By Rashmi Kumari
We Indians have grown up watching Hindi movies since childhood, when we used to think that a hero is a good man who gets to marry the heroine at the end. But as we got older our perceptions changed, as we started watching ‘Behind the Scene’ videos of movies, which showed that a real hero was just an ordinary person like us.
This raises certain questions: why are we ready to do anything for a glimpse of these heroes? Why do we indulge in foolishness to watch movies? Our social media landscape, visual and print spaces are saturated with information about movies and movie stars. People follow these stars blindly, despite their questionable actions. Recently, Kanika Kapoor refused corona testing at an airport. Despite her negligence to follow government orders and uphold an ethical behaviour, she has a massive following among the youth because of her ability to entertain.
Then there is the case of Sonu Sood (Chedi Singh in Dabangg), who brought back home workers trapped during Covid-19 lockdown; he arranged buses at his own expense. A person who is an antagonist in reel life has helped people by risking his own life in real life. As a hero in real life, he teaches us lessons in humanity by walking on the right path with his ethical and moral behaviour. We need to tell our adolescents and youth that there is a difference between reel life and real life heroes.
Why do adolescents and the youth still follow Salman Khan even after the ‘hit and run’ case? Some of his supporters on Instagram posted, “अगर सड़क पे सोयेंगे तो कुचले ही जायेंगे इसमें भाई की क्या गलती थी” (If people sleep on the street, they will get killed. What’s the fault of bhai in this?). We encounter such blind devotion of supporters on Instagram and Tiktok. Now, with Shushant Singh Rajput’s suicide, Salman Khan (Chulbul Pandey) has been dragged into the controversy. There have been a series of charges labelled against him in the past as well. As in the previous cases, would Chulbul Pandey, the reel life hero, come out unscathed and make a series of Dabangg?
We need to teach our adolescents, who are at a transitional phase, that they should not follow anyone blindly. Those they worship as heroes are simply doing a job onscreen without any resemblance to their real life actions. We need to teach our young if people sleep on the street, it is out of desperation and poverty and victim blaming is the worst form of apathy. How about we teach them that they do something so that people won’t have to sleep on the streets? Something akin to what Chedi Singh did for them and became a real life hero. In the kind of world we live in right now, we need to show them the real world beyond television shows, mobile phone, TikTok, Instagram, and malls. As the country battles a corona crisis, we must tell our youth that the real heroes are our doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, police, army men, sanitation workers, etc., whose services defy narrow sectarian divisions.
We are a country steeped in religiosity and mythological texts. Our adolescents learn some of the values of a real hero from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. But would they learn that a woman is not secure despite having five husbands? Would they learn that a husband like God is not supposed to abandon his pregnant wife? We need to teach our adolescents what they see is not necessarily true. Off-screen Chedi Singh defeats Chulbul Pandey. Let our young learn the stories of actual real life heroes such as Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Jyotiba Phule, Savitri Bai Phule, and many others. The struggle they embodied in their life can change an adolescent’s thinking at the developmental age.
Rashmi Kumari, Ph.D. Research Scholar, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110067, E-Mail ID: email@example.com
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.