A scene from Raja Harishchandra (1913) – The first full-length motion picture. And Devika Rani and Ashok Kumar inAchhut Kanya (1936).
By GAURAV YADAV
CESP (MA), 4th Semester
India has one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world. Indian Cinema is one of most vibrant cultural products and a major industry which is as old as Hollywood . It produces around a quarter of the world's films; its 13,000 cinema halls have a daily audience of around 15 million and many of these films are hugely popular overseas. has not one, but several filmic styles which can be distinguished in terms of film-making (methods of production and distribution), the film text (technical and stylistic features, language) and by the film's reception (by the audience and by critics). These styles cover "art" cinema, made in several Indian languages, including English and "commercial" cinemas, also made in several languages. The commercial cinema of Bombay (Mumbai), made in the national language, Hindi has established itself as the national cinema, and although its reference may be national, it shares the key features of melodrama, the use of song and dance, and the operation of a star system with cinema across Bollywood. Indian Cinema beginning can be traced on July 7, 1896 with a screening of the Lumiere Brothers' Cinematograph films in Bombay . Yet the first entirely Indian-made film, Raja Harischandra, (produced and directed by DG Phalke) was released in 1913. Phalke was inspired to make a film about Indian mythology after seeing a film about the life of Christ. His style of film drew on emerging modern "Indian" art forms, chromolithography and photography, religious processions and performances, folk and urban theatre, and foreign cinema. This new hybrid created by Phalke became the norm immediately in three of Indian cinema's popular genres: the mythological, the devotional (films about the lives of saints) and the historical. Other genres, grouped loosely as "social films", set in contemporary, were also established during the silent period. The coming of sound with the first Indian talkie, Alam Ara (1931), soon divided the cinema audiences. Bombay became the centre of the Hindi-Urdu film, using a form of spoken language, which was understood at varying levels over much of north. Hindi was later to become the (contested) national language of, like Urdu was to. This Hindi-Urdu film evolved a style which would be seen as national, while the other cinemas began to be regarded as local or regional. Following independence in 1947, the 1950s and 60s are regarded as the "Golden Age" of Indian cinema in terms of films, stars, music and lyrics. Genre was loosely defined, the most popular being "socials", films which addressed the social problems of citizens in the newly developing state. This era saw the emergence of director/producers such as Raj Kapoor (Shree 420 /The Fraud 1955), Guru Dutt (Pyaasa/Thirst 1957), Mehboob Khan (Mother India 1957), BR Chopra (Naya Daur /A New Age 1957) and Bimal Roy (Madhumati1958). Meanwhile, Satyajit Ray, who made his first film, Pather Panchali /Song of the road, in 1955 with help from the West Bengal government, established himself as one of the world's great film makers and was given international recognition when he was awarded an Oscar for lifetime achievement (1992). There was a broad engagement in the popular cinema by the left wing intelligentsia and those more loosely associated with the Progressive Writers Association and the Indian People’s Theatre Association: Bijon Bhattacharya, Ritvik Ghatak, K.A Abbas, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chunghtai, Bimal Roy, Chetan Anand amongst the better known Directors and scenarists; Balraj Sahni, Dev Anand, Prithviraj Kapoor amongst the actors; Kaifi Azmi, Anil Biswas, Salil Chowdhary, Bhupen Hazarika and Sahir Ludhianvi amongst the lyricists, dialogue writers and music composers. The...