The Responsible Creativity
by Bhoomika S. Kumar
The Responsible Creativity : Navigating the Fine Line Between Creativity and Social Impact
In the vast tapestry of cinema, the question of creative freedom versus societal responsibility has never been more relevant. As audiences worldwide absorb the visual narratives presented by filmmakers, the impact of movies glorifying domestic violence, slut-shaming, and the objectification of women is a critical concern that demands our attention.
The power of cinema as a cultural influencer cannot be overstated. At a time when people not only mimic the punch lines and styles of characters from movies but also internalize the attitudes and behaviours they witness, filmmakers hold a profound responsibility. Freedom of speech and expression, often celebrated as a fundamental right for directors, requires a delicate balance when it comes to depicting sensitive issues that can shape societal norms.
A troubling trend has emerged in certain films that, instead of challenging harmful stereotypes, perpetuate and even glamorize destructive behaviors. Movies such as “Animal” and “Arjun Reddy” directed by Sanjeev Reddy Vanga depict domestic violence as a symbol of passion and control, romanticizing a grave issue that affects countless lives. This normalization contributes to a desensitization that can have far-reaching consequences in society.
Likewise, the portrayal of women as sex slaves with no voice or mind of their own and the practice of slut-shaming are disturbingly prevalent in some films and used lavishly in the name of “light humour”. The troubling reality is that misogyny has, for some, become an entertaining spectacle, blurring the line between fiction and reality.
The crux of the matter lies in the interpretation of creative freedom for directors. While filmmakers are entitled to explore dark and uncomfortable themes, they must do so with an acute awareness of the societal impact their creations may have. Freedom of speech should not be wielded as a shield to perpetuate harmful ideologies; instead, it should be a tool for social progress and enlightenment.
However, it is possible to address these negative traits within the framework of responsible storytelling. Movies such as "Breaking Chains" and "Redemption Stories" tackle domestic violence without glorifying it, shedding light on its devastating effects and promoting empathy and understanding. Similarly, narratives that explore the struggles of women without succumbing to slut-shaming can empower audiences by fostering a sense of resilience and breaking down harmful stereotypes.
While freedom of speech and expression is a cornerstone of democratic societies, it is crucial to consider the impact that these expressions have on the collective consciousness. The interpretation of creative freedom should not be a shield for perpetuating harmful ideologies. Instead, filmmakers can exercise their creativity responsibly by portraying negative traits without glorifying them.
For example, a movie could address domestic violence and assault on women without shaming her for her choice of clothing irrespective of the age by depicting its damaging consequences on individuals and society, encouraging dialogue and awareness. Rather than slut-shaming and reducing them into mere puppets with no voice of their own, a film could explore the journey of a woman overcoming societal judgments and embracing her individuality. By presenting negative traits in a critical light, filmmakers can contribute to societal reflection and progress.
In the dynamic landscape of Tamil cinema, "Chittha" emerges as a powerful testament to the potential of cinema to address the same with grace and sensitivity. Directed by an adept team, the film not only captivates audiences with its compelling narrative but also manages to navigate a delicate subject matter with finesse, leaving an indelible impact on its viewers.
What sets “Chittha” apart is its nuanced exploration of complex themes, handling them with a depth of understanding and compassion that is both commendable and refreshing. The film delves into issues that are often swept under the rug, tackling them with a level of sensitivity that promotes awareness without sensationalizing or glorifying the darker aspects of human behavior. The same could be said for the controversial movie “Thappad” directed by Mr Anubhav Sinha. The mere existence of a section of viewers who could not grasp the ‘audacity’ of a woman to walk away at the first instance of domestic abuse speaks volumes of how normalized this culture has become.
In stark contrast, movies like “Arjun Reddy” and “Animal”, directed by Sanjeev Reddy Vanga, stands as a cautionary tale of how not to approach such sensitive subjects.
“Chittha” achieves its positive influence through its well-crafted characters and a narrative that unfolds with genuine emotion. The film offers a platform for open dialogue, challenging societal norms without resorting to shock value. The directors of “Chittha” have demonstrated a deep understanding of the responsibility that comes with their creative freedom, presenting a story that is not just entertaining but also socially impactful.
“Thappad”, directed by Anubhav Sinha, stands out as an another powerful and thought-provoking film that takes a bold stance on domestic violence. In contrast to some films that tend to romanticize or trivialize such serious issues, “Thappad” addresses the topic with sensitivity and realism.
The movie, through its compelling narrative, highlights the significance of consent, agency, and individual choices, particularly focusing on the central theme of a woman's right to walk away from an abusive relationship. Taapsee Pannu's portrayal of the protagonist, Amrita, adds depth and authenticity to the character, making it relatable for many in the audience.
What sets “Thappad” apart is its refusal to adhere to conventional Bollywood norms that might romanticize toxic relationships or portray them as passionate love stories. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of recognizing and challenging societal expectations that often undermine the gravity of domestic violence. The film encourages viewers to question the prevailing mindset and reevaluate their perspectives on relationships.
“Thappad” provides a refreshing alternative by promoting healthier relationships and advocating for self-respect. It sends a positive message by urging individuals, especially women, to stand up against any form of abuse, regardless of societal norms or expectations.
The movie challenges the traditional notions of an “alpha male” by showcasing strength in character rather than dominance or aggression. In doing so, it contributes to reshaping societal attitudes toward relationships and fosters a more positive and empowering outlook.
“Chittha” stands as a shining example of how cinema can be a force for positive change addressing challenging topics with sincerity and insight. It serves as a reminder that filmmakers have the power to shape societal attitudes responsibly and constructively. In a world where storytelling plays a pivotal role in shaping perceptions, these movies set a commendable standard, proving that cinematic excellence can coexist with social responsibility.
In contrast, "Animal" seems to revel in the shock factor, with gratuitous scenes that exploit sensitive issues rather than addressing them with the necessary gravitas. The film falls short of offering any constructive commentary on the societal problems it attempts to depict, leaving audiences questioning the ethical considerations behind its production.
In conclusion, the responsibility of filmmakers extends beyond the pursuit of creative expression. Cinema, as a cultural force, shapes societal perceptions and attitudes, and directors should approach their craft with a mindful understanding of this influence. By addressing negative traits without glorification, filmmakers can exercise their true creative freedom — one that embraces responsibility, challenges societal norms, and contributes to a more enlightened and empathetic world. It's time for the industry to reflect on the impact of its creations and recognize the potential for positive change within the art of storytelling. ***