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History of Indian Cinema

The Silent Era


The birth of Cinema in India can be attributed to the Lumiere brother`s.
Only a few months after the Lumiere brothers introduced the art of
cinematography in Paris in 18!" cinema made it`s presence felt in India.
The Lumiere brothers` held their #rst public showing at $umbai`s %atson`s
&otel on 'uly (" 18).
The Lumiere brothers thus pioneered the art of flm-making in
India with the astonishing invention of CINE!
The Lumiere brothers` Cinematographe #rst show was a silent mo*ie for 1+
minutes. ,i- items" . /ntry of Cinematographe" The ,ea 0ath" 1rri*al of a
Train" 1 2emolition" Ladies 3 ,oldiers on %heels" and Lea*ing the 4actory
played at the %atson &otel.
5i*en the `magic` 6uality normally associated with #lms and the potential
mass appeal of cinema" it came as no surprise that Indians soon entered
the domain of #lmma7ing. The frst Indian to make a flm was
Haris"handra #$ %hatvadekhar& popularly known as #ave 'ada. &e
was a still photographer" a dealer in e6uipment and an e-hibitor of #lms.
&is interests led him naturally to the art of cinema.
The public re"eption a""orded to (rangler )aran*pye at Chowapatty
on his return from /ngland with the co*eted distinction he got at
Cambridge was "overed by %hatwadekar. &e was the #rst Indian to
produce a #lm. !ll he had with him was a pro*e"tor" but he didn`t ha*e
a camera" so he got one from London and shot only + s"enes of ,
minutes ea"h& whi"h were titled 'o )ahalwanon -i -ushti and
%andar -o Na"hata Hua adaari$ It was released in 2ecember 18...
the birth of the frst Indian topi"al or a"tuality flm.
In /01/& Hiralal #en made his mark as a flm produ"er with a deep
interest in Indian history and mythology.
The frst de"ade of the +1th "entury saw live and re"orded
performan"es being "lubbed together in the same program. The
strong in8uence of traditional arts" music" dance and popular theatre on the
cinema mo*ement in India in its early days is probably responsible for its
characteristic enthusiasm for inserting song and dance se6uences in Indian
cinema" e*en today
0y now" Indian audiences were increasingly being e-posed to %estern
#lms. &ence" the fascination with longer narrati*es and the desire to see
Indian e-periences and characters on screen resulted in the #rst e*er
mythological #lm produced in India by 9.5. Tomey`s" which was :Pundali7:.
It was shown in 11; and based on the legend associated with a well.
7nown $aharashtrian saint.
The honour of ma7ing the #rst Indian feature #lm by an Indian goes to
2hundira< 5o*ind Phal7e. &is 9a<a &arischandra released on =rd $ay 11="
was totally Indian in terms of production" and was shown as an independent
and self.contained wor7 in its own right. &is !+.minute #lm 9a<a
&arischandra" which was instantly successful" due to the splendid special
e>ects he created. It laid the foundation for a thri*ing #lm industry in India
and for a *astly popular genre of mythological #lms.
1s cinema began to grow more and more popular among the masses and a
lucrati*e industry was established" a number of indubitably gifted #lm
directors made their debut? among them ,uchat ,ingh" 2hiren 5anguli"
&imansu 9ai and @. ,hantaram.
$any good #lms made during this initial period were greatly inspired by the
two celebrated epics . the 9amayana and the $ahabharata.
The coming of the Talkies
Antil now all #lms were silent. 1t the beginning of the Bth decade" the #lm
*iewers were bestowed with a surprising gift" the silent era had ended" and
#lms now had sound" so we could hear actors and actresses tal7ing. In
1=1 came the #rst Indian tal7ieC 1lam 1ra. Produced by Imperial 4ilm
Company and directed by 1rdeshir Irani. It was dubbed in both &indi and
Ardu. The #lm too7 months to ma7e because of recording diDculties? with
no sound.proof studios" shooting was done indoors and at night.
$icrophones had to be hidden in incredible places to a*oid being captured
in the *isual recording of the mo*ie. It was a costume drama full of fantasy
and with many melodious songs to intensify the audience`s emotions and it
was a stunning success. The #lm had ( songs and the music director was
4iroEeshah $. $istri.
The second tal7ie #lm released in India was ,hirin 4arhaad" on =+th $ay
1=1. It was produced by $adan Theatres" Calcutta and directed by its
owner $r. '.'. $adan. It had 18 songs. Indra ,abha which was released in
1=; had as much as ) songs in itF It was produced by $adan Theatre"
Calcutta
%ith the spreading popularity of this new medium of mass entertainment"
#lm directors became more audacious and e-plored new areas. The 1=+s
saw the emergence of a fascination with social themes that a>ected day to
day li*ing. @. ,hantaram" for e-ample" in his #lm 1mritmantha G1=BH.
