We Indians are extremely proud of our ancient culture but know 0 about it. We have strayed a long way from what our ancestors did and any call for introspection is treated as an attack. We are an extremely proud bunch who don’t think that we need to change. Not even a bit. We are a bunch of narcissists.
For this hypocrisy, I blame India’s mainstream media. Let us take a closer look at the main pillars of Indian media: News Channels, Bollywood & the TV industry.
Back in 2006, Indian news media experienced something, they didn’t know at the time, was a pot of gold. TimesNow began the NewsHour Debate featuring Arnab Goswami. Initially what seemed to be a promising endeavour in bringing out truth and justice, eventually lost its moral lustre and became as moral as the MLAs they were interviewing.
Arnab Goswami is infamous now, through several memes, for inviting guests and verbally abusing them on his show. The reason it captivates many viewers is because Indians viewers adore their precious soap-operas; and spiking the news with a little masala induces the same kind of catharsis.
Now I feel this formula is very detrimental to the culture as it implies that the viewers have to choose a side. You can be either on the winning side or the losing side. And trust me, Arnab is always on the winning side. Not for his sharp wit or his exemplary debating skills, but because of his high-pitched screams that override whatever his opponents say. As the YouTuber, Shwetabh Gangwar, rightly said in one of his podcast episodes, “There is no concept of ‘let’s agree to disagree’”. It is an ego-fuelled battle that affects the viewers in very dangerous ways. With this my-way-or-the-highway mentality, Arnab is known to spread his rightist propaganda.
It is now common for almost all news channels to follow this format, to compete for views. The Indian masses are very gullible and they know exactly how to play them.
After an eternity of releasing BS, Bollywood was finally on the right path, addressing various inherent societal issues through films like Thappad, Tamasha, Kapoor & Sons, Dil Dhadakne Do etc. But the news channels were quick to discredit the industry through various allegations following Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
Just because Bollywood currently makes some relevant and impactful movies does not mean it was ALWAYS conscious. For decades together, Bollywood movies have normalized rape & racism, discredited mental health and has promoted mysogyny.
YouTuber, Anmol Jamwal from Tried&Refused Productions has a Matlab Kuch Bhi series where he shares bizarre plot points and totally bigoted scenes from Bollywood movies. A scene that baffles me is from Varun Dhawan’s Judwaa 2, where his character comes across some Jamaican folk in a tunnel, who try to mug him. He reacts in a 100% cringe way by speaking in Jamaican Creole and doing a junglee dance, finally escaping from the situation.
This kind of cinema has been going on for a while and has deeply impacted modern Indian culture in negative ways. At least, with OTT platforms, there is a push for better cinema to be produced. I do believe that if Bollywood addresses the right kind of issues, giving up profits for once; it will impact people in the right ways. We Indians, are absolute admirers of our film stars and hold them to a very high pedestal. Hence any change that begins with Bollywood will be a change that will diffuse into society faster.
I have a huge problem with Indian television soap operas. They are the most boring and dull things I have ever seen. Apart from having bland and absolutely bizarre storylines, they display some seriously messed up subliminal messages.
A YouTuber, Jaya Pathak, accurately points out that the most common theme in every soap opera is: A rich entitled “businessman” meeting a poor “commoner” girl and getting married to her. The girl is a damsel who needs to be supported by the guy, and is the punching bag of the Saasu Maa. Eventually, over time, she gets empowered by the mother-in-law and her husband and is then permitted to follow her mediocre dreams. The concept of a corporate, working woman is non-existent and they end up as being the ‘vamps’.
But again OTT platforms have created a need for better quality content. Has that completely stopped the industry, though, from putting out cringe-worthy and regressive content ? Short answer, No. The latest pieces of BS that was thrown to the Indian (and Global) audiences were Indian Matchmaking and Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives.
We have a long way to go and we need to start somewhere. Culture is developed from the media we consume and if we don’t fix the media, we will soon turn into a divided country filled with narcissists and bigots.
But that’s just my opinion. Please share what you think in the comments.