It is interesting to note that one of the most flourishing industries in India was begun by foreigners – the Lumiere Brothers who in 1896 screened six films to an enthusiastic Mumbai (then Bombay) audience. However, the father of actual Indian Cinema was Dada Saheb Phalke who released first full-length silent film Raja Harishchandra on May 3rd, 1913. The silent era came to an end with the release of first talkie Alam Ara in 1931. With the start of talkies, the importance of actors also increased and it demanded that not only actors know how to speak in front of the camera but also how to sing as music became an integral part of Indian cinema.
Indian cinema does not only mean Hindi or Bollywood movies. While Hindi cinema was taking big strides, films and the South and in Bengal were gaining popularity in their respective languages. In the same year as the release of Alam Ara, Bhakta Prahlad in Telugu, Kalidass in Tamil and Jamai Shashthi in Bengali were released. Today, movies in Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Bbhojpuri Marathi, Telugu and Bengali are equally popular like Hindi movies.
Movies of the 40s and the Golden Era (1950s and 60s)
The decade of 40s was a tumultuous one with the entire world being ravaged by the World War and India by its own freedom struggle. Most of the Indian movies were made with this backdrop and film makers like V.Shantaram, Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy and Mehboob Khan made a unique combination of epic consciousness and artistic representation.
The Golden of Indian Cinema between the 1950s and 1960s saw the release of cult movies like Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen (1953), Pather Panchali (1955) by Satyajit Ray, Kagaz ke Phool (1959), Pyaasa (1957), Mother India (1957), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957), Madhumati (1958), Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and almost all of Raj Kapoor movies like Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955) are known to be the pioneer movies of Indian Cinema. At the same time, down south Sivaji Ganesan, M. G. Ramachandran, N.T. Rama Rao, Rajkumar, and Prem Nazir dominated the film industry.
The timeless beauty of actresses of those times like Madhu Bala, Nargis, Nutan, Meena Kumari and Vaijyanti Mala stole the millions of hearts forever.
The Era of 1970s
In 1970s, the commercial cinema took a new turn when the charming personality of Rajesh Khanna and his brilliant expression of emotions set the screens on fire with continuous blockbuster movies like Amar Prem (1971), Kati Patang (1972) and Anand (1971). He became the first superstar of Indian Cinema. Women and young girls of those times would itch for his single smile. His grooving style took on everyone and he became heartthrob of millions.
By mid-70s, a sudden transition in Indian commercial cinema happened with the entry of the rugged angry young look of Amitabh Bachchan. The action films like Zanzeer (1974), Sholay (1975), Deewar (1975), Don (1978) and Kaala Patthar (1979) of this ‘Angry-Young Man’ became the trend. Dialogues like -
“Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi na-mumkin hai”
“Tum sab mujhe dhoondh rahe ho aur main tumhara yahan intezaar kar raha hoon”
“Hum jahan se khade hote hain, line woheen se shuru hoti hai”
“Aaj mere paas bangla hai, gaadi hai, bank balance hai, kya hai tumhare paas?”
….…became catchphrases for one and all. The generations have been using these dialogues casually in their day-to-day lives, while mimicking Amitabh Bachchan’s revolutionary style.
At this time the Telugu cinema was into reviving Indian classical music through the movie Sankarabharam (1979), that won an award at the Besancon Film Festival of France. While commercial movies were gaining popularity, directors like Shyam Benegal, Ritwik Ghatak, Adoor Gopala Krishnan, Mrinal Sen, G. Aravindan and Bharathan continued to produce and direct realistic movies or Parallel Cinema as it was called.
Boom in Commercial Cinema in 80s and 90s
In 1980s, Kannada cinema got international recognition when the 1987 movie Tabarana Kathe was screened in many film festivals at Tokyo, Tashkent, and Russia. While the Malayalam cinema also stated living its golden age with the excellent wok of some genius filmmakers.