0y the 1B+s" howe*er" a winning formula for success at the bo- oDce had
been forged" consisting of song" dance" spectacle" rhetoric and fantasy. 1
close and signi#cant relationship between the epic consciousness and the
art of cinema had been established. $oreo*er" #lm was increasingly being
recogniEed as a *ital instrument of social criticism. It was against this
bac7ground that #lm directors li7e @. ,hantaram" 9a< Iapoor" $ehboob
Ihan" 0imal 9oy had chosen to ma7e their #lms" #lms that were to
generate not only national but also international interest.
%hile the popular tradition of Indian #lmma7ing was de*eloping with
undiminished *igour" by the mid 1!+s" a distinctly `artistic` cinema too7
shape" than7s to the pioneering e>orts of the 0engali #lmma7er ,atya<it
9ay. &is Pather Panchali G,ong of the 9oadH of 1!! won for Indian cinema
great international recognition and critical acclaim. It was gi*en the `best
human document` award at the 1!) Cannes #lm festi*al and went on to
win awards at #lm festi*als in ,an 4rancisco" @ancou*er" Ontario and
elsewhere.
@ery 6uic7ly" a number of highly talented directors" including $rinal ,en"
1door 5opala7rishnan" 5. 1ra*indan" $ani Iaul" Iumar ,hahani"
0uddhadeb 2asgupta" 5autam 5hose" Ietan $ehta" 1parna ,en" 5o*ind
Jihalani" ,hyam 0enegal" @i<aya $ehta" ,ha<i Iaron emerged as able
e-positors of artistic cinema. Their body of wor7 is normally referred to as
Jew Cinema" as characterised by the 6ualities established by 9ay
The Golden Era:
It is the post independence period that saw the golden era of Indian cinema
with melodious socials 3 melodramas. 9a< Iapoor G9I 4ilmsH was one
e-ample. 1wara" made 0y 9a< Iapoor set the agenda for popular cinema
and was a hit within India as well as o*erseas. 1fter 9a< Iapoor" 2e* 1nand
set up Ja*7etan in 1B with his brother Chetan 1nand.
4ilms with *arious themes were now being made. The theme of lost
brothers was being repeated Gas many as !+ #lmsH. ,ide by side went on
the tear.<er7ing melodrama" mostly in the #lms of the genre of $eri 0ehan"
Choti 0ehan and the li7e. The humble position of the Indian bride was
highlighted in pictures li7e 5umasta G1!1H and the decoity aspect in #lms
li7e 5anga 'ammuna" 'is 2esh $ein 5anga 0ehti &ai and $u<he 'eena 2o. In
recent years this has produced a *ertable har*est of crude dacoit #lms"
spurred on by the spectacular success of ,holay.
These did create some sort of an o>beat cinema but" the #rst International
recognition came with ,atya<it 9ay`s Pather Panchali G1!!H" 1para<ito
G1!)H" and 1pur ,ansar G1!8H. ,atya<it 9ay is considered as one of the
greatest directors of all times. &e was awarded an Oscar for life time
achie*ement shortly before his death in 1!.
,o" the (+`s saw the birth of the parallel cinema which promoted realistic
cinema. 1t around the same time was born the long lasting trend on the
angry young man pitted against the /stablishment as represented by
1mitabh 0achchan" the superstar of the Indian 4ilm Industry. 1mitabh
0achchan was *irtually a one man industry and this trend lasted till the late
eighties. The 1d*ent of the @ideo and Cable Tele*ision in the late 8+`s
resulted in a dip in the bo- oDce collections but the industry managed with
a force" few people had e-pected.
The Present Scenario:
The Indian flm industry is the largest in the world in terms of tic7et sales
and number of #lms produced annually
India accounts for (=K of mo*ie admissions in the 1sia.Paci#c region" and
earnings are currently estimated at A,L8. billion. The industry is mainly
supported by the *ast cinema.going Indian public
Indian #lms are popular in *arious parts of the world" especially in countries
with signi#cant Indian communities
One third of the IndiaMs #lm industry is mostly concentrated in $umbai
G0ombayH" and is commonly referred to as :0ollywood: as an amalgamation
of 0ombay and &ollywood
The remaining ma<ority portion is spread across west 3 south India Gin
$arathi" Tamil" $alayalam and Telugu spea7ing areasH.
