“Cinema can be entertaining but it is important to widen the horizons of the narrative,” Parvathy said.

If cinema cant show whats right dont promote whats wrong Actor Parvathy
news Cinema Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 14:49

“Art exists to create empathy,” said actor Parvathy. “When we sit in a theatre and watch a film, we suspend our disbelief. We forget they are actors playing characters – we laugh with them we cry with them, we aspire to be like them. We leave the cinema feeling some part of the character. That’s what it does – the visual medium is so powerful that it gets into your subconscious and it normalises difficult things or it makes you question things.”

Speaking at Change.org and The News Minute’s event on tackling commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEoC) ‘Choke The Demand’, actor Parvathy talked about the role that cinema could play in bringing difficult issues like child sex trafficking, CSEoC and other socially relevant issues to the fore.

A panel discussion moderated by TNM Editor-in-Chief Dhanya Rajendran and comprising of Roop Sen, a researcher and partner at Changemantras, Jasmine Kaur Roy, a writer-director and maker of Amoli, a documentary on child sex trafficking, Seema Sharma Diwan, Founder President of Talaash Foundation which rescues and rehabilitates victims of trafficking, and actor Parvathy, touched on several issues like prosecuting the customers of child sex workers, having healthy and open conversations about sex and sexuality and socio-economic conditions which make children vulnerable to trafficking.  

Parvathy said that she feels the responsibility as an artist to talk about relevant issues and topics which are generally not spoken about. “Cinema can be entertaining but it is important to widen the horizons of the narrative,” she said.

Sharing her experience as part of a short documentary film on online sexual predators by Bodhini, Parvathy said, “When an actor like Nivin, Prithviraj or I would speak about it, people would listen. And while I am not too comfortable with the idea that it’s the star image that gets people to listen, but at least the initial attention is drawn. As long as the work is done, the attention is caught, why not use that power.”

Parvathy also explained why she has been critical of mainstream cinema. When it comes to making films on socially relevant and taboo topics, she said that there is pressure from producers who think that people come to the cinema hall to get entertained for those two and a half hours and if a film talks about serious issues, it may not do well.  

“The moral aspect of cinema as an art form is hardly ever discussed, because they say people just want to come and have a good time for two hours. The responsibility of cinema goes beyond that money making when what you are glorifying and celebrating something that’s wrong. Forget the fact that you are not showing something that’s right, but you are glorifying what’s wrong with the society, like misogyny, patriarchy and normalising it in relationships,” she pointed out.

Love stories continue to be a popular trope in films, she said, but the patriarchy and obligation women feel to give their mind, body and everything else to man is reinforced by the relationships shown on screen too. “This has been going on for eons. For us to cut that fabric and weave it again, it will take generations. But the conversation has to come up again,” she said.

“We are weaving the fabric of the society’s psyche in a very wrong manner so far. It is going to take a long time to correct that. If we cannot speak about the right things and facts – if the producers say it will be boring – then might as well make sure they are not perpetrating the wrong things,” Parvathy added.