Month: November 2013

Can prejudice be eradicated or is it here to stay?

Racism is a global issue. The populous across this planet has been subject to some form of discrimination due to their ethnicity. We see this in various avenues including business, music, movies and even sports! One would say the thought of dividing by colour of skin is draconian, why is it still so prevalent today?

As an Indian, and having been brought up in India, it’s rather unnatural for me (and pretty much everyone else I know) to make fleeting judgements on people based on their skin colour. It’s unnatural for us to vocally or physically persecute someone due to their colour. Therefore, racism is non-existent in India, right? But why is this so? How is that, a country with a population of 1.27 billion, has minimal racism as compared to countries with far lesser population? Are Indians psychologically superior? As much as I’d love to subscribe to that school of thought it’s, rather obviously, codswallop.

While India may be more tolerant of racism in terms of skin colour, there exists a deep rooted prejudice with regard to caste and religion. Regular honour killings, murders, gang wars, mass murders and genocides happen for the above reason. Even in countries where there exists only one religion and one caste there exists some other forms of discrimination. Prejudice due to religion, sex, education and the most common one, discrimination based on money and power. While the reasons for prejudice vary from one country to the other, prejudice itself remains a universal constant.

It’s interesting to note the results of a study that conducted by Yale researchers, recently. A group of monkeys was put together with another group of monkeys and on evaluation after sometime, it was noted that they formed likes and dislikes with certain elements of either group, based on particular characteristics that were common/uncommon.

Prejudice is inherent in human beings. It is a primal instinct at work and has evolved itself over so many years to manifest itself through mediums, which are religion, sex, class etc. Does that mean no matter how many years go by, Prejudice will always exist? When we look back on Earth 100 years later will we still be fighting a losing battle against racism and religion?

I have lot of faith in humanity and I’d like to believe that going forward people will change their mind about lot of non-issues like religion, sex, skin colour and creed. Martin Luther King could galvanise a community and beseech to a nation to accept this community successfully, then I’m sure similar attempts to bond people through awareness and education will definitely help bring down harmful prejudices to tolerable levels.

Are Movies Art?

Deepavali or Diwali, however you may call it, is over and thankfully that means I no longer have to hear aberrant comments. People who are going crazy with the Lakshmi Bombs, 1000 walas, hydrogen bombs are the same ones who criticise Metal for being ‘just noise’. Guess we can banish these thoughts for at least a year now.

I was recently pondering a discussion I’ve had with few clusters of people before. Are movies art? Interestingly this has generated a lot of mixed views. While some people clearly feel movies or films are the paintings, classical music and sculptures of today; others beg to differ. They feel that movies do not evoke the same degree of creativity to allow for interpretation. Much like everyone else, when someone mentions art the cardinal cognition that comes to my mind is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa was painted in first decade of the 1500s and extraordinarily still remains a highly deliberate piece of art. For example, the smile of Mona Lisa, the explanations range from scientific theories about human vision to curious supposition about Mona Lisa’s identity and feelings. Somehow 500 years has not been enough to decipher the smile of Mona Lisa, let alone the numerous other cryptic secrets Da Vinci has left behind on the rest of the painting. 9 Symphonies heard around the world by one of the most legendary composers; a story that shows the art of music is universal, so much so that a deaf person composed what is his greatest piece of music and largely considered the best in music history. The Sistine Chapel, The Taj Mahal, Lady Justice or The Venus De Milo, all indisputable works of art that have stood the test of time and have precipitated thought and awe across various generations of human beings. This without a shred of doubt is art and even the most cynical person couldn’t possibly argue with this.

What about films? Can you class a 120 minute celluloid along with Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Art as:
“The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”

It’s evident that movies/films fit into this category yet, for some reason, there is a large reluctance from people to accept movie and movie making as a form of art. Perhaps this is due to several irons in the fire. We have access to so many films and end up watching most of them and are never left fully satisfied barring maybe 3 or 4 of them. Hence, immediacy of thoughts estimates that only about 1 in 30 films are actually admirable. Even lesser would be considered as really brilliant.

However, movie making is a combination of so many different unique skill sets from so many different people, all of which need to blend together seamlessly to leave the audience with a riveting experience for a rather short duration of time. Scripting, casting, directing, screenplay, acting, editing, music, production values and timing all play an integral role in deciding the outcome of the movie. No wonder only a rarity of films leave such a lasting impression and in my opinion simply have to be considered Works of Art. Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Nayagan, Psycho, Goodfellas, Monty Python, The Dark Knight, Avatar, Star Wars(original trilogy) are master pieces and for me will stand the test of time(some of them already have in a rather fast moving field).

Will there be terrible films? Yes. But if a movie like Dhoom 3 should be put on the pedestal to judge films as art then so should the drawing of a tea-pot that you made when you were a toddler(for drawing and painting).

Much like the evolution of plants, animals and humans, one should consider the evolution of what is art. I would like to close this matter of personal taste with a quote by WB Yeats “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper”.