Indian #lms are made #lled with action" romance" comedy" dance and an
increasing number of special e>ects.The &indi #lm industry" based in
$umbai Gformerly 0ombayH" is the largest branch of Indian cinema. &indi
#lm Industry is often called M0ollywoodM
0ollywood has been recently greatly criticiEed for *iolation of Indian cultural
*alues and its discussion of contro*ersial topics. It is considered the most
liberal out of the Indian language #lm industries. 1lthough 0ollywood may
not distribute as many #lms" it can be considered to be the largest in terms
of *iewers.
0ollywood mo*ies are watched by a ma<ority of Indian mo*ie goers. It also
has international recognition" especially in %estern countries such as the
AI" A,1" Canada and 1ustralia" where there are large ,outh 1sian
communities.
In the ;+++s" 0ollywood began in8uencing %estern cinema" and played a
particularly instrumental role in the re*i*al of the 1merican musical #lm
genre. 0aE Luhrmann stated that his successful musical #lm Moulin Rouge!
G;++1H was directly inspired by 0ollywood musicals.
Lagaan G;++1H was nominated for the 1cademy 1ward for 0est 4oreign
Language 4ilm? and two other 0ollywood #lms Devdas G;++;H and Rang De
Basanti G;++)H were nominated for the 014T1 1ward for 0est 4oreign
Language 4ilm. 2anny 0oyleMs Slumdog Millionaire G;++8H" which has won
four 5olden 5lobes and eight 1cademy 1wards" it has also won 8 Oscars in
its name" it was also directly inspired by 0ollywood #lms" and is considered
to be a :homage to &indi commercial cinema:.
What now??
The ;+++s saw a growth in 0ollywoodMs popularity in the world. This led the
nationMs #lmma7ing to new heights in terms of 6uality" cinematography and
inno*ati*e story lines as well as technical ad*ances such as special e>ects"
animation etc. ,ome of the largest production houses" among them Nash
9a< 4ilms and 2harma Productions were the producers of new modern #lms.
The opening up of the o*erseas mar7et" more 0ollywood releases abroad
and the e-plosion of multiple-es in big cities" led to wider bo- oDce
successes in India and abroad" including Devdas" Koi... Mil Gaya" Rang De
Basanti" Lage Raho Munnabhai" Krrish" Dhoom 2" Om Shanti Om and
Ghajini" deli*ering a new generation of popular actors G&rithi7 9oshan"
1bhishe7 0achchanH and actresses G1ishwarya 9ai" Preity Ointa and 9ani
$u7er<iH" and 7eeping the popularity of actors of the pre*ious decade.
The Indian #lm industry has preferred #lms that appeal to all segments of
the audience and has resisted ma7ing #lms that target narrow audiences. It
was belie*ed that aiming for a broad spectrum would ma-imise bo- oDce
receipts. &owe*er" #lmma7ers may be mo*ing towards accepting some
bo-.oDce segmentation" between #lms that appeal to rural Indians" and
#lms that appeal to urban and o*erseas audiences.
The Indian 4ilm Industry has o*er the years come a long way from <ust being
mere entertainers. In todayPs society cinema plays a *ery important role in
shaping up the minds of the common man particularly the youth
Lets e-plore the ad*antages and the disad*antages of the Indian Cinema o*er
our society and the country as a whole.
Advantages:
Indian Cinema usually is of two types one whi"h provides
wholesome entertainment and the other whi"h leave us thinking
and enlightens us with a strong message by highlighting a fa"t
prevailing in our so"iety that otherwise had never stru"k us$
Chandni ar dire!ted by Madhur Bhandar"ar belongs to the latter
!ategory. On the #hole $%&'D'( B&R e)*lores the dar"er side o+
so!iety and is slightly heavy and de*ressing in its narration ho#ever it
has its share o+ entertaining moments as #ell. Moreover there,s no
denying that it,s a #ell-made .lm / that it !onveys a strong message
+rom the numerous girls #ho have been *ushed into the 0esh trade and
are made to do inhuman a!tivities.
2or most Indians& "inema is the enduring sour"e of the image of
their nation as a vast and diverse land$ 2or them its also the
primary sour"e of knowledge about our national heroes&
martyrs& the struggles and sa"rif"es of our forefathers& the
work of our so"ial reformers& the wars of the pre-and-post-
Independen"e era& in"luding the re"ent and ongoing war against
"ross-border terrorism& and our a"hievements as a free and
demo"rati" nation.
