Q.: What is Your Holiness’s assessment of the impact of films on the morals of the masses?
H.H.: Like nuclear power, the cinema can be put both to constructive and destructive uses. I welcome it as an art form, and as a contribution to science. But its uses, in my opinion, are limited. Documentary and educational films dealing with subjects such as geography, science, medicine, engineering, technology and so on are certainly helpful to humanity. Feature films dealing with so called social themes have no justification at all. Social reform should not be the objective of our films. It is tragic that modesty and dignity are no longer the proud possessions of our women who, by adopting the cinema as their career, have become vulgar exhibitionists. In ancient India, women surrendered themselves to their husbands as willingly as sishyas effaced themselves in the presence of their gurus.
The lure of the movies has resulted in shocking lapses from morals. One cannot imagine the mischief films can do. In our ancient land, women and children are ruined beyond redemption. As I have already said, the cinema, like nuclear power, can be directed to creative purposes. After all, it is only an instrument and it has noble as well as ignoble uses. Women acting on the stage are all right. For their duties are traditional. The men and women belonging to the community known by various names such as Bharataputras, Kalavantas, or Bhatrajulu are recognised by the caste system and acting is their profession. It is their allotted task. Women outside this class are not authorised to play any roles. Even the professional actresses appear on the stage only to assist their husbands. I am sure you are aware of the nati-sutra-dhara tradition. So no moral code is violated. I have in mind the conditions that prevailed in the remote past. Today, of course, who has the authority to lay down the law, especially for our movie-makers who seem to be a law unto themselves? They are on a perpetual picnic.