In recent times, there has been a huge hue and cry over artistic irresponsibility. Whether they be writers or movie makers, it is being increasingly felt that they must pen or film responsibly, keeping in mind how their work could influence especially young minds, impressionable minds.
This has been my perennial quarrel with Indian cinema, particularly Tamil cinema. Take, for instance Vetrimaaran's latest Asuran with Dhanush playing the lead. The movie was passed with an UA certificate, and I saw to my horror children as young as eight or nine watching the blood and gore on the screen. Asuran has decapitation, woman being burnt alive and sickles being used freely to murder and cause mayhem. Do children need to watch these?
Outside India, there has been a vociferous debate over Joker - Todd Phillips' psychological thriller that completely changes the concept and idea of a clown that we have all loved. Here, the joker, essayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is a blood thirsting criminal, who ends up killing his own mother. He is no joker whom we have all loved under the big top, with his winsome wit and humungous humour. Phoenix's Joker is a warped personality.
At the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival, I saw another extremely disturbing movie from Assam, Aamis. It is about cannibalism, but without a cause. Or, believe it or not, for love! Nirmali (Lima Das) is a paediatrician, happily married with a little son. But boredom from long years of marital existence drives her closer to Sumon (Aghadeep Baruah), a young student researching the food habits in north-eastern India for his doctoral thesis. He believes that no food can be considered unnatural or abnormal, and the doctor gravitates towards his way of thinking. When he falls in love with her, and is not able to get into physical intimacy, he thinks of another way to fulfil his sexual passion. He gets a doctor friend of his to slice a small part of his thigh that he cooks and feeds her! She soon gets addicted to human flesh, and obviously this can only lead to disastrous consequences.
The director, Bhaskar Hazarika, offers no reason whatsoever for Nirmali sinking into this quagmire, even after she finds out that the meat Sumon was feeding her came from his thighs. Such irrationality and illogicality need a strong explanation; it is not that the doctor and the young man are marooned on an island with no food that they need to eat each other up.
Yes, Das throws in a good piece of acting, but Aamis is a film that may have social repercussions and must be given a strict A certification – if at all it pops into the public domain.
(Author, commentator and movie critic Gautaman Bhaskaran is now covering the Mumbai Film Festival)