperated as to what really happened, to whom, and how! Bollywood, as also Hollywood, films hardly let us settle into any mode or mood. They just scurry to the next scene! They all resemble Bond movies these days, wherein dialogues are either foul or fleeting, the emphasis clearly being on visual scintillation and even titillation.
A lengthy high voltage dialogue between Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti for instance, took our breaths away with its intense melodrama. Romance- whatever was left of it- fizzled out, after a semblance of it was noticed in films like Gadar, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Dil Chahta Hai, all of which incidentally premiered in 2001. For the last 15 years then, barring a few exceptions, viewers have been treated like robots with no hearts.
An actor with just four lines to speak will find special mention in the credits, and may even pick up the best supporting actor award. And those four lines may well consist only of abusive diatribe!
Take the latest Ranbir Kapoor and Anoushka Sharma starrer- Ai Dil Hai Mushkil, or ADHM, as it is more popularly known (even the titles have to be abbreviated, you see). Excepting a couple of scenes where Aishwarya Rai has an actual conversation with Ranbir, there is little romance on offer. There is much sparring and some chemistry between Anoushka and Ranbir, but really nothing of substance on display. There is no depth, no meeting of the eyes, no real love.
This is not to say that Ranbir or Anoushka have not performed well. Ranbir in particular is an amazing craftsman who brings out his character’s torments and highs rather well. Karan Johar’s film even manages to highlight certain important issues facing society today. But on the whole it is verily reflective of the frenzied genre of film making that has come to stay in this era.
The attention span that society exhibits in real life is usually not even a minute long. People at a restaurant or at an airport seem to be in a knee-jerk mode all the time. Those who are able to engage in quality conversations are few and far between. Texting has become more expressive than the voices we hear. A longish repartee between friends takes place only over a cup of coffee. Conversational skills have clearly been decimated by the lack of listening skills that we possess. Interruptions can abound in any form-digital or analogue! The television, the over-smart phones, laptops and tablets have collectively destroyed the art of conversation.
Substance has clearly given way to style. Society seems to be averse to constructive dialogue in any form. The shouting matches that occur with astounding regularity on TV and even in legislative assemblies provide little inspiration to onlookers. One does not even need to mention some of the examples in this column. They are so well known!
Thus very few people are able to sit down and mull collectively even on subjects of significance through a balanced discussion. Classroom attendees too lack the virtue of patience at times. They are either fiddling with their phones or nodding off!
Yet, there is a way out of this predicament. Our attention spans need not go back to the levels of eras gone by. We simply need to prioritise our daily schedule and give quality time to that which really matters.
Family members in particular need to shun the idiot box at times and focus on each other for a change. As it is, family time has reduced drastically these days, for a multitude of reasons. Several tensions and stresses can be avoided if a family simply sits together at dinner time or thereafter, and actually talks!
Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the Autobiography of a Yogi, wrote that life on this planet is akin to a cosmic motion picture drama, and we are all actors in a movie. Ladies and gentlemen, we’d better start performing our roles better, or else our film is surely going to flop!