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Indian Cinema and its Impact on Society

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1983 words Published: 4th Oct 2021

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In our society there are many practices and traditions which are based on ignorance and which have withheld the progress of our society. Rigidity of caste system, untouchability, dowry system and purdah system have done enormous harm to our society. Cinema films can do a lot to eradicate these evils. They can be used for promoting national integration, Prohibition, intercaste marriages, family planning, eradication of illiteracy, etc. Such themes can help the transformation of our society. The cinema can be used as an instrument to help people get rid of obscurantism and also to guide them along the right path. It can help in remov­ing ignorance from our society. Not only this, several much needed social reforms can be introduced and brought about with the help of the cinema. http://essaysandarticles.com/science/the-cinema%E2%80%94-its-impact-on-society/

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There are variable views about the effects of cinema. Producers and financiers consider it as a tempting and lucrative business. For actors and actresses, it is a means to earn money and popularity among masses. The director, story-writer, song-writer and cinematographer take it as an art work. To some, it is an audio-visual translation of literatures and has its own message. As for government, it is a potential source of revenue and employment. For majority of cinema-goers, it is nothing but a cheap and interesting form of entertainment and pastime. Whatever may be the reason, cinema has occupied a major share of market for its cine lovers.


Indian Cinema:

Since its beginning with the film ‘Raja Harish Chandra’ (1913), the cinema has remained the most powerful media for mass communication in India.

Since its beginning with the film ‘Raja Harish Chandra’ (1913), the cinema has remained the most powerful media for mass communication in India. Cinema has the ability to combine entertainment with communication of ideas. It has the potential appeal for its audience. It certainly leaves other media far behind in making such an appeal. As in literature, cinema has produced much which touches the innermost layers of the man. It mirrors the episodes in such a manner that leaves an impact on the coming generations. Cinema presents an image of the society in which it is born and the hopes, aspirations, frustration and contradictions present in any given social order.

In the present era, cinema is getting replaced by small screen productions. Televised serials and programmes are replacing craze. They advertise and earn revenue for industry. Thus films telecast has become a source of further income for the industry and trade.

Man has instincts, different thoughts flow which leave an effect on the minds. The person laughs with the films and tears with them. Scenes of ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, a film by Raj Kumar Santoshi and Manoj Goswami makes people national-minded and sentimentally involved in the film show. The fim dialogues are occupying places in our real life. Dialogues of Mugle Azam found place in the normal interaction of people for a long time. People talked and walked like Prithvi Raj, the great king Akbar. In the same way, plays by Agha Hashat and Devdas by Sharat Chandra left a deep impact on the masses. In the same way, film ‘Sholey’ created an imending effect on so many.


Example of Bengali Cinema and how it portrays:

Realism and Modernity are two words closely associated with Bengali cinema. Some of the greatest and among the most popular filmmakers of Bengal took realist genre of films to a new height, alongside reflecting modernist ideas. Realism and modernity go hand-in-hand in Bengali films, especially in the work of greats like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak.

Although defining ‘modernity’ would mean at least a few more pages, for the sake of this essay, we would deduct it down to merely social, political and artistic modernization. Satyajit Ray’s magnum opus ‘Pather Pancheli’ is one of the greatest examples of realist films portraying various elements of ‘modernity’. Inspired by Italian neo-realism (especially Vittorio De Sicca’s Bicycle Thief, 1948), Ray created his first film and a masterpiece reflecting the evolution and social change in Bengal and a modernization of ideas and concepts.

In Pather Panchali, Ray talks about leaving old ideas behind and moving on. He talks about how over time, old ways of living, ancestral ideas and traditional lifestyle has become stale and needs to be changed. Apu, with his family, leaves his home and village at the end because the ancestral house held them behind. They moved to find a better way of living. They moved to get rid of the old house which couldn’t help them in any way, but instead took their daughter’s life.

This whole film is a transition from pre-modern to a modern way of living. Ray distributes several metaphors throughout the film – metaphors of modernity and need for change. One important character which served as a metaphor for me was that of the old aunt. She’s old, tired and just wanders around the house doing nothing. She’s often told to go indicating she’s not wanted in the house. The family is fed up of her just as they’re fed up of traditions and the same lifestyle they’d been living – in the fear of famine, poverty and survival. The old aunt wanders, trying to find a place for herself, and when she doesn’t, she dies. Ray shows death of old ideas. Ray wants change. He shows a need for change and a breakaway from traditions which are holding you back. He wants to show there’s always a need for change. The old aunt is a mere metaphor for him to show how traditions have become stale.

