Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Siddhartha




I remember that it was when I was about fourteen and doing my 9 th class that the Hindi dubbed version of a film purported to be on sex education ran to full mad house in Thpuram. The film was titled “Gupt Gyan”. I was quite scared and even afraid to slip into the theater to see the film as the subject was taboo and anathema. There were many afternoons on the way back from school when I loitered with my heart wrenching, around the Cinema where it was being exhibited. The movie I was told by the lucky and brave ones, (I then realised during from those days that, ‘luck favours the brave”) who managed to sneak in and see the film, that it graphically had many scenes that were revelation , but continued to be only mystery for me.
  But I may have encountered difficulty at the theater gates as the movie was strictly for Adults and one must, the bare minimum have whiskers that tell one is an adult. I did not then have even stray hair on my cheeks that would tell my adulthood.

 “Siddhartha” based on Herman Hesse’s novel was a daring film with brave scenes ( those days) ,with Simi Grewal and Sasi Kapoor.  But the version which I managed to see in the cinema was mauled by the censors.
Those days as folks would know
, no internet, no Google to surf into pornographic sites or Wikipedia manuals on female physiology and anatomy. And those films that were released allegedly with a big Adult content were all flattering to deceive. Sex and anything to do with the subject was fit enough to invite abomination. The only salvaging saviour that provided any insight into the area and life which was still elusive, a shadow and hence inquisitive, were those proscribed magazines that were sold at shady dark street corners. And it was then one day that “The Venus in India” landed in my lap. I may not have devoured another book as I did that novel. But again it was like the film sound track in the All India Radio when you compare to a visual treat of internet and television.But some time ago,when I tried to read the novel again ,I closed the book unable to go beyond a few pages. That is not to decry the novel.

In contrast, I wonder at the burst of deluge that can capably drown an adolescent that prevail now in the form of information of all kind. The question that sometimes I asked myself until a few years ago, when Aravind & Radhika surfed the NET, are they being bludgeoned by materials and information that they cannot fathom and comprehend? Or have their brains evolved with the evolutionary  cycle to absorb  information that come to them which is  at least a decade before  used to entice me when I was their age.

Now, in the times we live, the individual must be getting information about matters that were damned once upon a time. But has the society in the macro sense of the word and the individual, changed to accept white as white and black as white and black?
 No, is the answer. There are still  misplaced moralistic discourses replete with hypocrisy that it stinks like the untended pit of excreta.

I was quite astonished after watching host of Hollywood and English films in the past six months. The extent of explicit portrayal of physical intimacy between man and woman is powerfully brave. Even for a liberal free for all society that exists in much of West. The reality, be it violation or intimacy sinks into the viewer. Thespians that enact the roles,male and female are all renowned and highly acclaimed names. When the plot demands they act, and moralistic barriers hauled up by society is ignored. Justice is done to the story and picturisation does not deceive. Look what Anna Hathaway did for the film “Love and other Drugs”, Noami Watts in “21 Grams”, Kate Winslet in “Revolutionary Road” and many other acclaimed actors. And the lead men actors in these films are no less insipid when it comes to a demanding sequence. In contrast, early last year, I was privy to a few days of shooting of the new avatar of a Malayalam film that in its earlier incarnation more than thirty five years ago kicked up hullabaloo, controversy and raised eyebrows. Though artistic,I see that was an average creation.

I could also have lunch on the sets with the lead actress, who is singled out for powerful and controversial roles that needs bravery and gumption. She is from a respectable family and well educated almost winning the Miss India a few years ago. Speaking to her gave me the feel that this is no chicken hearted actor, but someone who is not afraid to portray the role as justifiably as it should be. And she maintained that professional commitment and dedication what as actor she must, she would and to hell with the squeaking, weak kneed moralistic hypocrites. The film had scenes that required much explicit content and peevishly the director and the producer back tracked. And the movie lost much aesthetic charm it ought to have had.

The very same society and people, who turn tongue in cheek observations, watch these films with perverted fascination and miserably failing to grasp the depth of the work.. It is like the psyche that maligns and disparages female medical nurses while forgetting the respectable, service they render relentlessly.

19 comments:

Balachandran V said...

Having enjoyed a peek of Anna's and Kate's breasts,and many other movies with explicit scenes of love-making, I have wondered, later, whether such depiction had added any value to the movie; in most instances, I have failed to find it. In certain movies, like "The Reader', for instance, such scenes did really enhance the depth and intensity of the theme. But, the majority are just soft-porn by highly paid, well-known actors.

Agreeing with you on certain points, I'd still say that there are cultural differences that determine the extent of exposure in the movies. A little subtlety is equally exciting as is brazen baring of the body! :-)

NRIGirl said...
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NRIGirl said...

For once I am truly confused. Are you talking for it or against it or both or neither?

I believe it is all unneccessary. In olden Tamil movies they showed a blooming flower or kissing parrots to convey it the best; don't you think?

AJai said...

As long as you can take it there's no reason you can't. I think the age criterion is good enough...it doesn't really mean that everyone above 18 is mature or those that aren't 18 yet are immature. But it gives society the idea of what they are looking at. Society needs to understand that it demands a little bit of maturity and understanding to be able to appreciate nudity and love- making. It cannot always be seen as voyeurism.

kavita said...
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kavita said...

