Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Dumbing down...

Whenever I watch a hindi movie, or discuss cricket with my office colleagues, I am faced with what I like to call "dumbing down the topic".

In other words, I find that subtleties are conspicuous by their absence.
Consider a hindi movie: imagine a scene where a character tries to express surprise, horror, anger etc. Then, get back to normal life. The next time a friend gets angry, or surprised, try to note their expression: you will understand what I am saying.
There is such a thing as understatement. The bulk of our movies refuse to acknowledge that fact. Every emotion, every dialogue, every act is exaggerated. While this seems perfectly harmless, what it, in fact, does is that it takes away that "real life factor". When you are trying to tell a story about ordinary human beings (as opposed to super humans), you are trying to get the audience to identify with the characters. You want the audience to feel that they have met this character (or someone resembling this character) in their lives. You want the audience to say: "yes, this is exactly how xyz would react" or "this is exactly how my friend would talk" etc. This gets the audience involved in the story. They are not watching the movie from an outsider perspective: they are part of the action; they start to sympathize with such-and-such character and start to hate such-and-such character. As a director, you have set the platform from where you can run the plot.
The same thing happens when we discuss cricket. Maybe, I am exaggerating. Maybe, this happens only in my circle. I feel that people pass grand statements with all the subtleties removed. I feel this has partly to do with the kind of cricket commentary that we hear on TV. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that commentators from the sub-continent tend to describe what we used to call "aankhon dekha haal" in All India Radio parlance. They just describe what is happening on the ground. There is no word on the tactics being followed; there is no word on why a particular shot went wrong or why a particular bowler is consistently bowling wides down the leg-side. I feel, further, that commentators from Australia, England, West Indies etc do a better job with such things.
Now, why is that ?

Is this because we, as a nation, abhor subtleties ? Do we celebrate exaggerated emotions ? Do we, culturally, lack the ability to dissect things ?

What do you think ?