Anyone who has ever talked to me probably knows that I watch a lot of films. If they have talked to me multiple times, then during one of those conversations I have probably confessed to them that I watch at least one film per day — sometimes more. This is usually when people become absolutely baffled, as they rarely ever come across someone who is as obsessed with films as me. It should not be surprising, considering that I come from a culture that worships cinema and puts its heroes on a pedestal. But, I digress.
Cinema to most people is a collection of moving pictures that may or may not tell a good story. But to me, it is an opiate that allows me to escape my reality, the vehicle I take to travel to different places, the form I take to live different lives and the poem that floods my heart with a myriad of feelings. It is the literature that commands my undivided attention. It is the series of moving images on the screen that enchanted me as a child and still continues to captivate me.
I, to this day, believe that the art of stitching pictures together to provide the illusion of them moving is the single greatest innovation to ever happen. Now, instead of hoping readers use their imagination to interpret your art the right way, you can show them exactly what you are thinking yet allow them the same freedom to derive their own meaning from the visual media. And, just like that, cinema becomes an open dialogue between the creator and the viewer, and by extension, the viewer and other viewers.
Cinema then becomes a means to transmit the cultural values of day-to-day life by mediating social truths, individual aspirations, collective aspirations and personal dreams. It becomes an authority that dictates people’s social worth and self-esteem regarding nationhood, race, ethnicity and sexuality. One, because it is so widespread and two, because it is easily accessible and considerably engaging. The images that are produced and widely reproduced in the form of films therefore must have an accurate representation of a diverse set of communities and identities. Just like films were always used as a tool of propaganda to sow dissent and hatred against other countries, I believe that cinema is the only tool that can bring people together and show them that unity in diversity is the need of the hour.
Films can be anything. They can be gut-wrenching. They can be light-hearted, funny or even ridiculous and whimsical. But they stem from an idea. Ideas when combined with visuals become that much more powerful. That power influences everyone, from children like me to old adults.
Before cinema was this ultimate form of art to me, it was simply the film that I watched every Friday. It was the film that taught me how to react to made up situations in my head. It was the film that taught me that little girls can be whatever they want to be. It was the film that encouraged me to pursue my passion. It was the film that encouraged me to be creative and write my heart out. It was the film that took long walks on the beach with me. But the cinema is a powerful tool, and it does not only influence me, rather it influences and fascinates hundreds, if not thousands, of others. Within all of us, you will see a reflection of each other, and the shared love of cinema becomes the thread that connects us and unbeknownst to each other, we become a community of pure cinema lovers, and the cinema theater becomes our home.