Hindi films with freethought themes
#1
The following can be the beginning of a running list of movies that allow the freethinking voice to be heard, if not as the core message of the film, at least as a plot device. These relaxed criteria allow some mainstream films, even entertainers like Jaadugar(1989) to make the cut, rather than just artworks in the 'art film' category. Under the broader umbrella of freethought, it may be useful also to list movies with reform themes in general, as is being done here for Tamil.

The movies listed maybe available for online viewing (subtitles not guaranteed though). Let's try to avoid spoilers as we recommend.

Ankahee(1985) This theme of this film deals not as much with the question of whether astrological predictions are true, as with the question of how much harm is caused by reliance on such predictions even if they were true. A sordid contemporary instance of how forecasting, even when scientifically based, can be misapplied to abet inhuman conduct, is ultrasonic prenatal sex determination in sexist cultures. The cast of the film includes such renowned spokespersons of rationalist causes as Amol Palekar (who in this op-ed at the The Hindu laments how the cause is being betrayed today) and Shriram Lagoo (a trained physician in real-life playing in this film the role of a seemingly infallible astrologer insisting that the outcomes of any attempts by the most skilled surgeon are predestined). The film occasions reflection of the ethical dilemma of what is the right course of action when there's a choice that is forced between quality of life and duration of life (or between a fulfilled life and a long life) with no option to have both, and what moral dimensions this decision assumes when it is made for oneself or on behalf of someone who is dependent or helpless. A bonus for aesthetic atheists watching the movie is the songs in the movie, which are compositions of medieval poets of Kabir's era, masterfully woven into context in the film and rendered by artists no less than Bhimsen Joshi and Asha Bhosle.
Youtube playlist

Guide(1965) Based on a novel by R K Narayan of the same name, this movie too lends itself to questions not only of whether miracles are true, but also at what human cost they are occasioned, even if for a moment they are assumed to be true. Speaking of whether miracles are true, a large proportion of educated Indians, perhaps the majority, imagine a distinction between fake miracles by impostor godmen and 'real miracles' by true godmen, thus begging the questions: "What are some real occurrences that so elude simpler explanations that they must be thought of as miracles? Who is a 'true godman'?" Another question dealt with in the movie, also frequently occurring in religious narratives of redemption, is the assumption that there is no redemption without suffering, either voluntary or administered. The denouement of the film is an archetypal portrayal of redemptive suffering, a holy man on a fast unto death, with its theatrical functions in a credulous society all too willing to conveniently let suffering be lone and vicarious but redemption be collective. A similar setting appears also in the denouement of one of the narratives in Ship of Theseus(2013) where too the symbolic and sanctified social functions of a fast are juxtaposed with its inescapable and capricious consequences on the body and mind that do not necessarily render them 'holy' as the faithful use the word.
Youku link

In these films and others, an accommodation to the audience of the day or simply the need to not limit art to didactic functions, may mean that the rationalist position or the humanist position does not always appear in a 'moral of the story' position and maybe put into the lines of characters in situations where their sobriety, or sanity, or possession of the faculties in general is ambiguous. Whether or not the rationalist position gets the last word in any of these films, they nevertheless challenge mainstream assumptions to the extent that they get a word in from the side of reason, mindful of compassion.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Indian language subtitles for TED talks related to science, freethought and humanism arvindiyer 1 4,892 20-Nov-2013, 04:31 PM
Last Post: Nagesh_S
  Hindi-English Translators needed bala 58 27,075 03-Oct-2010, 09:09 PM
Last Post: donatello



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)