Sometime I come across some silly, weird random articles in the newspapers that evoke a certain reaction which needs venting. Twitter and Facebook are the most common tools for this kind of venting. Now there have been numerous example when a 140 character tweet is unable to communicate what we actually wanted to say or fails to convey the tone and tenor of our remarks. I almost posted a reaction on Facebook but then I felt a lot needs to be said before I react and took to the blog. I have read many news clippings where a twitter or Facebook feed has had massive and often unpleasant reaction.
Long time back when I was growing up in India, reading the newspaper or listening to the news was almost a community activity. Partly because there were only a few people in the community who could read or had a radio set or a television set and a lot of people huddled together to get the news form these few sources. People could listen to the news there and react in whatever manner they wanted to and it was all over …there and then …over. Even if you reacted unfavorably , it was okay because you would be surrounded by people from your own community who knew you well enough to let you in their house to share the space around the radio or the TV…all in all a safe environment for venting I would say.
With social media , our words have a far reaching and often very public impact, although we tend to be somewhat careless about the fact, more than we should be. A tweet can be read by anyone in the public, at any time, and the reaction can be less than seasoned with grace and without the actual understanding of the person behind those words. So being wary is the order of the day …at least for me. Having explained myself at length, I would now get on to the random news and my random reaction to it.
I recently read a news report on a Bollywood movie scheduled to be released in India in a few days. According to this news report, “A petition filed against the film (ram-leela) accused it of hurting religious sentiments and also said that, since the term Ram Leela is associated with Lord Ram, movie-goers would expect to be watching a religious film.” As a result the Delhi high court, the report says, issued a stay on the release of the said movie and forced its producers/director to change the name and issue a clarification.Now I am in no way connected to the said movie, but I felt bad for the makers of this movie. firstly, I am surprised that it was accepted in the court that the petitioner successfully represented the interest of the Hindu community in Delhi who are in millions in number. Additionally , the justice system in India that usually works at snail pace, swept in with its verdict at an amazing pace.
We live in the so called information age so much so that information is being equated with power. Information on many subjects is easier to access than ever before. Most of all education and information to raise awareness is supposed to be among the most powerful tools available in a fight against many social evils and to bring about change. Don’t get me wrong , I am all for taking a stand especially when it comes to distortion of facts and reality and I am glad that there are people who are willing to take away time from their busy lives to take a stand in the interest of common good. Somebody once suggested we have to choose our battles wisely and this one is particular doesn’t look like that.
In my opinion a big budget movie like the one in question above spares little expense in marketing so much so that hardly any other campaign for information could surpass it in terms of its reach in a small frame of time and the money spent. So if there is a chance that even with so many promotional advertisements and posters the viewers can remain unaware about the type of movie this is going to be (a commercial romantic potboiler rather than being a story about Deity of Ram) then it lends itself to some very bleak outcomes.
For instance effectiveness of any social campaign would seriously need to be rethought. What Bollywood spends in three months of promotional activity is far greater than what some other charities and organizations spend in the course of a year. They would need to rethink if they are reaching the right people ? is the right message getting across? are there are sections of leadership that may raise an objection to the message? Even with the best of marketing minds chance of failure would need to be upped because one group’s objection could become their undoing.
Secondly, it makes me feel sad for my people whose intelligence and understanding is being underestimated by its so called leaders or self appointed representatives. The assumption that common people would make their decision to watch a movie just based on its title and nothing beyond it is baffling. That they would ignore all the other related information being relayed to them on media and still expect to watch a religious movie implies that misleading the public is so easy.
I think a lot of aspiring politicians and leaders enter into politics with this assumption in mind. One look at the political debates happening in the country in preparation for assembly election next year seems to confirm this attitude. It is about hosting the biggest rallies, getting large numbers of crowds & making sensational statements, one liners that would grab the headlines the next day rather than discussing country’s larger issues- poverty, education , balancing the budget, and its real economic future. But that is a discussion best had with dad over a cup of tea and not in the full public view.