The Theatre Wolves: When will we unlearn?

In this era of foldable smartphones and portable home theatres, the culture of watching cinema in theatres have shifted to a visual culture of mobile theatres which has increased importance for the individual voyeur. I specifically used the term voyeur to specify that crowd amongst us who enjoy watching abusive adult videos and films in the faint light of the phone screen at night. The irony is that they (I cannot use ‘they’, as many of us belong to this group), are flag bearers of tradition, in broad daylight.

Voyeurs of adult cinema mostly depend on their own personal phones and laptops to have a ‘good’ night. They never feel awful watching such hard porn while the same people cringe and howl during kissing scenes, in theatres. So, what is the root of the problem? Is it the fact that they are in a group and have to maintain their image of being Indian at heart, which is why they are howling and protesting against such scenes. When they watch it alone not only do they not howl, but also they try to be as silent as possible.

Why this difference in perceiving essentially the same thing? The most obvious answer is that may be, in theatres, we are a group, so we have to be aware and vigilant of our social image. So who is to change here. Should we shift from the idea of cinema theatres as such or should we unlearn certain ideologies and be more aware of our social space, using it without being intruders to others? The question has to be answered by us, the solution has to come from us.

Learning starts from home

What can possibly be the solution? Every time a rape case ensues (which is a very common every day thing in our country now), all the discussions and debates has surely lead to one core catalyst – childhood and parenting problem. Not only rapists, all criminals and people with a criminal bent of mind is believed and most of time, proved to have issues with their own self and their parents. It is true.

Learning starts from home. What is done is done. Nothing can change any of our fully grown adulterated minds. The solution is to take up a futuristic approach – to bring up our children, boys and girls, educating them regarding everything they need and need not know (as the society thinks). Let them grow by themselves, all we have to do is be a support for them to becomes blooming jasmine creepers. Tell your 12 year old about puberty, make her aware of her own body, the changes that will happen. Educate him and her about physical relationship, gender dichotomies, about the queer community, and the most basic thing – to respect another person’s individual space, to perceive art as art, to understand the aesthetics of lovemaking in cinema and literature. Please do not neglect them when they ask the alpha question “mom, how was I born?”. Most of our parents, especially Malayali parents might have told us that we came from their belly button, or the second child was at the tip of her mother’s toes, and so forth.

Thiruchelvan and Indira of Kannathil Muthamittaal

The kind of parenthood we need today is of Thiruchelvan and Indira (Mani Ratnam’s Kannathil Muthamittal). Come what may, they decided they will reveal to Amutha the secret of her birth, despite Indra’s father’s constant protests that little Amutha will be shattered when she realises that she is not their biological child. Indra, as a mother, could continue to be her mother. She wanted Amutha to know and be aware of her cultural, social, moral responsibility to her native and her own mother. It is Thiruchelavan’s respect for his little girl Amutha which is reflected when he reveals that her mother is M D Shyama. They ensure she can take it down well, and is a constant support to her, succumbing to her wish to see her mother in such dire circumstance. Thiru and Indra were futuristic parents who wanted their child to be aware and alive to each moment in her life. Let Amutha live, not under a forged identity, but knowing her self more than anyone else.

Cinema is an art, not realistic unlike painting, not unrealistic unlike magic. What we see on that white screen is what we go through in our lives. It has been a mirror held towards each one of us, like a sponge absorbing the versatility of human emotions. So when you see lovemaking on screen, why should you cringe and howl? Sex is not something alien to us. It is a basic necessity of humans much like food, water, clothes and shelter.

We eat food, drink water and make love, it is as easily flowing as how I say it! If you have to cringe and howl for a sex scene on screen, you should be howling in your bedroom also. So lets just take things a little more easily, accept art as art and enjoy its aesthetics. Allow our children to do it as well, rather than switching the channel when you see couples kissing. Let them see, let them enjoy the art of it and be part of a bigger cosmic aesthetics..!

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About the Author

Anjali Chakkoth
A traveller at heart, writing is my art. Love is my God and this world is my home. Music is the drug and Cinema is the flame.

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