Kabir Khan: Cinema can make people think

Filmmaker Kabir Khan believes a film with a “message” can prod
people into thinking, though he fears that it doesn’t end up
changing “reality”. The director of Bajrangi Bhaijaan,
a 2015 film about an Indian man who helps a little girl reach
her home in Pakistan, says it made people think about relations
between India and Pakistan. “It (cinema) is powerful enough to
at least make people think, make you ponder, if not change.
Like after ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ a lot of people thought about
India and Pakistan’s relationship, where are we headed. Isn’t
this a better option than constantly being at war?” he told
PTI.

Cinema, he adds, makes people rethink old views. “But I don’t
know if it’s powerful enough to change the reality. Maybe not,
unfortunately,” says Kabir, whose new film “Tubelight” — set in
the backdrop of the India-China 1962 war — is to be released on
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Kabir stresses he has never shied away from taking up social
and political issues in his films, stating that he is not
afraid to speak his mind. “Films are the most powerful medium
in the country and filmmakers should always put across their
point of view without fear.”

On political pressure on cinema, Kabir says he had not
experienced it and would not succumb to it. “I don’t get
afraid, but I do get upset. I am not afraid to speak my mind,”
he says.

“I think in today’s time it is all the more important to speak
up. That’s the greatest thing about our country that we are
allowed to speak our mind.”

Kabir says trolling on the Internet does not bother him, but
the dismal state of public debate is a “major” concern. “You do
get trolled but that doesn’t scare me, though it does upset me.
I get worried about where we are heading and what this public
debate has been reduced to. Loud shrills, screaming and
shouting on news channels — that’s not how a debate is suppose
to be like.”

One might not agree with people, but there is a certain way of
conducting a debate, he says. “You put your point and then a
counter point. You can’t start shouting, yelling, screaming,
abusing as then there is no argument,” he says.

Kabir’s films have always had a strong socio-political
undertone. “Kabul Express” was set in post-Taliban Afghanistan,
“New York” was about the effects of 9/11 attacks, and the
Salman-starrer “Tubelight” looks at a brother in search of a
missing soldier.

The filmmaker, however, says his choice of subjects is not
intentional, but his aim is to blend reality with mainstream,
which interests today’s audience. “I have not actively thought
why the films had India- Pakistan, India-China as backdrop, why
‘New York’ had a US backdrop. I do think and put my stories
against the backdrop of the real context as those are the films
I like watching,” he says.

As a mainstream cinema watcher, he has “struggled lot of times
with the fact that a lot of stories were set in vacuum”, he
says. “There is no social or political context. I have realised
it’s not just about (putting) politics as a backdrop in the
film but about the way you present politics in your films. And
today’s youth likes a blend of reality and mainstream than
larger-than-life story telling.”

Tubelight also stars Sohail Khan, Om Puri and Chinese
actress Zhu Zhu.

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