An Intersection Between Thappad & A Separation And Various Ways of Influential Cinema

On one hand, among various categories and genres of films, there are educational films whose sole purpose is to educate the viewers with their ideologies. Like Rajkumar Hirani‘s 3 Idiots (2009) and Peter Weir‘s Dead Poets Society (1989), the films stand strong on the point that they want to communicate to the audiences. The aftertaste of such films linger on one’s mind and encourage to take away something from them. And on the other hand, there are films those dilute the way they incorporate their ideologies by lying under a cloak of fiction. Like in the Harry Potter franchise and in Disney’s Zootopia (2016), the inequality between different groups of people in the real world is exploited in the fictional world of the films. Why those ideologies should hide in plain sight in such films? What is the need for it? One could argue it’s the grammar of Cinema of such kind. So, Why should they not be wearing such masks? We don’t want to listen to a lecture. And to make young children of this world, who are growing among such animosity, listen to the truth of the world in a mellowing way. The fictional world impact them to see the reflection of such world in reality. Sometimes, it helps them to take an uninfluenced decision on their own to walk with what’s right to their heart.

There is the other kind of cinema, a problematic one, that glorifies crimes. It might condition an audience who could easily be influenced by a bad thing. It could act as the trigger point. Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of the Wall street (2013), Brian De Palma’s Scarface (1983) are such movies in this type. Violence and Robbery are not the only bad things being glorified in cinema. Patriarchy and Religious internalization too seed the mind of an audience. They might not resist towards such unjust treatment too.

Among these types of cinema, there is another kind which neither try to deliberately educate you nor hide in plain sight to influence you indirectly. This kind of films shed light on the problems/issues we see/hear everyday. These films don’t try to nudge us to find what the problem is. Instead, these films invoke the underlying knowledge in ourselves to distinguish between what’s good and what’s bad. And of course, due to different perception from different people, people often find themselves in a smudged grey area. Not all of them unanimously agree to what’s good and what’s not. Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad (2020) and Ashgar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011) can be found in such areas of cinema.

From these 2 films, there are various scenes that straightforwardly communicate the internalized problems in the society, in religion. These films shed light on such sensitive issues where they are apathetically swept under a rug called passive aggressiveness. The society dictates here. It has the upper hand and tells someone to hold their family together at any cost, no matter how soul-crushing and disheartening the attempt could be. They are just in favor of unity. And this unity is built on the foundations of struggles and the sacrifices of the women in the family by emotionally extorting them. The onlookers of such issue pretend that they don’t it all. And to keep a family together, the society practises its women to shut themselves up till their last breath.

In both of these films, we see the husbands hold a upper hand in their relationships and they manage to get what they want, either being vulnerable or flying off the handle of their grips. Though both of these films dwell on the family affairs, I am affected by another unfair treatment that’s founded by religion. One particular scene from each of these films captured my attention for how deeply they reflect the seeping internalization of religion and patriarchy in the society.

In Thappad, the woman of the house is asked by her husband for WHY she is staring at him. She fumbles immediately not to offend her husband and says “No, I am just looking“. The shocking observation from the audiences, who silently practising and internalizing the patriarchy in their family, is that they think there is nothing problematic with this short exchange of conversation. The audiences, who realize that there is indeed something is wrong with the scene, see it for what it is. The audiences are not being influenced here. Instead, they realize the unjust on their own.
The man takes a authoritative tone with the woman because deep in his mind he thinks he “owns” her. He doesn’t believe in any of her action that’s not approved by him. He thinks the woman’s eyes should be glued to the ground until he say otherwise. The event that shortly follows it is very straightforward. He hits her and being a smug about it too.

In Ashgar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011), the husband of Razieh says in a court room that his wife should have his permission to find herself a job. And the plight of the women in their household is displayed with one line without going any further. There is another scene where the woman who comes to take care of an elderly man and finds him in a state where he can’t clean himself to change to new clothes. She is unable to reach out of any of his family members. In her heart, she knows what the most humane treatment she could do in this situation. But She stops herself at the thought of committing a sin. Now, How is it a sin and what culture seeded her mind to think that way?

An infant is fragile when it’s born. It needs an older person, a mother to take be cared for. An elderly person withers with the same fragility towards his/her last day on earth. It’s in the humans’ compassionate nature to care for other helpless people. Why religion comes into the picture? Why the culture and the practice have to be heartless on certain instances towards other people through its years of conditioning? Director Farhadi doesn’t tell you if it’s right or wrong. He simply displays it in of your eyes for you to decide.

When the woman asks the question of committing a sin, her child looks at her. The child is listening to the mother. One day, this child might find herself in the shoes of her mother. Could the child be independent of the cultural submission around her? or Will child too be succumbed to it? It is up to every one of us to decide on our own. It is up to us to equip ourselves with enough knowledge not to be influenced by the world’s say against what the heart wants, just because that’s where the majority of the world hides. These filmmakers abstractly manifests the unjust of the world in their films and infect us with a thought to create the precepts for our own to be sane in this insane world.

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