& Movie li"e La"shya de*i!ted the im*ortan!e o+ having a goal in li+e
and standing u* +or it and also gave us a taste o+ the (ndian &rmy1s
2hum*ing 3i!tory over the Kargil against 4a"istan. 5urther a movie li"e
the Legend O+ Bhagat Singh !learly made us +eel *roud o+ our +reedom
.ghters and also lighted u* a sense o+ res*e!t and res*onsibility
to#ards our o#n !ountry.
Jow a mo*ie li7e $y 0rother Ji7hil starring ,an<ay ,uri and 'uhi Chawla
re*ol*es around a topic which sent out a *ery stri7ing and strong
message to all. The mo*ie is based on the true.life e-periences of a gay
man in the southern state of 5oa in the late 18+s" "omes at a
parti"ularly opportune time as India "onfronts not only a
disease threatening millions of lives but also a serious legal
"hallenge to the "riminali3ation of homose4uality in this so"ially
"onservative "ountry$ This mo*ie had a *ery deep impact on the
minds of the *iewer and con*eyed the plight of an 1I2, patient$ It also
"onveyed a subtle message to the youngsters and also the
"ommon man about Homose4uality and the dangers involved if
pre"autions are not taken$
Indian Cinema is the re5e"tion of the Indian so"iety$ It re5e"ts
many of the trends& "urrent virtues& so"ial struggles and
patterns of living in a so"iety$ To a great e4tent "inema and
"ulture are interrelated and go hand in hand$ 6ur Indian "inema
portrays the essen"e of our so"iety ie our "ulture. The ethnic and
traditional *alues of the Indian society" its cultural di*ersity and abo*e
all" its unity among the *aried cultural and religious sects" is highlighted
by the Indian cinema. It not only pro<ects but also promotes Indian
cinema both in India and abroad. 5ilms li"e 4ather 4an!hali Kalyug
6ater $ho"her Bali Devdas and many more are some o+ the .nest
movies #hi!h have de*i!ted the ri!h !ulture o+ (ndia not only to its o#n
!ountry men but has also made a mar" over seas.
!isadvantages:
The originality and "reativity that e4isted in earlier "inemas is
missing in todays movies$ ost of the movies are either a "opy of a
movie made in Hollywood or a "opy from the south "inema$ 5or
instan!e- the movie Kaante starring &mitabh Ba!h!han Sunil Shetty and
Sanjay Dutt released in De! 2772 #as an absolute !o*y o+ 2 holly#ood
.lms.2he .rst hal+ o+ the *lot is !o*ied +rom Brian Singer1s 2he 8sual
Sus*e!ts and the se!ond hal+ is !o*ied +rom 9uentin 2arantino:s Reservoir
Dogs.
The Hindi flm Industry does not only take its 7inspiration8 from
Hollywood but also from our "inema down #outh. Li"e the movie
Bhool Bhulaiya starring &"shay Kumar and 3idya Balan #as a !o*y o+ the
Malyalam movie M&'( $%(2R& 2%&;%8 <=>>?@ +or #hi!h 4riyadarshan #as
the assistant dire!tor. Its very rare to see a movie that is not a "opy
or a so-"alled-inspiration$ Its sad be"ause most of these movies
whi"h do e4"eptionally well and are dire"ted by well known
dire"tors are not someone8s original idea$
1s an audience sometimes we witness that for some mo*ies a lot of hype
is "reated whi"h has no drama& no a"tion& absolutely nothing in it
but still "ompels us to go and wat"h it and it doesnPt really li*e up to
our e-pectations. The hype is primarily because of the caste or the director
or simply because of the songs and the production house. ,o for us as an
audience itPs a complete waste of time and money. /gC The recently
released Billu Barber Ahoom Baraber Ahoom Saa#ariya etc.
The newest addition into the art of flmmaking in India is- "tem
Songs. If itPs a 0ollywood mo*ie" then there has to be songs. Jow there is a
new trend. The trend of hot item songs. /*ery 0ollywood mo*ie has an item
song. They are basically songs which ha*e nothing to do with the story of
the #lm but are a ma<or crowd puller. Their lyrics donPt ma7e much sense
either" unli7e the old times where the lyrics of the song played a *ital role in
7eeping and enhancing the mood of the story. The music was pure" creati*e
and de*oid of any sign of technology. 0ut the songs now days ha*e brought
in the trend of remi-es which 7ills the *ery essence of the #lm. The
costumes shown are loud and garish. Its all about showing s7in and dancing
to some sleaEy song which doesnPt ma7e much sense or rather no sense at
allF $ost of these item songs are used as #llers basically done to 7eep the
audience glued to their seats for = hours.
