The Public in and of Cinema
Duration: 00:04:26; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 31.148; Saturation: 0.204; Lightness: 0.240; Volume: 0.512; Cuts per Minute: 22.264; Words per Minute: 23.613
Summary: These clips deal with the diverse publics, in and of cinema. In one an upright police officer plays the pedagogic role of reforming the unruly public, while addressing the audience at large, and in the other, the lumpen public dreams of its own vernacular modernity.
Rowdies watching a film (Haasil):
One of the more interesting films to be released in 2003, Haasil is about college politics in the University of Allahabad. This scene captures for me an interesting facet of the different ways in which people interpret the idea of the modern. This is a good example of a 'vernacular modernity' that defines itself against metropolis cities like Bombay and Delhi.
Look sonnie, this is the magic of Bombay
Arey, they have weapons which are English- type, which is why the cars fly up in the air like that
But here no matter how many bombs you throw, nothing ever happsn
The society there is different, because everyone there is modern
Even the thugs there, they travel everyday, Bombay, Dubai, Engaldn
Should we also go there
Just retain your pride, and watch the film quietly
There, its all about money, give me money or I will take your life, but here its give me power or I will kill you
Theres a big difference
They are a small industry, we run the country
Based in part on the infamous Bhagalpur blindings, in which the police poured acid on the eys of thirty one undertrials. One of the victims, Patel Shah, recalling the incident says " I was 25 then. I was told to wash my face in gangajal that was brought to us. They (policemen) said I had committed a sin so I needed to be washed clean. But before I could do anything, acid was poured into my eyes".
The film however has Ajay Devgan playing the role of a reformist, conscientious police officer who has to deal with the crime infested town of Tejpur. In this climatic scene Ajay Devgan has just arrested the two main criminals who have ruled the town, but the public which has assembled there demands that they be lynched, and one of them brings Gangajal (Acid) demanding that they be blinded. Ajav Devgan reasons with them pleading on behalf of law and order, arguing that of everyone were to take the law in their own hands, it would result in anarchy.
The world of Hindi cinema has always had a rather fraught relationship with the world of law and legality. One the one hand it has been obsessed with the vigilante and the moral alternative moral order of the criminal, while at the same time, it always ends with a moral lesson that the law should not be taken in one's own hands. Madhava Parsad raises the question in his analysis of Hindi cinema, asking why is it that the police always arrives late in Hindi cinema.
The framing of the address in this scene is particularly interesting, as it recalls for us the pedagogic uses to which cinema is often out. A member of the public in the scene poses.
Rule of Law