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Just Entertainment?

Updated: May 1

By Kamalini Ramesh

Recently, we debated a notion in English class- Films are purely for entertainment, and when the teacher asked for speakers ‘for’ the notion, a meagre number of hands went up. The strong opposition to the idea prompted me to dig for the root of this reasoning.

Children Watching Movie

Those who supported the notion mainly claimed that every film had an element of exaggeration and glorification and hence films must be taken only at face value. However, the flaw in this argument is that an exaggerated and slightly creative account creates a strong impact. A retelling of lived experiences in this manner is the most effective way of inspiring the audience. The inflation of numbers, however, should not be used to further stories that can serve as political propaganda. 

The Kerala Story which was released last year inflated numbers so much that the audience couldn’t doubt its authenticity. It is based on a propaganda technique introduced by Joseph Goebbels in the Nazi regime of Germany where facts were blown so out of proportion that the audience simply believed they could not be falsified.

Research shows that movies can significantly improve a person’s mood, helping their mental health. However, they can have exactly the opposite effect if they show brutality on screen. Though researchers have only recently begun exploring the use of movies as a form of therapy, there have been significant breakthroughs. 

Studies show that discussing superhero movies allowed young people diagnosed with schizophrenia to find strength and meaning in the difficulties they face. Given these benefits, filmmakers must consciously choose to produce films that are not purely meant for entertainment but also are thought-provoking.

Often films made to educate society such as female-centric films and films that seek to empower marginalised communities mislead people. Especially in the case of feminism, consumption of alcohol and indulgence in potentially harmful activities is depicted as something empowered women would do. Pseudo-feminist notions such as this can be disastrous for society. 

Some of the most well-loved movies of the 21st century such as ‘Chennai Express’ misrepresent cultures. People are led to believe in stereotypes, even though they are portrayed hilariously. Films register in people’s minds, and it can create an inclination to compartmentalise communities.

Films are one of the most powerful mediums of art as they combine audio and visual elements to assault the senses. Those who produce films wield the power to sway entire societies and used in the right way can put us on the path to a better future.

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