by Dhiren Ganguly in his brilliant satirical comedy -
(1921) - presumablythe first 'social satire' on Indians obsessed with Western values. And with that another genre of Indian cinema known as 'the contemporary social' slowly emerged. BaburaoPainter followed it up with another significant film in 1925 -
(The IndianShylock) - an attempt at realistic treatment of the Indian peasant exploited by the greedymoneylender.In Bengal, a region rich in culture and intellectual activity, the first Bengali feature film in1917, was remake of Phalke's
Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra
, itwas directed by Rustomjee Dotiwala. Less prolific than Bombay based film industry, around122 feature films were made in Calcutta in the Silent Era.The first feature film in Tamil, also the first in entire South India,
wasmade during 1916-17, directed by Nataraja Mudaliar.
(1931) produced by R Sunder Raj, under Shri.Rajeswari Film, Nagercoil,directed by P V Rao, got into a legal tangle and was withdrawn after its premiere. Based ona celebrated novel by C V Raman Pillai, the film recounts the adventures of the crownprince and how he eliminates the arch-villains to become the unquestioned ruler of theTravancore State. The film has title cards in English and Malayalam, some of which aretaken from the original text. A few of the title cards and action make obvious reference tothe Swadeshi Movement of the time. Had it not been for the legal embargo, the film wouldhave had a great impact on the regional cinema of the South.
Indian Cinema Starts Talking
In the early thirties, the silent Indian cinema began to talk, sing and dance.
produced by Ardeshir Irani (Imperial Film Company), released on March 14, 1931 wasthe first Indian cinema with a sound track.Mumbai became the hub of the Indian film industry having a number of self-containedproduction units. The thirties saw hits like
Miss Frontier Mail
Among the leading filmmakers of Mumbai during the forties, V Shantaram was arguably themost innovative and ambitious. From his first talkie
Ayodhya ka Raja
(1939),it was clear that he was a filmmaker with a distinct style and social concern whose filmsgenerated wide discussion and debate. He dealt with issues like cast system, religiousbigotry and women's rights. Even when Shantaram took up stories from the past, he usedthese as parables to highlight contemporary situations. While
(1934)opposed the senseless violence of Hindu rituals,
(1935) dealt withBrahmanical orthodoxy and cast system. Originally titled
, the film was entirelybanned by the colonial censor on the ground that it treated a sacred subject irreverently anddealt with controversial politics.
(1936) was an allegory on the oppression of women in which the protagonist seeks revenge. It could perhaps be called the first women'slib film in India.