Blending Politics and Commerce-How Marvel Changed Cinema & What Bollywood Can Learn
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Blending Politics and Commerce-How Marvel Changed Cinema & What Bollywood Can Learn

Is it better to be feared or respected? I say, is it too much to ask for both? They say the best weapon is one you never
have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire
once. That’s how Dad did it. That’s how America does it. And it’s worked out pretty well so far. Find an excuse to let one of these off the
chain, and I personally guarantee you
the bad guys won’t even want to come out of their caves. For your consideration,
the Jericho. A cocky, playboy, self-righteous weapons-manufacturer,
billionaire – Tony Stark – is almost killed by his own weapons but ends up being saved
by the sacrifice of a stranger. Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life. When Tony is finally rescued, reaches his
country, has a burger and calls a press conference… this is what he does… Hey, would it be all right
if everyone sat down? Why don’t you just sit down? That way you can see me, and I can… A little less formal and… I saw young Americans killed
by the very weapons I created to defend them and protect them. And I saw that I
had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero accountability. Mr. Stark! Hey, Ben. What happened over there? I had my eyes opened. I came
to realize that I have more to offer this world than just
making things that blow up. And that is why, effective
immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing
division of Stark International until such a time as I can decide what
the future of the company will be. What direction it should take,
one that I’m comfortable with and is consistent with the highest
good for this country, as well. All Marvel films are characterised by their
special effects. Yet amidst them all, this scene from the first
Iron Man remains my favourite. I had choked watching this scene because for
me it wasn’t Tony Stark but the United States of America – the world’s largest weapon’s
manufacturer, supplier and user – admitting to messing up the world with their ignorance,
arrogance and ruthlessness, not to mention blatant lies about things like weapons of
mass destruction. That scene and that film, also helped me understand
one simple thing – that cinema need not be a binary of commercial-dumb-apolitical nonsense
versus political- small-budget-art-house fare. Because Iron Man heralded the awakening of
a new type of commercial-political filmmaking that has – in its own way – changed cinema
for the better. And this priceless ability to blend politics
with commerce is something I believe Bollywood can learn from. In 2010, in Dharamsala, I saw Samdhong Rinpoche
– ex PM of the Tibetan Government in Exile and close friend of the Dalai Lama – questioned
by young Tibetans frustrated with a lack of action from the elders when it came to freeing
Tibet. The Rinpoche asked them where Tibet was. When they pointed out its geographical location,
he said to them that Tibet was any place a Tibetan stood on and that for him saving Tibet
meant saving the culture and knowledge of Tibet, not necessarily the physical place. Now watch this scene from Thor Ragnarok where
a once proud and powerful race is decimated, their home destroyed by an evil force. Even when you had two eyes…
you’d see only half the picture. She’s too strong. Without my hammer, I can’t. Are you Thor,
the God of Hammers? Hmm? That hammer was to help you
control your power, to focus it. It was never your source
of strength. It’s too late. She’s already taken Asgard. Asgard is not a place. Never was. This could be Asgard. Asgard is where
our people stand. Even now, right now,
those people need your help. I’m not as strong as you. No…
you’re stronger. Tell me, brother. What were you
the god of again? Ragnarok, for me, is not just a political
allegory to Tibet but carries a message for every immigrant across the world who thinks
she has lost her nation to either displacement or war. Ragnarok seems to tell them: you are your country. Sorry Tony. You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any
other choice. But he’s my friend. So was I? When American homes were divided in the middle
on Republican and Democrat lines during Donald Trump’s campaign, Captain America – Civil
War brought the civil war inside homes into the superhero realm with themes that continue
to oppose everything Donald Trump stands for. No commercial film has managed to instil black
pride in as strong a fashion as Black Panther which many African-Americans saw as a, yes
exaggerated, but also an alternate reality of what Africa could have been like – an
amalgamation of technology and culture, modernity and tradition – if the Whites hadn’t ravaged
it for hundreds of years. Now, for the supervillain of them all – Thanos. He is created in the image of every bigoted,
genocidal, dictatorial, fascist ruler there ever has been in the world. Some would say that Thanos has a lot in common
with a few current global leaders. And that traditional superhero, Captain America,
what is he all about? My grandmother has more life in her,
God rest her soul. Move it! You’re not really thinking
about picking Rogers, are you? I’m more than just thinking about it. He is the clear choice. When you brought a 90-pound
asthmatic onto my army base, I let it slide. I thought, “What the hell.” Maybe he’d be useful to you,
like a gerbil. I never thought you’d pick him. Up. You stick a needle in that kid’s arm,
it’s gonna go right through him. Come on, girls. Look at that. He’s making me cry. I am looking for qualities
beyond the physical. Do you know how long it took
to set up this project? All the groveling I had to do
in front of Senator What’s-His-Name’s committees? Brandt Yes, I know. I am well aware of your efforts. Then throw me a bone. Hodge passed every test we gave him. He’s big, he’s fast. He obeys orders. He’s a soldier. He is a bully. You don’t win wars
with niceness, Doctor. You win wars with gut s . Grenade! Get away! Get back! It was a dummy grenade. All clear. Back in formation. Is this a test? He’s still skinny. The 22 Marvel films over the last 11 years
have addressed a variety of real political issues – be it of surveillance, privacy, fascism,
immigration, genocide… The political undertones are not always covert
and hidden, but often open for any politically conscious being to see. And best of all, the Marvel films are not
just a good versus evil fare. Yes, there are outer worldly creatures who
want to destroy us but in most of the films, the enemy is within. Tony Stark and his inability to be a team
player, emerge as a kind of villain in a few films, while the actual villain in some – Loki
– tries to save the day in others. Indian commercial cinema, sadly, has a much
smaller history of political filmmaking than Hollywood. One can understand why. The costs, compulsions and competitions are
prohibitively many in India. The ability to make money from films, few
and far between. Who has time for confusing politics? That is where Bollywood can learn from these
Marvel films. You don’t need to make a Peepli Live, because
the point is not necessarily to make a political film, but to understand that politics is the
underlying driver of everything in society. Be it a romantic love story, an action film
or even a drama, everything can have undertones of politics without being overtly political. Take Bajrangi Bhaijaan for instance. A simple story of a man trying to unite a
lost girl with her parents. What could be political about that? Turns out: everything, because the film dared
to talk about Islamophobia in a nation where intolerance is on the rise. Bajrangi Bhaijaan proved that at times, telling
a simple truth can be the most political act. Even if that truth is hidden under layers
of sugar coating. In an uncertain, constantly changing world
that we live in, we look for stories that helps make sense of this confusion, stories
that in some way are connected to the world around us. This space for narratives is what right wing
politicians the world over take advantage of when they take us to a ‘glorious past’
in order to make us forget the troubles of a crumbling present. What covertly political films like the Marvel
series thus do, is give us a release, give us a sense, a better understanding of politics. And in doing so plays a vital role in maintaining
the sanity of the world. And if we are to curb the rise of hate and
violence on the planet, such movies will play an increasingly crucial part. And just for that, if nothing else, the world
needs more Marvel films, not less. Thank you for watching and if you liked this
video, please share and subscribe and check out more videos o n my channel. Wakanda forever. Our very strengths,
Invites challenges Challenge incites culture Culture brings catastrophe A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts We’re in the endgame now Before we’re done We still have one promise to keep If we can’t protect the earth Then we damn sure will avenge it Whatever it takes

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