Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Filmy litter

Do you remember the movie Dil Chahta Hai and that scene where Akshay Khanna meets Dimple Kapadia? There she is trying to heave her luggage into her new flat when the handle snaps on one of her suitcases. Akshay steps in to help the damsel in distress. But what does said damsel do with the broken suitcase handle? Well, she tosses it aside, of course.
Cut to the Kannada movie, Pallaki. Here we had handsome hero Prem crazily in love with heroine Rumanitu Choudhary. You remember the movie’s great hit song, Kannalli neeneyne, of course. A sequence in the song shows Rumanitu walking down the road with a friend when the heel on one of her sandals suddenly snaps. So the disgusted heroine takes off her broken sandal, tosses it aside, and walks on.
I loved how little things were shown in such a realistic fashion in Dil Chahta Hai – how, for example, when they finally get her luggage in, Dimple collapses onto the divan, and then realizes she has landed on her bag and pulls it out from under her. Or how Aamir Khan gives his mike to a technician before he goes out to dance and sing Koi kahey, kahta rahey. Sadly, the scene with the suitcase handle also mirrors reality: most people would have done as Dimple (and Rumanitu) did. She threw her trash aside amongst some plants near a wall. Not in a dustbin. The saddest part is that the heroes in both the movies did not find their lady loves’ littering ways odd or inappropriate. Nor for that matter, did anyone in the audience. Is it any wonder our cities are full of trash? Raise your hands all of you who keep your bus tickets, chocolate wrappers or juice boxes with you till you can find a place to dispose of them. Raise you hands all those who talk to others to stop them littering.
What if the directors had done things just a little differently? Dimple’s character could very easily have been shown throwing the broken handle into a dustbin, just as Rumanitu’s character in Pallaki could very easily have carried her broken shoes home to throw them in a dustbin there, rather than toss them into some bushes along the footpath. Would these minor changes have influenced anyone’s behaviour? Perhaps not with just one scene in one movie. But if all our movies showed our heroes and heroines treating trash responsibly, a standard of acceptable and desirable behaviour could perhaps get set: it’s un-cool to litter.
We can rant all we want about how the administration/ municipality/ politicians/the neighbours/poor people/ auto drivers/tourists/ somebody (other than us, that it) is to blame for the piles of trash that we find everywhere in Bangalore. But the truth is, it is us. We are the ones who dirty our cities.

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