For the Fifty-2 Weeks Project, the theme this week asked us to discuss a movie or a documentary we had seen recently. Here’s what I came up with. Though this has nothing to do with photography, I thought I’d share it 🙂
I would not call myself a movie buff. Sure, I do enjoy a good film, and have a few all-time favourites. I am someone who can watch those favourites over and over again, never tiring of them. If a movie truly makes an impact, I might recommend it to a friend or to my mother. I have been brought up in a household where literature, music, current affairs or documentaries take greater importance than films do. If one of us buys a book, it will make its rounds between the different members of the family. If there is a music concert worth listening to, on TV, my grandfather will make phone calls to suggest that the rest of us might want to tune in. Whilst a film on TV would be good entertainment for a lazy afternoon, going to the theatres to catch a new release is a rare event in my family, if ever. That was something I picked up during my college years, thanks to my friends. Even so, when it comes to discussing something that made an impact on me, in my books, a film does not cut it. Films have entertained me, sometimes moved me to momentary tears – a good film or two maybe even made me think, a tiny bit…but, that is about all.
About two weeks ago, I came across a documentary titled I am 20 made by the Films Division of India, in 1967. It is a collection of interviews, with the then youth of India, all born on the 15th of August 1947 (The day India gained independence from British rule). The documentary showcases the dreams and hopes, the aspirations for the future and the fears and frustrations of this group of youngsters. One of the first things that amazed me about this piece of work was the cross-section that it covered. There were 20 year olds from every walk of life and from every imaginable socio-economic bracket in the country. Where you heard from a poor farmer in rural India, who had no time for big things like politics and social change, you also heard from a young man in the air-force, whose patriotism and pride for his country shone bright. If one young woman found the idea of a social life so foreign, the mere mention of it made her dissolve into giggles, then there was an air-hostess who took pride in fact that she and her circle of friends were in the thick of the urban elite socialite life. The gamut of ideologies and thought processes on a variety of topics ranging from politics and education to entertainment and marriage that have been captured are truly mind-boggling.
Watching the documentary gave me a lot to think about. The generation in question is the one my grandparents belong to. Nuances of the points of view that were brought out through this short film can be seen even today in the way my grandparents think or in their view of life. Watching this got me thinking about how stark a difference there is between 20 year olds then and the same age group, now. It seems to me, that youth back in the day were more responsible and more socially aware and involved, than the kids of today. They seem to have clearer visions of what they wanted for their futures to be like, of what they wanted their political system to provide them, and most importantly, what they could do for their country’s development and betterment. I don’t mean to generalise, but we, today’s generation, seem more worried about the brands we wear and use, where and what we eat and the newest movie/music sensation. In 20 year olds these days, I don’t see the seriousness and the sense of direction and planning that seems to shine from each of those youngsters. Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that they were the first generation to grow up in an independent India, and were perpetually hearing of what a struggle life was for their parents, while we are caught up in a storm of globalisation and in a time, when freedom (in all senses) is a given. Maybe the propriety and conduct from those days have watered down, and society has relaxed in every aspect, from the way we speak to the things we wear. Listening to the grammatically proper Hindi and English that that generation spoke, was like listening to a teacher or a professor – it made me acutely aware of the slang and mix-match of languages we addle with these days.
I speak here of seemingly little things, but it is because I am grappling – a mere 19 minutes made such an impact on me that I am having a difficult time putting it in words. I fear that if I write on, I will ramble, going into smaller and smaller things, while being unable to vocalise the impact of the bigger picture. I am sharing below, a link to the documentary. When you watch it, I believe you might see what I did and understand what I am trying to say here. Watching this documentary was like being taken back into a time period, being a part of a generation and understanding their lifestyle, thoughts, ideas and outlooks – a whole world apart from yours and mine.