Going to the pictures has now become a craze with young people, both boys and girls, and it has been noticed that they often economize on other items of expenditure but they must see films every week, if not twice or thrice a week. A healthy hobby is, of course, to be welcomed but seeing films too frequently is far from such a hobby. This fast growing habit is not only expensive (because of the high rates of admission to cinema halls) but also results inconsiderable waste of precious time which can certainly be devoted to healthier, less wasteful and more gainful pursuits.

If Indian films had been well and properly made, with a sound educative theme forming a part of the story, the harm done to youth would have been much less than it actually is. But the tragedy is that most Indian films present scenes of sex, violence, crime and other deviations from normal human behaviour. The pernicious influence of films is thus obvious. When grossly vulgar and crude romantic scenes are presented on the screen, along with songs and duets, and when boys are shown chasing girls, indulging in improper jokes, and singing catchy, lilting tunes, it is no wonder that young boys imitate the screen heroes in everyday life and try to convert what they see in films into realities.

Education and other experts have repeatedly found that the main source of eve teasing and assaults on girls in our towns and cities, in the market place and elsewhere, is the cinema. Young people see on the screen a hero running after a heroine, approaching and tempting her in subtle ways. Such talk and gestures naturally catch the attention of the immature cinema fans and affect their thinking and conduct. Thus, the social fabric and the morals of the young people are adversely affected.

The efforts of parents and teachers to give their boys and girls sound education and to teach them good, ethical behaviour and good morals in order that they may become good citizens are thus defeated. The parents’ own hard-earned money is spent by their grown-up boys and girls in watching films which have an adverse impact on character and morals, apart from queering the pitch for the training for good citizenship.

The cinema, it is said, can serve as a good medium of education and instruction, and the message that can be conveyed through films cannot be conveyed as effectively through any other channel, such as the radio, because of the colourful, visual impact made by gorgeously dressed girls conducting themselves in a particular fashion, defying their parents and guardians, challenging their judgment, describing them as old-fashioned etc., walking out of their houses at odd hours and sometimes marrying the hero secretly and then creating awkward situations or giving major shocks to their parents. The love scenes, the amorous couples, the stereotyped formula stories and the eternal triangle all create an effect that is far from healthy or conducive to good morals and good conduct.

Young boys and girls are attracted by the affluence and glamour they see on the screen, and there are many cases of youth either running away from home or pressing their parents to let them go to Bombay to try their luck in Bollywood. Each cinema-crazy boy and girl (especially those having an attractive personality) thinks he or she can prosper like the heroes and the “stars” seen on the screen. All the stories they hear of top “stars” being paid lakhs of rupees for each film and living in grand style proves irresistible. Thousands of young boys and girls have virtually ruined themselves in the senseless quest for becoming cinema “stars”. Only a handful of talented actors and actresses prosper, while most of the young aspirants have to face intense frustration and utter disappointment because everyone cannot become a cinema hero or heroine. Most of them have to remain content with secondary or supporting roles, sometimes not even that.

Another notable aspect of the situation is that whenever some enterprising producer presents a simple, true-to-life story, based on the works of famous short story or fiction writers as Prem Chand or Sarat Chandra, such films, and also art films free of glamour, seldom prove successful and prove to be flops at the box office. The modem audiences
want songs and dances, spectacle and gorgeous costumed, love scenes and fights. What sort of citizens can the country hope to produce when the films the young see are totally misleading, lack aesthetical values. The film censors also seem to be more liberal than ever and allow sex and violent scenes which have a bad effect on the mental make-up of youth. Visiting the cinemas too often at the cost of class lectures and by missing lectures also spoils the education of youth. Instead of imbibing the basic virtues of life, our youth begin to think of flirting and seducing, like the screen heroes. The youth imbibe negative social values. Both rural and urban youth thus fall victims to vicious temptations. It is not contended that there should be a total ban on films. But steps should certainly be taken to see that good instructive films are made, not trash and ruinous presentations merely to cater to cheap tastes.