The youth of today are the main "inema goers and they get 9uite
in5uen"ed with the things that are showed on the big s"reen$ 4or
egC #ght se6uences" the gangsters" the rape scenes" abduction" smo7ing
and drin7ing on screen etc. are some of the wrong mo*es. 1nd not to
mention these are #lmed in such a way that it adds a lot of style and
glamour to these unsocial acts. 4or instance the mo*ie ,hootout at
Lo7hanwala had nothing but *iolence in it. 1greed it was a #lm based on
goons" but so much brutality is a big turn o>F $o*ies not only in8uence
people in terms of things that are shown on screen its also the characters
that are played that ha*e a huge impact on the audience particularly the
youngsters. 0ig stars li7e ,haru7h Ihan" 1mitabh 0acchan" 17shay Iumar"
'ohn 1braham etc doing things li7e getting drun7" smo7ing etc does not
lea*e a *ery healthy impact on the minds of Noung boys.
Indian Cinema now days is not *ust an art but has emerged as a
business hub where money simply 5ows. &owe*er loo7ing at it from
the producerPs point of *iew" a lot of money goes into ma7ing mo*ies"
considering the s7y.roc7eting rates of our actors and the huge budget set
aside for costumes and *arious technologies used in the #lms. Jot all of
these big budget mo*ies ma7e an impact at the bo- oDce. ,ome of them
fail miserably and hence this is a huge loss for a producer or the production
house. They in*est in a pro<ect thin7ing it would do well with the audience
due to its di>erent approach" but it does not. 4or e-ample #lms li7e BLove
story 27C71 as #e "no# had a lot o+ visual eDe!ts unusual !ostumes huge
sets made to give us the +eel li"e #e1re gone into the +uture. (t didn1t really
live u* to its e)*e!tation. Other movies #hi!h have made disaster are-
&so"a "aal Drona Ba!hna &e haseeno et!!
C#$C%&S"#$:
The Indian 4ilm Industry thus has come a long way since its inception" from
silent mo*ies to tal7ing mo*ies" from blac7 and white low resolution to
coloured and ad*anced graphics. The Indian 4ilm Industry o*er the years has
grown both in siEe and 6uality. This has facilitated the coming of many new
technologies. /-ample. the 2igi 4Q surround until ;++1 used to happen
o*erseas but then in ;++= N94 studios came up with its in.built and much
elaborate sound set.up and following which numerous other studios now ha*e
it ma7ing India self suDcient of producing #lms with same 6uality than any
other international #lm.
In today s time the Indian Cinema is ruling the media industry. It has made
deep impact on the *arious other sectors of the industry. 4or e-ample.
numerous tal7 shows are being broadcasted in the Television where #lm
directors" actors" producers are in*ited. 2edicated channels are being aired
which broadcast the #lmy songs day and night. On the other hand 'adio
channels continuously play the #lmy songs and inter*iews of the 4ilm stars are
aired regularly where they spea7 about their upcoming mo*ie etc. This is not
the end e*en the $ews(a(ers are 8ooded with articles related to the #lms
and its stars. There are dedicated pages and sections designed primarily for
the #lm and the entertainment industry. /*en on the "nternet e*ery second
website will either ha*e an ad*ertisement of an upcoming mo*ie or a re*iew
or some e-clusi*e photos. &ence we see that in our society. Cinemas ha*e
gained the most widespread popularity. Its actually fueling the other streams
of the media and helping them run the business.
$o*ies in India are basically made with a lot of spices. In India a mo*ie has to
ha*e song" dance" romance" thrill" suspense" comedy" action" family drama
etc. People in India wor7 for ten hours a day and that too during the main part
of the day and so many of them return to a home with no entertainment. The
only a*ailable entertainment is mo*ies. %hether a business tycoon or a cycle
ric7shaw dri*er all want to watch mo*ies.
Indian cinema has impro*ed drastically and now the audience is *ery mature
too. They still want song and dance but not the running around tree
se6uences. ,o now there is a new mar7et for item songs. This is where a nice
fast trac7 is made only for a great dancer to dance and increase the sales.
,ome of the top songs ha*e been 0abu<i Eara dhere chalo" 7hallas etc.
$o*ies were made particularly for the masses and the multiple- crowd. 0ut
now the *iewers want to see good mo*ies with great stories. /arlier the hero
carried the entire mo*ie on his shoulders but now the load is e*enly spread. 1
mo*ie will do well e*en if you donPt ha*e a great star cast but ha*e a great
story and your actors do a <ob. 1 good e-ample for this would be Ihosla Ia
5hosla. There is nobody you can call the hero of the #lm but itPs realistic and
humorous.