Climate change, it is imperative to take a closer look at our evolving relationship with the environment. There is more to it than just warm temperatures. It is only up to a point that the atmosphere and oceans can absorb or combat weather extremes and natural disasters.
The urgency of reversing the damage calls for simple approaches that encourage result-oriented initiatives at the grassroots. The performing arts and cinema shape our thoughts and guide our ideologies. Songs entertain and connect people, often with a message embedded in a popular voice, influencing our view of the ecological paradigm. Feelings arise, and reactions follow.
The famous Khoya Khoya Chand, written by Shailendra and performed by Mohammed Rafi in Kala Bazaar, is reminiscent of the pristine skies and freshness of the 60s. Written by Bharat Vyas for Mukesh in the 1967 film Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, Yeh Kaun Chitrakar Hai has an infectious positivity that reveres the magnificence of nature.
However, the 70s were a curtain raiser to “sombre ambient”. The 1971 Billboard chartbuster Marvin Gaye’s song Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) expressed environmental degradation with its lyrics: “Where have all the blue skies gone? Poisoned air…” Singers Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, and Neil Young, among others, continued to inspire and pray as “ambassadors for environmental awareness”.
Music and songs gave way to a mixture of feature films and documentaries, leading to an existential crisis. A Hollywood release, The Day After Tomorrow told a modern, dystopian Ice-Age tale fueled by fears of nature’s wrath. The futuristic thriller, Waterworld, imagines a submerged Earth traversed by Kevin Costner, who plays the Mariner. Although sounding unrealistic and exaggerated, it is a possibility based on a 2015 study by the journal Science.
The Oscar winner, An Inconvenient Truth, was inspired by presentations compiled over the years by Al Gore. It solidified the concepts of global warming and the greenhouse effect. Before The Flood, an award-winning documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio, introducing the concept of a carbon tax and the development of renewables with corporate involvement, reached 60 million viewers.
Years of Living Dangerously, a National Geographic series, examined the effects of climate change in a variety of world habitats. The focus was on renewable energy, fossil fuels and carbon emissions, with active participation from celebrities and global leaders.
Bollywood took note of the bitter wind in 2017. A story centred on drought and failed crops, it was a sobering reminder of where we are headed. Gulzar’s theme poem, Mausam Begar Hota Hai Hai, against the backdrop of destruction, expresses the sentiments poignantly. Kedarnath (2018), a tapestry of fact and fiction surrounding the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand, conveys a cryptic message about the climate disaster that affected over 4000 villages in the Rudraprayag district, largely attributed to human apathy and indifference.
Conspiracies of global catastrophe make humans victims of fear. Such is the structure of our mind. To affect change, we need to see less of an apocalypse and more of a “restoration cinema” that infuses hope for a positive future. A shift is underway, away from the mayhem, to friendly filmmaking. Topics that suggest solutions and inspire optimism are gaining wider acceptance.
French cinema’s initiative “Le rechauffement climatique” (Global warming), Damen (Tomorrow) was acknowledged as creative and creative. More than a film, it was “the beginning of a movement”. In addition to political venues, the film was shown in every school in Brussels! 2040, an Australian documentary released in 2019, according to the New York Times, “is an accessible, informative and optimistic approach to addressing the climate crisis”. The directors offer their four-year-old daughter a “utopian future” in the hope that climate anomalies can be mitigated by the conscientious implementation of remedial measures.
Florida-based Cinema Verde (Green Cinema), among a few other such global initiatives, has an artistic approach to storytelling. Well-curated films on diverse environmental issues, both fiction and non-fiction, offer sustainable solutions on this streaming platform and through global satellite screening.
A recent Indian effort, Faces of Climate Resilience, is a documentary series of 16 stories that capture the spirit of climate resilience. Inspiring, focusing on myriad real-life experiences and solutions, they attracted a large audience with the dedicated participation of mainstream actors and celebrities popular in the region as a run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt last year. class and provide a deep impact similar to brand endorsement. Seductive lyrics, timely imagery and a compelling script make a surefire cocktail to fuel collective motivation.