Saturday, February 18, 2006

Researchers and Film-makers

The other day, standing in front of the DDLJ poster in front of the mess, Karthik and I were chatting. I remarked that after DDLG it became Shahrukh's professional commitment to swoop away with the heroine just when she's going to get married to someone else. Kucch Kucch Hota Hai, Dil To Pagal Hai, Veer Zaaraa and I think some more of them. Perhaps it makes him look very heroic and manly to be able to pull the heroine out of her worldly commitments by his charms. Whatever!

Then we thought that it's always shown in movies that guy loves girl, girl loves guy, they get separated, they go against the world, and they get married. If you see movies assuming that they are an honest representation of the society, then you would tend to think that the biggest and the most prevalent tragedy in the romantic world is the separation of the hero and heroine tied through a bond of mutual love. And hence, it's the onus of all the film-makers to get together and show this evil and the ways to fight it. Just as they show other social evils (like corruption, violence etc), and methods the hero employs to tackle these.

Even if we don't consider the unrealisticness of the ways and means a hero employs (either going and spraying bullets at ten gundaas, or gatecrashing into the heroines marriage) to solve his problems, there is a big snag.

The fact is: this problem of love happening and the zamaanaa coming in its way is a negligible problem compared to things which happen before the love happens. I think the biggest problem of the love matters is its one-sidedness in most cases. I think thousands of hearts break everyday due to the emotion residing in one heart never communicating to the other. Then, even if it's communicated, it doesn't contract. The number of people suffering from this evil is far more numerous than the one film-makers show happening in every story and getting solved in the end.

I feel, in this regard, film-makers are like researchers. Researchers know of a plenty of problems which are far more serious than the ones they solve. But they stick to solving a very small class of problems which are dwarved both in terms of their importance and in terms of their difficulty in comparison to a lot many more other problems. A quick example from my field: Regular languages form a very small subset of all the languages in Chomsky hierarchy. Of all languages, regular ones are the only decideable class. That is, a question posed in the form of a regular expression can be answered in finite time in general. As a result, we keep talking about finite state systems, simply because we just don't know how to handle the other cases! Similar case exists in the field of electrical and mechanical engineering where most real problems are inherently non-linear. But since, it's usually computationally infeasible to tackle non-linearities per se, they keep solving problems in the linear domain, which actually is a very small subset of all existing problems.

People very well know that there're bigger and more difficult problems to solve, but they keep talking of the easier ones, and try to convince themselves and others that those are the most important problems. It's not like that though.


Anonymous said...

Good comparison of researchers and film makers. I'm happy to be part of the discussion and leading to an excellant analogy.

Looking forward to more from you.


Sujit Kumar Chakrabarti said...

Thanks Karthik! Ha ha! :)