A FRIEND SENT ME YESTERDAY A FILM CLIP which, according to him, was the shortest film ever made in the world to have won an award.
It showed an official sitting in his drawing room with a pile of files, as his little daughter played around the room. As each file is opened he finds a currency note and signs the paper. He throws on the floor any file that does not have a note. His daughter picks up the file but he puts it aside. She sees that he signs only the files which have money.
The little girl then puts before him her school ‘Report Card’ and gets scolded for poor marks in some subjects. He refuses to sign the card and puts it aside.
A few minutes later she returns with the card. When he opens it he finds a few coins from her pocket money inside the card. That opens his eyes; even his child knows that he is corrupt and signs only when he is bribed.
Next to the ‘love’ theme with the hero and heroine dancing around trees singing duets, Indian films focus on social evils like corruption, dowry system and caste
discrimination. Millions see the films and even shed tears for those wronged by the evils.
And yet the social evils not only continue but thrive. During the last government in India a new scandal got exposed every day. Some of that regime’s scandals are still being exposed. A cartoonist once showed a newspaper vendor shouting that day’s sensational headline: “NO SCANDAL TODAY’!
No amount of sloganeering and condemnation in films and editorials have reduced the evils. They are accepted by the society as normal. As I mentioned in another post, no parent would refuse a match for his daughter (in India’s arranged marriage system) because the boy’s father made money by corrupt means.
Even our religious rituals – making an offering to God and asking for a favor in return – promote bribery. There is no social stigma attached to corruption. It may be illegal, but is not considered immoral or unethical.
It took an extreme step like imposition of Emergency with Press censorship and jailing of thousands dynasty rule to be ended. And it came back when its replacement was a weak, divided, coalition.
India threw out a corrupt government to elect the present NDA government. But it has not yet thrown out corruption itself. So extreme corruption which makes life difficult for millions may be required to make people fed up and finally throw out corruption.
Let corruption grow — to end it.
PS –The friend claimed the two-minute film was the shortest ever made to win an award (he called it an Oscar, unaware that there are no Oscars in India). If I remember right around 1966 Promod Pati won an award for a 50-second documentary (yes, less than a minute) titled “And Miles to Go“.
In it the camera spans down from a jet plane flying across the screen to an old woman and a child holding a slate (those days children used slates to learn writing). For a second you think the grandmother is teaching the little girl. Then you realize it was the other way around. ‘And Miles to go’ were words from a Robert Frost poem, found scribbled on a paper on first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s desk after his death.
Yes. Half a century later, it is still miles to go for a corruption-free society.