One Big Idea by Deepa Gahlot: Creating Connoisseurs

17 Apr,2013

By Deepa Gahlot


The question comes up sporadically, why don’t the newspapers and general interest publications carry reviews or in-depth pieces on culture? The answer is invariably a) who’s interested in reading about it?  b) where are the experts to write on art and culture?


These two issues are linked- if nobody writes, how can interest be created? And if no interest is created, who will read?


In the Indian media, Bollywood has almost wiped out everything else that has value, beauty, intelligence. If crass films that make 100 crore are cited as the ultimate goal to be achieved, slowly all difference of opinion (already mainstream critics are becoming apologists for bad commercial cinema) will be smothered and anything that cannot be measured with money will lose its worth.


Already, large parts of the country exist in a cultural vacuum and in cities, for the middle and upper classes, malls and pubs are the new temples of ‘timepass.’


The print medium seems to have abdicated its role as thought leader and influencer. It happened when most publications abruptly dropped their culture and books pages, and, to ostensibly rope in young readers, filled pages and pages with Bollywood trivia. Now India has a young generation of Philistines, who think Bollywood and TV talent contests is all the culture they need, because who will teach them any better? Not schools burdened with percentage-oriented education; not parents, unless they are exceptionally enlightened.


If the next generation’s taste has to be developed and the onslaught of idiocy halted, then the mainstream media-mainly print- has to bring back the culture and books pages and also encourage a climate of informed criticism and connoisseurship.


–The writer is a senior journalist and an award-winning film reviewer. Her column, Reviewing the Reviews, appears on most Mondays


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