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Such tears of happiness

We weep through sad movies, elated that we have so much to be happy about. Do pass us that hanky.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2012 21:50 IST

There is good news for writers and directors of Bollywood masala films from the researchers of Ohio State University. They can carry on making tearjerkers and raking in the moolah as they have done for years, since it has now been proved scientifically that sad films make people happy. The study reveals that most people enjoy watching screen tragedies because it pushes them to reflect on their own relationships. The study lead, Associate Professor Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, said when people watch tragic movies, they try to match it against how they are faring in their own lives and a “count-your blessings” mentality brightens their mood in the short-term. The operative word, dear readers, is, of course, “short-term”. The study is based on previous studies that showed that sad episodes in our lives make us thoughtful.

The study team showed an abridged version of Atonement, a film on war-torn lovers, to an audience of 361 students. The team monitored the responses of the students before, during and after the screening. Then the students were asked a series of questions measuring their happiness as well as rating the emotions they were feeling throughout the film. The findings conclude that people are suckers for such sad but mushy movies.

But why should we stop at movies? One can draw a parallel and say that sad poems, novels and any art work for that matter can control and impact our moods. Or if we flip the theory upside down, we can say movies with happy endings can make us feel really sad because we can never achieve such picture-perfect lives. As we said earlier, the operative word is short-term. Like all kinds of mood up-lifters we know of, these ones too are temporary reprieves from a daily war called life. But a bit of feel-good even brought on by schmaltzy celluloid dramas never did anyone any harm.