Every single frame of a film reflects director's politics: Kabir Khan

Bedika K

Mumbai, Oct 21 (PTI) Kabir Khan on Monday said he is ready to ignore bad acting or poor screenplay but 'bad politics' or 'wrong messaging' is something that he cannot overlook as a filmmaker because every frame of a movie reflects its director's ideology.

The filmmaker said there are times when audiences accept such films and it makes him sad but all he can do is try and present the contrary view through his cinema.

'As a filmmaker and even more as an audience, I can forgive bad screenplay, music and direction, writing and acting, but I can never forgive bad politics.

'I feel really sad when sometimes films with really wrong messaging get critical acclaim and a lot of audience support. I feel terrible about it. I can't do anything except let my own films give a contrary point,' he said at a panel discussion on 'Cinema as an agent of change' at the JIO MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star.

Recent releases such as 'Kabir Singh' and 'Joker' have divided critics with their skewed messaging, sparking debate about their director's point of view.

The 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' filmmaker said the term politics is often misunderstood as something that relates only to political parties but the word has a wider meaning.

'But anything is politics. The way I frame a woman through my lens, that's politics. That's talking about my politics, about how I think about that woman or women in general, the way I write a woman character will reflect my politics. The way I show children or anything... Every single frame of film, you have to understand, is political and every filmmaker's politics comes shining through,' he said.

Kabir said nobody has the right to decide which film should or shouldn't be made but ultimately the responsiblilty lies with the director.

'The film will reflect the filmmaker's politics. Now you might or might not agree with it. But nobody has the right to tell anyone in this world, 'make this and don't make this.' As a filmmaker I can say, this film's politics is so bad, why is it doing so well?

'I can feel bad about it. But I cannot say, 'This can't be made, my politics is correct.' That is a given. It has to ultimately be a film. Audiences buy tickets to watch the film voluntarily. No one forces them. If the audience tends to support a film, whose politics I don't agree with, I will feel bad about it but that's all that I can do about it.'

When asked about what his approach would have been on 'Kabir Singh', which was criticised for celebrating toxic masculinity, the director said it is not about what the story is but how it is told.

'I haven't seen the film so I'm not sure how it was done, but if it was a character who had toxic masculinity, of course, you can create that character. It's ultimately at the end of the film, how am I showing him. Am I glorifying him or I am saying here's a broken piece, this is how he led his life and then you can decide how you want to pursue him.

'Ultimately, it's that comment which the filmmaker makes at the end of the film which is important. It isn't that one shouldn't make films on toxic (relationships) or politically incorrect people. I think politically incorrect people are damn exciting. But it's about how you at the end of the film leave your comment,' he added.

Kabir, who has made acclaimed films with a strong political backdrop, also spoke about reports of RRS wanting to restrict anti-India, anti-Hindu content on digital platform.

The director said he had never been told directly to pro-establishment content but read about people often being pressured to toe the line.

'Nobody's told me. But yes you're absolutely right. The conditions are happening, one reads and hears about it.

'Strange sort of pressures do come on people. As of now, nothing's come on me. I wouldn't be surprised, someday somebody tries to pass this message on to me. I think they know how I'll react so they aren't saying it right now. But yes, we are absolutely living in times where anything can be said,' he added.

The director said while films in the country are probably the most powerful medium, it'd be too pompous for a filmmaker to say movies can bring about a change.

'It's a powerful medium, reaches far and wide. It can definitely make you think. Whether it leads to a change, I don't know. It's too pompous to say films can bring about a change but if there are a number of films that speak about a certain subject and if people are consuming the subject, it can definitely make people think.'

The filmaker said it's also because the film industry is not one monolith and is made up of people with extreme views.

'There are some filmmakers who are extreme right, some are extreme left, some middle of the road. We also have to understand that when those filmmakers make their films, their own personal politics will be reflected. Whether it's done deliberately or inadvertently, their politics will come through,' he added.

Kabir considers 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' as one of his most political films whose release coincided with the rise of the right wing.

'The divisive politics had come into play. I sometimes get confused because I know there are certain people who are hardcore followers of certain divisive politicians that we have, but they tell me 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' is their favourite film! I know their idealogy, the film stands for a certain idealogy, so how's that contradiction getting settled!' PTI JUR


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