Communicating with the World through our Cinema
By Fatima Arif
The art of storytelling can trace its roots to the existence of mankind. Every age has its own form, be it carvings on the wall, oral traditions or the written word. With time there was addition of television, films, music and comics. Post technology, the world has seen the rise of video games and that too is considered a form of storytelling by many.
Hannah Arendt said: “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”
This quality of the art of storytelling empowers it with the ability to communicate like no other. Everyone is able to connect with a story in their own frame of reference and take away a part of it calling it their own.
Today, communication for us is just a click away. In such an inter-connected world, it was naively expected that barriers would go down and people who learn to celebrate diversity and tolerance would be a given trait. Unfortunately, only pop culture and its like got globalized and the human race lost track of tolerance; selectively picking the aspects of diversity to celebrate and condemning others that fall out of our respective comfort zones.
In all of this chaos, I feel that the medium of cinema, has in the past continued to communicate across all barriers. Personally, this form of storytelling fascinates me. It took me to The Hidden Half, Le Grand Voyage, The Incas Remembered, Motorcycle Diaries, The Colour of Paradise and many more.
I grew up listening to my mother’s recollection of how it was a tradition during her medical school days, to unwind after every stressful exam session to go watch a movie; picking a Hollywood or Lollywood option. Our generation mostly grew up with Bollywood cinema and the tales of the glory days of our own cinema; therefore, this revival, rebirth or whatever you want to call it phase is a welcoming treat.
There has been no dearth of cribbing about the lack of projection of our cultural voice at the global front and many have pointed fingers at our entertainment industry.
On the technical side, the industry can be considered as taking baby steps but I find this experimental phase quite exciting. We are seeing a variety of movies; from hardcore subject oriented stories like Manto, Shah, Dhuktar and Moor to drama and slice of life kind of stuff like Ho Mann Jahaan, Zinda Bhaag and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani etc. Despite all the variation, there is a common denominator and that is their Pakistani voice. The proof? Audiences are owing them and returning to theaters to support the local cinema.
Our music has its own distinct taste that is appreciated the world over. Those of us 90s kids, have fond memories of witnessing the peak of our music industry. Due to multiple factors that too was downhill, however with the movies back on track, the music is back and a happy addition to our music collections. Similarly, the involvement of the fashion industry is a refreshing addition.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican director and screen writer behind films like The Revenant, Birdman, 21 Gram and Amores perros said “Cinema is universal, beyond flags and borders and passports.”
The cinema indeed has this amazing power to communicate across the board, especially in a time when it is becoming more and more important to talk and listen to each other in order to understand the different perspectives. It is important for the individuals who have this power and medium at their disposal, to use it responsibly and help break stereotypes, both within the Pakistani society and outside.
Cinema has that power to be the communication bridge and I, for one am glad that the world will get a window into our side of the story and the diversity it has to offer.