Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ahead of time or catching up with it?

I was watching "Sudigundaalu" today. For those uninitiated in Telugu, this is an old movie, literally meaning "Whirlpools". And in my opinion this movie defines Progressive Cinema.

I cannot go into raptures without giving you a brief outline of the movie anyway. So here goes.

The story's 'bout a lawyer who's little boy (the apple of his e and light of his l)gets murdered at the hand of two teenagers. The lawyer dad (essayed brilliantly by Akkineni Nageshwar Rao) instead of tearing the two kids apart limb by limb, decides to defend them in the court of law. In the interrogation, it is revealed that the couple murdered the hapless boy for 'fun'. Everyone is soon treated to the ghar ka maahol of the two teenagers.

The girl's parents have no definition of immoral behaviour. Her mom's got a BF and her dad, a GF, so what's all the fuss about? She follows her parents' modus operandi faithfully by 'being friendly' with one chap, 'liking' another, 'loving' a third and 'marrying' a fourth.

The guy's father on the other hand, is an old politico who consciously wants to put society on the road to progress, and in the process puts his family on the road to perdition. He marries a young girl with the sole objective of providing her with a roof over her head, conveniently ignoring a young woman's many other, and maybe more vital needs. The young wife is the same age as her husband's son, leading to some very confusing, frustrating and awkward feelings in their respective bosoms. The wife takes solace in reading A-rated novels to satisfy her galloping senses while her 'son' steals the same books to let his imagination soar into forbidden lands.

The lawyer points out that with magazines painting every figure with a sexual brush, it is not surprising that children are crossing tracks to enter unmanned territories, and that futures that could and should be rosy and fruitful are constantly under seige by monsters of modern society. And this was a 1960s movie for god's sake!

What is thought-provoking is, that though the movie came out in the 60s, its relevance is truer for today than any other. With movies glorifying violence and popping cleavages always at hand and within reach of 1st-graders even, which child will not be influenced? I know a kindergarten kid who closes her mom's eyes when a smooching scene comes up on TV. And this was supposed to be a joke! Ugh. I sometimes wonder how is it that people have children. I mean, the responsibility of shaping them up to herald and be part of a bright future is so mind-numbingly awesome! Not to mention, terrifying.

Sudigundaalu captured the essence of modern Indian society so well, that it cannot be bracketed as a bygone movie. Its message is profound, eternal and valid for the rest of time.