Film is a means of creative expression. It performs the functions of mass media. Such as information, education, entertainment and transmission of culture. Films are widely popular and their audio visual nature provides them a pervasive power for social influence.
Therefore, they have the potential to play an important role as a medium of entertainment, information and education and as a catalyst for social change. Films are popular because they entertain.
They are a facet of a mass culture and mass art. They generate mass mediated culture arising from elite, folk, popular or mass origins.
Almost every person of the society has participated in the activity of going to cinema hall and enjoying a film. According to Jovett and Linton, “obviously there is still something unique and inherently appealing about going to the movies”, and this is clearly different from other mass media experiences”. (1989: 89).
The social institution of movie going is firmly established in our society and movies have played an important part as one of the factors contributing to the dramatic changes which have taken place in the last 50 years in the way we live and also in how we perceive the world around us.
They have provided us not only with entertainment, but also with ideas, and it would be difficult to conceive of our society without them.
The films take as their starting point those aspects of society with which we have become familiar. They create twist plots and use other narrative devices which infuse the story with sufficient new elements to attract an audience.
Films draw heavily from reality, portraying situations that have resemblance to the everyday stresses and aspirations of viewers’ lives. The movies recognize the link between their lives and films in both general and specific terms.
The ease of comprehension helps the viewer to assume the role of the characters and to identify with them quickly and effectively. Films appeal to their primary emotions and sentiments. Films provide photographic realism, vivid visual presentation in which the images are already fully established, easily identified and followed.
Melodrama in films draws suppressed fears and desires into a public realm, but suggests personal solutions. The viewers are active participants in the construction of the image that both represents present reality and allows them to escape as future fantasy.
Tudar (1969), pointed out that the darkened theatre, combined with the heightened intensity of the message stimuli, the increased sense of social isolation that it creates, and the relaxed posture of the movie viewer make the message more emotionally potent.
Thus, films leave lasting impression of the message. For example, films like Mother India, Naya Duar, Awara have their message still fresh in the minds of the people.
The films generate popular culture and create ‘culture waves. Such as in fashions styles and mannerisms. Moreover, by revolving the film stories and characters around the traditional ideas and role stereotypes, they foster the role stereotypes in the society in general.
Some of the films like ‘Bhigi Palkein,’ ‘Subah’, ‘Mrutyudand’ did try to show breaking role stereotypes and they were successful in conveying the message.
Roberge (1984) feels, “while cinema is acknowledged as a disseminator of popular culture, it is not described as, a “cultivator” but simply a ‘disseminator’ of culture. The contributory role of the cinema in cultivating and shaping culture is not acknowledged and it is perceived as a mere instrument or channel”.
This implies that the cultural quality of cinema should be of good standard”. The cinema has always done a remarkable job in creating a type of visual public ‘consensus’.
Mass production and distribution of message systems transform selected private perspectives into broad public perspectives and brings mass public into existence.
Films combine visuals, movement, sound, theatre, music all in one. Therefore, they are able to communicate effectively and create impact which cannot be created by any other media. It is due to this characteristic of films; masses from all levels are attracted to go to cinema.
Due to reality element, films have psychological impact on people. The extent of reality that can be presented through films is far greater than television or any other medium. Their language is universal and this helps in breaking any social or cultural barriers.
Therefore, media experts and development communicators feel that films can prove to be the most effective mass medium in a country like India where literacy is low and people cannot afford other media such as print or television due to economic reasons.
Many people from lower economic status do not mind spending for films as it is the popular form of entertainment. Feature films are produced in several Indian languages. They provide a viable alternative to the people in terms of entertainment.
Since it is a powerful audio visual medium, social, cultural, political, communal problems can be projected well before the masses. Despite the growth of television and availability of other means of entertainment, films have remained the most popular medium of entertainment for the masses which is a basic necessity.
Thus, films can work as a social monitor. Films have been effective in projecting social evils, for example, the film ‘Yeh Aag Kub Bujegi’ well presented the evil of dowry, corrupt politicians in film like ‘Inquilabb’ and ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ and so on.
Films have been exposing under world elements, black marketeers, bureaucrats, unemployment problem and so on.
According to Malhan, “Through characterization, demonstration and depiction of scenes and situations, it can even directly help to sell the concepts and norms of national or emotional integration,, dignity of labour, the bare-foot doctor or engineer, an understanding spouse and the pulls of extra-marital relations.”
They can stimulate values of good life and citizenship as also participatory virtues of developmental activities.
Each genera of film is capable of creating impact on the masses. For example, comedy and hilarious movies entertain people and relax them. Social or tragic movies provide outlet to the emotions of the viewers.
India has a history of hundred years of cinema. Indian films have been recognized nationally and internationally. Films in India have not only remained the medium of entertainment but film making has emerged as a major art form which is a creative expression of the film makers or artists.