‘Charulata’ (1964), another one of the great films by Ray, also talks about change. But here, he sets it in an upper middle class Bengali society where a lonely housewife falls in love with her brother-in-law while they both encourage each other to write. He puts two different ideas of home and desire, literature and politics, pre-modernism and modernity face-to-face.

Ray’s films have a humanistic touch. He uses his ‘craft’ to get to the deepest part of human heart and extract out the emotions from there. Scenes like Apu throwing away the necklace Durga had stolen, Amal leaving home to avoid being unfaithful, Durga stealing food for her aunt add to the humanistic approach of Satyajit Ray’s work.

Neo-realism is another thing that inspired Ray. According to me, it’s mainly because his stories were about society. He couldn’t have made them in a fictional style because then they wouldn’t be relevant to the society. His stories were not meant to be mere films, but a reality somewhere in time which needed to be imitated in Bengali society and which was a reflection of the same society he lived in. His characters were sketches of real people. They were close to real. For example, when you think Durga, you don’t think of her as a two-dimensional good or evil character, but as a girl who existed and had different attributes to her personality just like everybody else. She wasn’t a puppet.

Similarly, Ritwik Ghatak’s films introduced different modern themes to the evolving society of Bengal such as alienation, isolation, need for home.

In one of his most ‘personal’ and also socially relevant films ‘Ajantrik’, Ghatak introduces the concept of alienation and isolation from the society. He shows a man’s attachment to his car, an inanimate object and a troubled social life where he can’t connect well to the people around him. Scenes like where the character Bimal is talking to his car, the car responding to him, him taking care of the car like a companion and not caring about what his society says, show how important a character Jagaddal (the car) is. Ghatak doesn’t treat the car as a prop, but as a character itself. He tries to show the car’s point of view; he wants to make us feel its presence thus implying the fact how relations have also evolved along with modernization of ideas and society; how people have become more involved with their property rather than fellow human beings.

Similarly, in Subarnarekha (1965), Ghatak reflects on the feeling of home (along with many other sub-themes such as happiness, relations). His work has been about change, modernity and its effects and mainly, how partition has affected society and Ghatak himself.

In Subarnarekha, he tells a story of a family moving to the bank of Subarnarekha River after the partition and how the girl Sita seeks happiness throughout the film. Moreover, he tells of her feeling at the new home. The river becomes the new home for her who she confides in her secrets, woes and happiness.

From what I observed in Ghatak’s films, he believes that society has changed from being a ‘community’ to more of a collective living of different individuals. I observed individualism in his work, and how people have turned from their fellows to nature or man-made beauty whether it is mountains and rivers to cars and property.

I think there are many modernist elements found in both Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak’s films ranging from their content and themes (home, anthropomorphism, modernity itself) to their craft (use of POV shots, different style of cinematography, manipulating space and even the use of Brechtian elements).


It is always good and well groomed to see good subjects on cinema. They have a very positive and long-lasting effect on the minds whereas cheap and shabby movies affect the tender minds of audience very badly. There is general feeling that present day crimes are all due to effects of cinema. Besides open and demonstrative subjects throw tarnished messages. They spoil our culture, and society. Cinema and TV badly affect the health of the youngsters. They neglect studies and physical games to spend more time on this entertainment. School-going children and society children fail to make use of good impacts and are influenced by the bad part of the programmes on the air.

The motive is not to discard cinema or TV telecast so easily. The desirable act will be to selective and choosy for programmes. Good movies should be seen by the students. The movies of TV shows should be very much restricted and for a fix time.

The cinema exercises a great influence on the mind of the people. It has a great educative value. It can achieve splendid results in the field of expansion of education. There are certain subjects, such as science and geography, which can be more effec­tively taught with the help of talkies. Lessons on road sense, rules of hygiene and civic sense can be taught to the students and the ‘ public as well in a very effective manner with the help of cinema pictures. Many successful experiments have been made in various countries on the utility of films as a means of education. Feature films have been produced for school and college students and students are being benefitted by them.

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Cinema films have the power to influence the thinking of the people. They have changed the society and social trends. They have introduced new fashions in society. They may be described as pace-setters. They can create a direct impact on our social life. Films can go a long way towards arousing national consciousness and also in utilising the energies of the youth in social reconstruc­tion and nation-building by a skilful adaption of good moral, social and educative themes, and by introduction of popular sentiments, films can, to a great extent, formulate and guide public opinion


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