Cinema is by far the most common and cheapest means of entertainment in cities in India. The maximum we Indians can look to cinema is as an exposition of art. In a country like India, where most people are illiterate and so poor that they can ill afford any other recreation, Cinema has taken its toll.
Poor, hard pressed and illiterate people find that the cinema is the only means by which they can break the monotony and drudgery or their routine mundane lives.
The village or urban labor class are casual about pictures because they do not have the time, the means or occasion to dabble with any of the luxuries they see on the cinema screen. However, it is the urban lower class and small children of all classes who treat movies as something more than mere entertainers. Thus we see that the urban population is mostly influenced by the cinema.
The influence of cinema cannot be underestimated for; cinema is a visual aid to learning. So what is seen on the cinema screen is automatically assimilated by those who see the picture. Now, what is to be measured is the depth and amount of influence on different individuals. As we all know the most impressionable people are the illiterates and the young minds so, when picture are seen by the masses, the greatest and deepest influence is on the young and illiterate, while all other categories only get their share of entertainment and forget about it all. The educated may view the cinema as an art, besides it being entertainment but the influence on the illiterate and children is seen in their trying to copy or imitate what they see. Besides, these categories also start visualizing the screen to be a picture of real life which leads them to disappointment and frustration.
The cinema being a very important visual aid can play a vital role in educating the masses. If pictures are based on realities and deal with society evils and the like, the impressionable minds will understand life and society better, and the cinema will be playing its role. The cinema can play a positive educative role in the spheres of photography, art, dancing and singing and this would be a positive contribution of cinema to the teaching of all these fine arts.
What we said in the previous paragraphs is just what could be achieved by the cinema as its influence is tremendous. However, at least in India the influence is just the opposite Cinema is not at all educative in its role instead, it is only influencing impressionable minds in the negative. That would go to mean that, the quality of our cinema is very low. The impressionable minds are, as expected, learning what they see in the cinema. They behave as they see, they dress as they see and act as they see. So, the influence is undoubtedly full and complete but absolutely negative. This has to be because, the young and the illiterate learn and ape all of what they see as, they do not possess the capacity to clean the hay from the chaff.
Another very dampening effect of the cinema today is in causing depressions, frustrations and then suicides. People who see that life is all roses as depicted ok the screen, life is all glamour and money, expect the same from life for themselves. When this is not to be, they are sadly disappointed with what life has to offer them in reality.
Cinema can be of great utility and influence if the cinemas made are educative and provide clean entertainment, clean songs and dances of some standard. However, in our country, like all other things, cinema has also become an industry highly commercialized each picture produced must be a commercial hit no matter what it may all be about. The producers and directors get together to produce picture to earn a fortune and not to provide quality education or entertainment for people. This is why today the picture we see are mostly those which cater to the lower classes if people, and children, as, only they can be frivolous and appreciate as fun, meaningless gestures and overtures.
Thus, the influence of cinema has got to be tremendous and it is being so. We are getting the return of our cinemas in all our crimes and violence and sex. So it is playing its role of teaching no doubt but what, is just nobody’s business. If the cinema has to play the role it is meant to play, the quality of cinema must improve no matter ever if quantity is not retained. It is not important to know how much we learn, it is all important to know what all we learn, as the influence of cinema is great and irreparable.