A while ago, while sitting and chatting with a group of friends, I noticed how often talk veered to the television series that was the rage du jour. We had done the Scandinavian dramas, or Nordic Noir as the press referred to it. Gritty, real and faintly depressing. So much so that it had permeated the consciousness of present day television spawning many excellent British dramas along the same lines. All of my friends were now into watching the cult classic, Breaking Bad. Some were at the very tail end of it, and some, like myself, were just starting out. Almost everyone agreed that in its premise of a chemistry teacher turning to a life of crime, a protagonist who becomes deeply unsympathetic as the story progresses, and its ability to raise questions about one’s own moral judgement, it was a deeply satisfying albeit unsettling experience.
Conversely, I remember sitting and chatting with a group of Indian friends, who were not so much into television series per se, unless it was a comedy show that starred someone called Kapil, and held everyone in thrall with his supposedly funny routines. I cannot comment as I rarely watch Indian television, fearing that the glory days are past, and the drivel that passes for entertainment is not my cup of tea. However, Cinema in India! Now that’s quite another thing. Indians have been obsessed, even consumed by their passion for movies. And nowhere is that more evident than when you sit a group of friends together. Invariably the talk turns to the latest blockbuster. There is always a glut of promotions, film stars beaming out of every channel, plying their wares, and the public getting sucked into spending the moolah. However, the heartening difference is that audiences are so much more discerning these days. Big names no longer sell movies by themselves. In fact its the experimental producer/ directors, the independent film makers that are finally finding a market for what would once have been a loss making venture.
How do these two varying view points bind together? Simply in the fact that different things resonate at different times. I happen to be lucky enough to witness both quality television in the West and quality cinema from the East. Not that these didn’t exist before, but suddenly they are riding the crest of a wave, and I am happy to be deluged by it.
These Summer holidays I plan to introduce my girls to Hitchcock. Films like “North by Northwest”, “Vertigo”, “Rear Window”. Movies that I hope they find as fascinating as I did, when I was younger. These are classics, and have found resonance in every age, at all times. I remember being introduced to the Biblical films by my mother. “The ten commandments”, “Ben Hur”, “Samson and Delilah” – again, films that fascinated in their subject matter, their scope and their sweep. (Nothing to do with the little crush my mother nursed on Charlton Heston then!).
Our tastes are set very early on in life. The more one is exposed to, potentially the more one is able to assimilate and appreciate. Yet, sadly and strangely, certain films and series that were absolutely at the very pinnacle in their time, find nothing but dissonance. Could it be that anything that is too au courant is also condemned to date and fade equally ignominiously? That is a subject for another day…