Every culture, consciously or unconsciously, tries to dictate the classic embodiments of the Apollonian-Dionysian divide, among its dominant cultural figures. Soumitra Chatterjee was always compared with Uttam Kumar, no matter how hard it was for them, critics and cinephiles always hailed Chatterjee as the perfect counterfoil to the matinee darling Uttam Kumar. For years now, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth have also faced the same art|entertainment divide.
Indian cinema, over years have come to be differentiated into masala cinema and parallel cinema. These are analogous to entertainment and art respectively. Film as a form of art is within the same classification as literature, music and theatre, whose purpose, by and large, is to both entertain and to allow the artistic expression of the creator. These mediums are separate from those of painting, sculpture and architecture, both because they demand to be separate by their very nature, and also due to the traditions and mind-sets of the society which appreciates them.
It is interesting to note that the art | entertainment divide is slowly melting away (at a price of-course). The traditional values of cinema are slowly changing. The rise of entertaining yet artistic directors like Anurag Kashyap is a testament to this change. The new breed of ‘artistic’ Hollywood directors- Nolan, Aronofsky, Tarantino, Coen brothers, etc- are all entertaining. Unfortunately, with all these modern directors, who are undoubtedly skilled, the subtle form of artistry is slowly vanishing. The skill which was mastered by the likes of Kurosawa, Ray, Godard, Bergman and Fellini are slowly changing. Subtleness is being replaced by more and more surrealism. No wonder the films these directors make have a lot of violence, black humour, thrill and sci-fi aspects. The genres of comedies, tragedies and romances are slowly becoming obsolete. The path cinema takes in the years to come will be an interesting thing to watch.