Ricciotto Canudo an Italian film theoretician has described cinema as a combination of the spatial arts and the temporal arts, in other words a film is a combination of music and dance on one hand and a suitable story supported with adequate presentation and imagery on the other. So although what we see in reel life may be true, it is substantially regulated and designed with a certain objective in mind, it is a result of concoction. Whereas real life is beyond any definition or explanation if we try to define real life it can fill hundreds and thousands of books due to its vastness, uncertainty and complexity. Hence the concepts and issues which arise in real life will outnumber those in reel life substantially. Reel life is a part of real life infact it originates from real life. One of the major functions of reel life is to portray social reality in a systematic manner, its important that reel life has to be significant in the era in which it is made and showed. A very good example in this context is the transition between films of Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachan. In the Rajesh Khanna films of early seventies like Anand and Bavarcheee many socialist values get reflected, values like fairness, equity and justice are reflected in these films because at that time Nehruvian socialism was predominant. Whereas in the Amitabh Bachan films of late seventies and early eighties the concept of the “angry young man” is used to show the frustrations of the people then due to the economic crisis and the introduction of mills which lead to the exploitation of the proletariat, all this was reflected through the angry young man.
Now the rural population and people from the lower social strata may be desirous of imitating reel life, but mere desire cannot lead to imitation, imitating reel life requires monetary backing and strong economic background which is absent in the people of the lower social strata, hence imitation by a large number of people is out of question.
If we observe reel life in its totality which includes not just films but also page 3, media and the add world we find that only those things get portrayed which sell easily. For e.g., if it’s a movie it has to be a good story, a good actor, a captivating performance if its media it has to be some sensational news and other things. Whereas real life is not just about selling or acting or presenting, real life involves real situations real people and it may not always be very interesting and worth selling.
Another very important aspect is that real is driven by several ideologies, Joseph Stiligitz former chief economist at the World Bank mentions in his book that even economic and financial decisions at the World Bank were often made on the basis of ideologies and not solely on the basis of facts. Ideology therefore is an intrinsic part of real life, whereas reel life is not based on any specific ideology, its sole purpose is to attract public attention, do better business increase TRPs etc.
Some of my learned friends made a point that many people especially the youth lust for reel life at the expense of real life, now they may desire it, but imitation is not possible because the circumstances in real and reel are different, ideologies are different, and purpose is different. They may at the most imitate the clothes, accessories and fashion, but that forms a very minuscule part of what life is, we are debating whether real life imitates reel life and just because there is imitation in terms fashion that doesn’t mean life also in these two becomes similar.