'Crime films do not come out of a vacuum'

They have a certain political and historical context, say filmmakers

'Crime films do not come out of a vacuum'

A section of moviegoers often complain of a trend in Kannada cinema whereby films are increasingly being made on crime and rowdyism — seemingly glorifiying  crime and violence.

In an open panel discussion on ‘Crime: reel and real’ that brought filmmakers, critics and an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) together at Suchitra Film Society here on Sunday highlighted some important nuances in this often contrarian discourse.

In the opinion of Director K M Chaitanya of Aa Dinagalu fame, there are two ways of understanding life — one through love, another through violence. “Our epics were also centred around crime. For instance, Ramayana had kidnapping and Mahabharata cheating as themes. Understanding life through violence, though often immoral, has a greater affinity for drama and hence finds itself in literature and cinema,” he opined.

Chaitanya recalled that his father, K Maralusiddappa, a prominent litterateur of Kannada, was upset with him for making Aa Dinagalu which he criticised as conveying an anti-humanism message. “In his view, the filmmakers had sympathised with the perpetrators of a barbaric murder who easily went unpunished as the system was helpless against them,” Chaitanya said..

‘Against  narrative’

According to noted film critic M K Raghavendra, crime films do not come out of a vacuum, but have a certain political and historical context. The rise of Kannada films centred around rowdyism in Bangalore in the first decade of this century also had a particular political context, he observed.

“The 2000s saw the IT boom which did not benefit the Kannada-speaking populace of the City much. S M Krishna, the then chief minister, tried hard to transform Bangalore into a Singapore and his endeavour was seen as being against the sons of the soil. There was a spate of encounter killings in the City to make it safer.”

These films, centred around rowdyism, offered resistance to the dominant narrative of the time, Raghavendra stressed. But the trend has changed, he added. The ferocity of such films as Jogi and Duniya has given way to moderation in the latest Kaddipudi, he pointed out, reading it as the stabilising of the IT industry in the City and the course correction it did from 2008 onwards.

Chalapathi N, ACP (Organised Crime Wing) with the Central Crime Branch (CCB) who solved the Dandupalya murder case and based on whose experience a film of the same name was made, remarked that from his experience of around 30 years as a police officer, he could easily say that what films showed of crime was not even five per cent of the violence and crime which exists in society.

“Dandupalya is a very diluted version of the barbarity of the crimes the gang committed as it was very difficult for a sensitive form of art to capture that,” he said.

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