I am fine with such scenes as long as they are shot beautifully and are added as the script truly demands them.It takes a great deal of courage and understanding of the work by performer to portray it on screen .But most often the scenes themselves become bigger than the story and the movies they are in .I remember how tv ,magazines,reviews talked about "the scene" from the movie Basic Instinct much more than the movie itself.
I agree with you completely when you say ,"The very same society and people, who turn tongue in cheek observations, watch these films with repulsive fascination and miserably failing to grasp the depth of the work.It is like the psyche that maligns and disparages female medical nurses while forgetting the respectable, service they render relentlessly."

rama said...

I too believe, that such scenes are absolutely not really necessary to be portrayed in movies or TV serials, and I don't believe the directors, writers and the actors who keep saying, that the scenes requires/ we don't mind doing if the story requires/ or if it is artistically taken etc. They all sound very hollow, and they know it.

Makk said...

whatever makers are presenting...

People ( especially Indians, sometimes I feel Indians are most hypocrite people across the globe, what is your take??)if you cant take it. don't watch.

Now is it so difficult to understand?? anyway they will keep it up.

Nice read, and your writing give me a clarity about how to put thoughts.

BK Chowla, said...

Its evolving.
Did you notice that even in TV serials they are getting bolder?
Chalta Hai

Happy Kitten said...

Never felt such scenes add much to the story.. it could be because of the reluctance of the viewer to accept such distractions.. let such scenes be found in movies that are explicitly for them.

as for the malayalee movie that you mentioned.. it was a total crap!

At the rate the internet is trying to "educate" the present generation, soon nothing will be of interest to them! How sad!

anilkurup said...

Hello All,

I tried to recollect the difficulty miserable folks of my generation had in adolescence and through teens vis vis the matters of sex and related things. But , perhaps the subject slid more into the portrayal of intimacy in films.

I asked a good friend of mine (who is a known figure in films)through his fb page and here is what I asked and what he said.

"Explicit portrayal of man woman intimacy in many Hollywood movies? Can the story be told with conviction without scenes that are allegedly called porn, like the movies ,"21 Grams", "love & other drugs","Basic Instincts" etc. Or should ,will the depiction of scenes sans imagination in movies like "Rethinirvedam" convey the story well?"



Sangeeth Sivan-"as long it is tastefully done, have no problems with it - it is a facet of life - the problem with us esp in kerala is our hypocrisy - double stds ..."

The last phrase, "double standards" is the catch and true too in all matters that are allegedly claimed morally lofty.

Meera Sundararajan said...

This was a very interesting piece! When something is forbidden it immediately acquires a certain degree of interest in any person- hence all those films. I think as a society we do not educate our children adequately about sex and they are forced to pick information from all these shady films and books. There is a school of thought that believes that there should be no censorship of any sort. I am not so sure. While I am not being judgemental about those who enact those "bold" scenes what I cannot understand is how do they manage to do so in front of a huge crowd of cameramen, directors etc... I don't which Malayalam actor you were referring to but I remember during my teenage, Malayalam films went through a huge phase of soft porn! It is about time we as a society started talking openly about things that were hitherto discussed only in whispers.

BTW I understand that Siddhartha is going to be re released with those original scenes intact. Apparently society had not evolved enough in the 1970s for those scenes to get passed!

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

There are two distinct trends here. The first is that of the depiction of intimacy either because it is integral to the story or for artistic and creative reasons. The other is to stimulate and arouse erotic feelings, which of course, many might say is a creative reason. But at the end of the day, there is depiction of eroticism that is relevant and aesthetic (even in the adult entertainment segment, if I may add) and that which is not. Both trends are taking bolder and bigger steps nowadays. As much reason to feel good about our evolution as a "civil"ization as there is to mourn our degeneration, isn't it?

anilkurup said...

@ Meerasundarajan,

Certainly society has not evolved. Or should we say that hypocrisy is so paramount that evolution is impossible?
I wonder if Siddhartha even with the original scene intact will appeal much now . If it has the aesthetic value then at least for some it will be a pleasant movie.

anilkurup said...

@Subhorup Dasgupta

Thank you for coming by and commenting.
The degeneration is in the psyche that enjoys things under the bonnet and hoist morality where it is not necessary. Don't you think so?

Daniel said...

I think we have evolved as I never felt like watching Siddhartha even though it's easily accessible :)

Insignia said...

Anil,

It would not be easier to watch a soft porn or an intimate scenes during your adolescent days. Why else were they showing two parrots or flowers brushing with each other? Yet, dont we remember the bold movies Raj kapoor made?

Such intimate scenes is absolute necessary for movies; while others are sheer money making. E.g. ram teri gana maili...I was not even 4 years old! But I remember even to this day crowds thronging the theatre. didnt know then why. Now I know. Was that soft pron bathing under the water fall needed?

Anyway, there are takers hence makers. We are hypocrites as I always say. The same people will blame each other!

anilkurup said...

@ Insignia,

B,I'm not a great fan of RajKapoor when it comes to his portrayals like in Ram teri Ganaga Maili or Satyam Sivam... etc. I wonder if they had the class. Though Zeenat Amman would have been ravishing with her magnificent anatomy in any movie.

It is just hypocrisy that is around. All these self acclaimed puritans would watch movies on paedophilia and porn in their bed rooms.

And what is so impure in a intimate man-woman seen ? The question is if the director has aesthetic sense.

But in my younger days it was mystery. .

The Dumb Macaw said...

I do love to watch sex, be it porn, be it otherwise. may be in some movies, sex is put rather forcibly, but I enjoy the titillation created by it & probably so do most other viewers. Being a young man the wholeness of the subject might not be clear to me, may be I still get swept by the hypnotics of sex but yes, in general also it is the most engrossing subject of all & it sells the most.

So be the cause money making or sheer artistic reason, we watch it. don't we?