cinema: commodity or art?

k a lasar shine

The variance between art and commodity is tantamount to the conflict between the valuable and the invaluable. While a commodity is valuable, art become invaluable. They are as different as the body and soul in meaning. A toilet soap, a commodity that can be purchased from a market by bargaining, measuring and valuing, indeed is useful to us, but in a very limited way. But the service of art to mankind goes much beyond the limited usefulness of a commodity. When cinema becomes a commodity, it gets degraded to the level of toilet soap.

Even when man changed the course of his "progression" against the laws of nature, art continued its progression in perfect harmony with the nature. Art was described as the reflections of the inner virtues of mankind. Art had often become antagonistic towards the society, as earthquakes that erupts out of excessive abuse of the nature. The art of cinema, which degrades to a commodity, is anti-art as a toilet soap and becomes unnatural.

The timely intervention of art in the course of evolution highlights the importance of art in human history. The transcendence of voice to words and words to alphabets including the development of languages where the signs of germination of art. This marked the beginning of all the achievements, which we boast about today. That is why art can be termed as culture and even history. That is why cinematic dance is not an art.


The birth of cinema made possible the fusion of all the art forms and scientific knowledge man had acquired. The history of cinema begins where the history of art begins. The history of art begins where the history of mankind begins. Thus the birth of cinema doesn't coincide with the date on which the first cinema image appeared on the screen. Hence cinema too was bound to take up the responsible role, which any other art form had taken in human evolution.

The role of art:

Art acted as the confession box for mankind. It acted as the brimming rain that washed off all his sin. It guided him to recognise what to do and what not to. Art lived through songs before alphabets were born. Society kept changing. Gods descended on the earth from stories and gave shape to stones. Masters and slaves emerged. The rich used their baton of power on the poor. But the poor had their own art as a consoling friend. The songs they sung had the vibrancy of protest.

The rich too had their own art, the art that arose out of prosperity. Even while this art had to face criticism that they were mere exercises for their time-pass, it should not be forgotten that these classical art forms, once considered divine, too became commodious goods in plastic covers in recent times. The classical dances once performed under sacred lamps now have degraded to fancy dress performances packaged for foreign audiences. The contribution of words spoken and letters printed is much more than that of weapons for modern day social revolutions.

The Manifesto of Elimination:

The practical theory that to eliminate somebody, it is easier to use himself rather than using his enemy is now applied in cinema too. Cinema itself is seen eliminating its very soul, the element of art in it. Capitalism requires in-depth study of the manifesto of social revolution to eliminate them and preserve class differences and thereby survive itself. Similarly, those who are worried about the immense potential of the media of cinema to create a stir in the society succeeded to place capitalism within it and there by make this art form impotent. Governments consider cinema as a mere entertainment medium and even an industry. Who benefits by this? Those who have capital with them have emerged as the creators of cinema. It is natural that these rich and powerful people would manipulate this powerful media to safeguard their own interests. If Hitler directs a film, it would speak the language of Hitler. It would be absurd to believe that this film would speak the language of Mother Theresa. If these rich industrialists, who have converted this art to mere commodity, start creating good, artistic cinema, they may loose their foundation stone. For them making good cinema would be like cutting the branch of a tree, on which they are sitting.

Wolf in goatskin:

There is another group of filmmakers who are often misunderstood as messiahs of good cinema. They use every opportunity to curse and make fun of commercial cinema. They conduct street speeches about theories and ideologies. They speak only about the best films ever made. But no body in our country gets to see their films. It may be even said that they don't like their own films to be shown to our people. They make these films to be marketed in foreign nations, to showcase the inflated cultural symbols of our land to fulfil the curiosity of foreign people. These export quality films are usually misunderstood as good cinema.

Needs and commodities:

Drinking water is a need. When this need is converted to a commodity, it takes the shape of bottled drinking water. The people who market bottled water use all possible methods to maximise its sale. They even try to encroach all sources of pure natural water. They make people believe that the water of rivers and rainwater is poisonous and not suitable for human consumption. They also claim that people love bottled water and they manufacture it for them. Finally a condition reaches wherein bottled water becomes the only means of quenching one's thirst. Cinema turned out to be a commodity using this same formula.

Egg or hen?

Only perfect societies would give birth to perfect cinema. If we notice the "popular hits" of recent years, it would become clear that this society require bad films. It is understood that only a social change would give birth to good cinema. Similarly, for cinema to be capable of discharging the duties of good art, the same process of internal change should take place. The question, whether good cinema creates good society or good society creates good cinema is as absurd as the good old "intellectual dilemma" of "which came first, the hen or the egg".

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