Cinematography (cinema, in short), is one of the most popular inventions of modern science, especially that type of it known as the Talkie. To see shadows on a screen, imitating the drama of life even to the point of talking like real men and women, —that is, indeed, an achievement.
In the beginning of the century, it would have been unthinkable. Not only has this miracle been achieved but even natural colours are nowadays convincingly reproduced. Today in India, there is hardly a city or town that has not its cinema-house.
The cinema in India has become a major industry besides being a popular means of amusement. In point of production, it occupies a position next to the Hollywood of USA. It has come to be the cheapest and the most popular form of amusement.
The cinema is, to a certain extent, pushing aside the theatre and yatra. While technology has perfected its imitation of life, it diminishes the human appeal.
Since the cinema presents to us human dramas, its usefulness will depend on the quality of life that it seeks to dramatise. Unfortunately, cinemas often ignore higher ideals and motives to make it a commercial success, by screening dramas that appeal to the vulgar tastes. Silly, sentimental romance, impossible and absurd situations, corrupt music, scenes and dances that appeal only to uneducated tastes and ticklish scenes of crude sex appeal are often the stock-in-trade of cinema-pictures. There is, however, the Censor Board to prevent vulgarisation of the cinema.
But the majority are not vulgar. After a hard day’s labour, people go to the cinema for a couple of hours to relax their jaded nerves. Surely, this does not mean that they want vulgarity or are unable to appreciate the great things. Again and again it has been proved that for the right type of films, there is never a want of spectators.
The Soviet Russian film —The Fall of Berlin—though mainly a propaganda stuff, won popularity, as its technical brilliance is wonderful. The Italian film, the Bicycle Thief, the American film. The Roman Holiday, Jurassic Park, The Titanic, Satyajit Roy’s Pother Panchali or Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Jamin, Rudali, to mention only a few, drew packed houses for weeks on end.
Properly guided, cinemas might have an all-pervasive influence on national life and character. Instead of creating a relish for impossible romance, they might lift our minds from the vulgar to the sublime by projection of the ideals for complete life. They might educate us by representing great scenes from history and biography. They might supplement the knowledge that we derive from books by illustrations taken from life. They might even create fairy-world fantasies. It can be a unique medium of mass education and enlightenment, if efficiently organised.
In all progressive countries, the cinema is used for educational purposes. Films are specially made to present truths of history, geography or sciences in a moving and telling manner. Even Madame Curie’s Radium has been depicted in a cinema.
Thus, abstract lessons of the book-world become concrete realities of a world in cinema that has the sharp emphasis on reality. There are libraries of films, which make a loan of films for VCP shows in colour TV sets to educational and cultural institutions. Further, where illiteracy is high, as it is in India, the cinema might he a splendid aid in our campaign on behalf of adult education.
In order to use the cinema to the higher needs of a nation, there must be a Board of cultured men ready to enforce a high standard of excellence. Educational films for the instruction of the young as well as the illiterate should be encouraged. The life of a great man on film will be more popular than that of the imaginary hero of a melodrama. Then cinema must be made an instrument of culture, a moral force, and a standard of taste.