The Financial Express


Unstoppable march of new reality

Unstoppable march of new reality

Even many decades after people in the Indian sub-continent became acquainted with moving sound pictures on screen, i.e. cinema, the rural Bangladesh remained stuck in the culture of 'bioscope'. It centred round still pictures glued to one another. Those were made to roll on, containing attractive views of nature, kings and queens, imposing edifices etc. The scenarios could be seen through magnifying glass-fittedhand-cupped eyes.

Mainly women and children were the bioscope viewers. They were required to sit before the wonder-holes in rows. A show would last five to seven minutes at best. After the release of 'Raja Harishchandra' (1913), the first silent movie in British-India, these bioscopes remained in the list of cheap entertainments. Apart from villages, even neighbourhoods in Dhaka and other cities were acquainted with the view of 'cinemawallahs' running their shows on lanes and by-lanes. Amazingly, the spectacle was part of Dhaka even in the 1960s. Normally, hordes of children would follow the bioscope men walking from dawn to dusk carrying the 'bioscope boxes' and a mid-size bench, calling children and women to their shows. The still photograph-based bioscope received a big jolt after the end of the World War-II. By that time the silent film era had veritably petered out to make space for the sound films, known as 'talkies' in common jargon. Full-length sound films, both colonial Indian and Western, overwhelmed the bioscope culture. The British rulers of India used the sound films initially for war-time propaganda purpose. From the 1930s on, 'AlamAra'-pioneered feature films dominated the sub-continent's film scenario.

This major cultural watershed drove the last nail in the coffin of the bioscope tradition in colonial India. But as part of a funny twist in public taste, the sub-continent's 'bioscopewallahs' were found moving triumphantly along the village and city streets. These long-time entertainers began to finally fade out from the public view with the sprouting of movie theatres in urban localities, sending them to remote areas.

Along with the movie-loving people's rush to the theatres, the trend displayed a few basic human instincts. Man loves to devise newer mediums of communication and that of aesthetic expressions befitting the demands of time. The information and communication technology along with its allied online facilities were beyond the furthest recess of human imagination, even three decades ago. Nowadays, gateways leading to global internet connections etc have become integral to modern way of life. Unlike in the case of post-World War-II times making propaganda sound films in Europe, the continent couldn't come up with any novel campaign to make people aware of the Black Death pandemic. The deadly scourge ravaged Europe intermittently for 400 years. There were no organised medically-driven efforts to stem and stop re-emergence of the terrible sweep during and immediately after the epidemic's outbreak. The bubonic plague and flue-dominant pandemics wiped out millions of people from Europe starting from the Middle-Ages.

Scientific and medical interventions in pandemics were still an alien idea in the world. Instead, the business of quacks, witch doctors, faith healers et al was at its height during the outbreak of these scourges. To the shock of these phony professionals, they emerged fully redundant after the start of the drop in the intensity of the Black Death.  In the later centuries, the invention and introduction of radically effective cures, like those coming from penicillin and antibiotic medicines, caused a revolution of sorts. It led to the uprooting of the curative baggage of archaic medical remedies.

Lifestyles have kept changing since the dawn of modern times. Those were necessitated by human convenience and endless innovations. Few had thought that the features of 'new reality' like webinars, video conferences etc would one day become a part of our day-to-day life.

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