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The Introduction of Cinema in India

The Introduction of Cinema in India

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Published by Erin Parker

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Published by: Erin Parker on Dec 11, 2009
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The introduction of cinema in India
1896 - 1910
 Hiralal SenCinema was introduced to India on July 7, 1896. It began with theLumiere Brothers' Cinematography, unveiling six silent short films at the Watson Hotelin Bombay, namely Entry of Cinematographe, The Sea Bath, Arrival of a Train, ADemolition, Ladies & Soldiers on Wheels and Leaving the Factory[1]. The Times of India carried details of the "Living Photographic Pictures in Life-Size Reproductions byMssrs. Lumiere Brotheres". In the same year, the Madras Photographic Store advertised"animated photographs". Daily screenings of films commenced in Bombay in 1897 byClifton and Co.'s Meadows Street Photography Studio.In 1898, Hiralal Sen started filming scenes of theatre productions at the ClassicTheatre in Calcutta, inspired by Professor Stevenson (who had brought to India thecountry's first bioscope)'s, film presentation alongside the stage production of The Flower Of Persia; his debut was a contribution to this presentation. He continued making similar films to complement theatrical productions, which were shown as added attractionsduring intermission, in private screenings for high society households or taken to distantvenues where the stage performers could not reach. Lord and Lady Curzon on Elephant, Coronation Durbar, Delhi, 1903Harishchandra BhatvadekarHarischandra Sakharam Bhatvadekar alias Save Dada, whohad attended the show, imported a cine-camera from London at a price of 21 guineas andfilmed the first Indian documentary, a wrestling match in Hanging Gardens, Bombay, in1897. In 1901, he recorded the return from Cambridge of 'Wrangler' Ragunath P.Paranjpye, who had secured a distinction in mathematics from Cambridge University,and M M Bhownuggree, considered the first Indian news film. [2][3]. He also filmedLord Curzon (the Viceroy of India)'s Delhi Durbar that marked the enthronement of Edward VII in 1903.The commercial potential of cinema was also tested during the time. F.B.Thanewala's "Grand Kinetoscope Newsreels" is one successful case. J.F. Madan wasanother highly successful film producer, who released hit films like Satyavadi RajaHarishchandra and Bilwamangal; also, he launched Madan Theatres Limited, which became India's largest film production-distribution-exhibition company and the biggestimporter of American films after World War I. His films were marked by a high degreeof technical sophistication, facilitated by his employment of experienced foreign directorslike Eugenio De Liguoro and Camille Legrand. This expertise was complemented bygrand sets and popular mythological storylines which ensured good returns.
 
1910-1920
 A scene from Raja HarishchandraThe first feature film made in India was anarrative named Pundalik, by N.G. Chitre and R.G. Torney. The first full-length Indianfeature film was Raja Harishchandra (3700 feet as compared to 1500 for Pundalik), madein 1913 and released commercially in May that year, by Dadasaheb Phalke. Phalke hadattended a screening of The Life of Christ at P.B. Mehta's American-Indian Cinema andwas inspired to make films himself. He was convinced of the possibility of establishingan indigenous film industry by focussing on Indian themes. In this regard, he said Likethe life of Christ, we shall make pictures on Rama and Krishna. The film was about anhonest king who for the sake of his principles sacrifices his kingdom and family beforethe gods, who are impressed with his honesty and restore him to his former glory. Thefilm was a success, and Phalke went on to make more mythological films till the adventof talkies, and commercialization of Indian films lessened his popularity.[4].In 1916, Universal Pictures set up Hollywood's first Indian agency (seeHollywood meets India, below). The first South Indian feature was Rangaswamy Nataraja Mudaliar's Keechaka Vadham, released in 1918.[5] The following year, he madethe film Draupadi Vastrapaharanam, featuring Anglo-Indian actress Marian Hill who played the role of Draupadi.
Regional film industries
A cinema hall in DelhiIndia is a large country where many languages are spoken.According to the 1991 Census of India there are about 10,400 'raw mother tongues' inIndia. If closely related and mutually comprehensible dialects are grouped, the number can be reduced to 1576 ‘rationalised’ mother tongues, or with even more consolidation,114 main languages. These 114 languages are the ones surveyed in the Indian census.[6]Indian film producers have made films in thirty of the largest languages. However, onlythe very largest language groups support major regional industries. These are: Hindi,Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam. Official statistics categoriseIndian films according to the languages in which they are distributed.There is a great deal of mobility between the regional industries. Many workers inother regional industries, once their talent and popularity is established, move on to work in other film industries, nationally as well as internationally. For example, A. R. Rahman,one of the best known film music composers in Indian cinema, started his career in Tamilcinema in Chennai but has since worked in Bollywood, London, and New York.Similarly, films that succeed in one language are often remade or dubbed in others. Films
 
like Padosan and Roja, for example, were re-made or dubbed from their original Bengaliand Tamil versions respectively, into Hindi.The Tollywood industry is the largest(243 Movies a year) in terms of films produced and box office receipts. Distinctions between regional cinemas may be erodingwith the new practice of simulaneous release in several languages. Producers used to behighly cost-conscious; they would only pay to have a film dubbed into another languageif it had been a hit in the first language. Dubbed films were always later re-releases. Nowfilm-makers are releasing versions in multiple languages simulaneously. One journalistcredits this innovation to the Telugu movie industry [7]. It has been picked up byBollywood as well.
The Hindi film industry
The Hindi film industry, based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), largest branch of the cinema. Hindi film Industry is often called 'Bollywood' (a melding of Hollywood andBombay). The word "Bollywood" is sometimes applied to Indian cinema as a whole,especially outside South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, but this usage is incorrect.Bollywood has been recently greatly criticized for what critics see as a violation of Indiancultural values and its discussion of controversial topics. It is considered the most liberalout of the Indian language film industries.Regional movies are distinctively different to Bollywood (Hindi) movies. As thestories and themes of the movie portray the culture of the region. While most Bollywoodmovies nowadays are greatly influenced by western culture.Although Bollywood can beconsidered to be largest in terms of viewers.It is believed that 95% of the IndianPopulation watch Bollywood. Due to more people watching Bollywood films, it hastherfore has international recognition espcially in Western Countries such as the UK,USA and Australia.
The Tamil film industry
The Tamil film industry, based in the Kodambakkam area of Chennai is one of the biggest regional film industries in India. Nicknamed 'Kollywood', it is one of the mostsuccessful film industries in India, and its popularity is not limited to India butworldwide. Tamil films are especially popular in countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore,Japan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and the United States. Thesefilms often get dubbed or remade in other languages like Telugu, Hindi, and so have wideviewership. Prominent examples of Tamil films dubbed into other Indian languages arefilm director Mani Ratnam's Roja and Bombay. Anniyan, a recent Tamil film became thefirst Indian film to be dubbed into French.

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