Supersition: TV & Cinema

R.L.Stine or RGV, both strike a chord with the audience when it comes to Horror genre. The thought-provoking imagery, the dreadfully dressed ghosts with possibly a crimson cloak flying about, and sparkling, mighty fangs, is an unnerving sight- for the readers and the viewers. We may or may not believe in these ghost and ghouls but we find it amusing to watch the farce they put up, making the victim go round and round.

For India, which has always been tied up with shackles of culture and traditions, myths and mythology, has found it difficult to come out of the dark shadows of supersitions looming over the environment. Narendra Achyut Dabholkar who kickstarted the anti-supersition movement in Maharashtra, was unfortunately shot to death only a few days ago, his death led to mass protests and called for Bandhs to mourn the death of an Indian rationalist.

After having given up his profession as a doctor, Dabholkar had chosen to serve the society, and he majorly worked against the tantriks, mantriks and Godmen who fool the public. He, alongwith a few others worked restlessly for the eradication of the word ‘supersition’ from the society. Putting forth an ordinance to get an Anti-supersition law enacted was just another step for him. And even after being tabled seven times in the State Assembly, when the bill was not passed, Dabholkar accused the CM of negligence. It is no wonder that the bill was staged and passed immediately after Dabholkar’s death. Although the bill was accepted in the State Assembly, it needs support of the Parliament to become a law. Will it receive that support or not, only time will tell. Was Dabholkar’s death a political gambit or not, the answer rests in the cop investigation. But what effect the bill will have on TV & Cinema, has certainly worried the industry personnels.

The Horror genre which was pioneered by Ramsay Brothers (Veerana, Purana Mandir, Bandh Darwaza) was brought forth in the new-age by filmmakers like Ram Gopal Varma (Raat, Bhoot), Vishesh films (Junoon, Saaya, Raaz), Vikram Bhatt (Haunted, Horror Story), Kannan Iyer (Ek Thi Daayan) and Pawan Kriplani (Ragini MMS). To do away with these films which deal with the paranormal world, ghosts and gore, is sure going to be impossible for them(filmmakers). Without mantriks and tantriks, shows like “Kaal, Kapaal, Mahakaal” or “Mano Ya Na Mano” will hold no value. Shows like “Fear Files” which are based on real life stories will face a glitch as it will no more be viewed owing to the lack of authenticity. If the law was implemented a century ago, perhaps there would be no ghosts-under-my-bed thoughts which were usually evoked by the spooky series like Aahat, Anhonee and X-Zone. If the law was implemented a century ago, the news channels wouldn’t mint money or waste the camera reel by showing “special report” on tantar-mantar.

Although the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) sets codes that curb the glorification of myths, supersitions and occult on any entertainment medium, how will the acceptance of the bill and enactment of the law, further stall the entertainment, is a question filmmakers are pondering about. The genre which was raised at par with other genres will soon see its downfall. Never again will any filmmaker announce a prize sum of lakhs or even crores for those who dared to watch his horror film alone, ’cause it’ll just be a film without any horror. Gory ghosts will remain a memory. Science will override superstition, hence blurring the lines between good and evil, making everything look mechanic. A significant change will be seen in the society, alright, but imposing this law on TV & Cinema will cast a shadow on creative thinking of filmmakers.

TV & Cinema that are the reflectors of society and a vehicle for change do need to pacify the glorification of myth. Dabholkar’s work for the betterment of the society is lauded, and we believe that the youth will certainly follow in his footsteps. But how will any law put a hold on an individual’s beliefs is a debatable question.

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