Movies as media of change

Closer to reality

Candid Camera: Some movies mirror realities of societies across the world.

It takes great courage to capture something that is wrong and show it to the world, and this past week has been a real eye opener for me in that respect.

Khuda Kay Liye, a Pakistani movie, was the beginning of what was to be a long and disturbing weekend. The story of this film revolves around two brothers and a girl. The two brothers come from a family with a modern outlook towards life and both are excellent musicians. The younger brother gets sucked into the mullah’s propaganda that Islam does not allow anyone to pursue music or wear good clothes or even shave. While this transition is taking place, the story shifts to England where the girl who belongs to a Pakistani family (but is now a British citizen), falls in love with a British national. Her father tricks her and takes her back to Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the younger brother who is now a fully brain-washed jihadi, conspires with the girl’s father and forcibly marries the girl and takes her away to a remote village in Afghanistan from where she has no means of escape. Meanwhile, the elder brother comes to the US to pursue music, falls in love with an American and they get married. And then, on the unfortunate day of 9/11, WTC is attacked. The secret services forcibly take him away to a detention centre where he is tortured in the most inhumane ways that you could possibly imagine. He is forced to confess that he has links with terror organisations and that he planned the WTC attack. Ultimately, he is beaten up until he loses his sanity and is left paralysed for life.

The second movie was The Stoning of Soraya M. This is the story of a couple in an Iranian village. This couple has two sons and two daughters and yet the husband falls in love with a 14-year-old girl who is younger than his sons. He demands a talaq from his wife and even influences his sons to beat up their mother mercilessly. She demands an alimony for herself and her daughters which, he refuses. He conspires with the village mullah (religious man) and spreads a rumour that his wife was sleeping with another man.

In Iran, all you need are two witnesses to testify and the woman has no chance to defend herself and she is pronounced guilty. The witnesses are set up and the village mayor pronounces her guilty of ‘infidelity’. Within an hour of the conspiracy being hatched, her hands are tied and she is buried waist deep in the ground. Her father, husband and sons stone her to death. With great joy and satisfaction, they hurl stones at her, aiming on her head and face while she cries out in pain and agony. Her pleas for mercy go in vain as her last breath is sucked out. The village celebrates the stoning and a carnival is set up after this brutality.

The third was a documentary by Natgeo, Inside North Korea. North Korea is a country about which few claim to know. A society which does not allow any foreigner to step in, which has a population of 23 million and yet has the fourth largest army in the world with more than two million soldiers. A secret team which poses as a part of a medical team sneaks into this fortress to capture life inside North Korea. I was shocked to see the tyranny with which dictator Kim Jong-il, son of Kim — II Sung, rules with an iron fist.

It is a federal crime to take a picture of Kim Jong-il’s statue or portrait if it is taken from below or if you do not take it properly. All media is controlled by the state and no one has the right to speak out. Death is the penalty for complaining even about a matter like price rise.

Concentration camps exist in large numbers where people are even today mercilessly killed for petty reasons. Every single citizen sings praises of Kim Jong-il for any good happening and blames the west for anything bad.

A good example was when a doctor from Nepal cures about 10,000 people who were  blind due to cataract. A massive function is organised where each person thanks Kim Jong-il  for curing them. A few break down while a few dance in joy at the fact that they can now see him again. Is this real love towards him or fear? This remains a mystery.

Even to this day, people are trying to escape into South Korea or China. The family members of the person who escapes are executed. This includes his parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins. Children are taught in schools that Kim Jong-il comes before god. Medical conditions are pitiable and people die in large numbers due to ailments like malaria and yet not one person complains.

All these movies shook me, making me wonder how evil can mankind get? Are we any better than animals? We talk about society being more open in its outlook and fair now.

What we are talking about is a  minuscule part of the population while the rest still remain under the cloud of what I would call ‘convenience politics’. Religion and state laws are bent according to the convenience of the few in control of the state of affairs and they are termed as ‘just’. 

The United Nations has divisions like the UNICEF, but how many children get their rights? Human rights are a set of fundamental rights that each government has to offer its citizens, like the ‘right to livelihood’, ‘right to equality’, ‘right to legal system access’, and the like. But it is people who are supposed to be offering these rights who tamper with it the most, denying the common man his rights. Something radical needs to happen and the medium of movies has to lead the way.

Movies are compelling and go a long way in influencing our train of thoughts. We should use it carefully but effectively to create awareness so that we truly achieve the dream of a ‘happy mankind’.

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