The Hindi commercial cinema also created history presenting an array of super-hit movies based on a rainbow of genres. Some of these films were - the romantic like Ek Duje ke Liye (1981), Bemisaal, Silsila (1980), Qayamat se Qayamat tak (1988), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Chandni (1989), Dilwale Duhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998); Action thrillers like Baazigar (1993), Darr (1993), and many more. These movies featured some of the finest of actors of Indian cinema like Amir Khan, Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla.
Indian Regional CinemaBengali cinema
has always rendered some great piece of work by geniuses like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and modern day directors Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen.
of Bihar and eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh have a pretty large audience. Among the popular movies are - Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo, Bidesiya, Saiyyan Humar, Panditji Batai Na Kab Hoi and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala. Gujarati cinema
has been very popular in Indian film industry. The movies have been based on mythology, history, society and politics. The industry has rendered the Bollywood with actors like Asha Parekh, Aruna Irani, Asrani, Sanjeev Kumar, Rajendra Kumar and Bindu. The most popular movies of Gujarati cinema are Chaturbhuj Doshi’s Kariyavar, Ramchandra Thakur’s Vadilona Vank, Ratibhai Punatar’s Gadano Bei and Vallabh Choksi’s Leeludi Dharti.
Kannada film industry
is based in Bengaluru. The industry has flourished with actors like Rajkumar, Ambarish, Girish Karnad, Shakar Nag, Prakash Raj and Ravichandran. Some of the popular Kannada movies are Samskara, Accident, Maanasa Sarovara, Tabarana Kathe, Bharath Stores, Thaayi Saheba, Vimukthi, and Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu.
The movies of Malayalam film industry have been low-budget and based on many social issues. With the acting excellence of Mammootty, Jayaram, Mohanlal, Murali and filmmakers like K G George, Priyadarshan and Nedumuni Venu, the Malayalam cinema or Mollywood has also marked its name in bright words in the history of Indian cinema. Marathi cinema
has contributed a lot to the Bollywood. Some of the popular Marathi actors like Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Reema Lagoo, Durga Khote, Tanuja, Nutan, Smita Patil, Madhuri Dixit, Urmila Matondkar, Sonali Bendre, Lalita Pawar, Padmini Kolhapure, and Sadashiv Amrapurkar are also recognized as popular faces in Bollywood as well. Tamil Movies
are also known as Kollywood movies mainly because most of the movies are centered around Chennai neighbourhood called Kodambakkam. Rajnikanth who is worshipped next to God in this part of India is one of the greatest actors that India has ever produced. Some other prolific Tamil actors are Kamal Haasan, R. Madahavan and Ra.Madahavan among others.
is known to be the largest producer of movies in India. The Ramoji Film City has already got its name registered in Guiness Book of World Records, for being the largest film production center in the world. The ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ –famed singer S. P. Balasubramanyam also holds the record of singing the maximum number of songs.
The Off-Beat Films
Based on a common man’s day to day issues, some serious social issues and everyday life, these movies give the audience a chance to relate themselves to the characters in the film. They do not present frills but are rather very realistic, logical and straightforward. In the end, they leave a social message. Some of the serious off-beat movies are Saleem Langde Pe Mat Ro, Ek Doctor ki Maut, Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai, Mammo, Mirch Masala, Wo Chhokri and Dharavi. While some presenting the lighter shades of life are Gharonda, Saade Saat Phere.
International Acclamation - On Popularity Charts
The excellence in movie making has led Indian cinema earn a status of being a global enterprise and accolades by massive international audience. As per several reports, in a year, whopping 1000 movies are produced all over India and that makes India top the total world film production. This has led to the continuous rise in revenue generation. The enormous talent, variety of genres, speedy advancement of technology and inclusion of fiction movies has widened the scope of viewership worldwide. In more than 90 countries, the Indian movies are screened. Some of the Indian directors namely, Meera Nair, Deepa Mehta and Shekhar Kapur have marked their names at international level.
The Indian movies Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay (1988) and Lagaan (2001) got nominated for the Academy Awards. The awards have already been won for costume designing, filmmaking, music composing, sound editing and lyrics. The
movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008) by Danny Boyle won Oscar award, the most prestigious award in international cinema.
The Present-Day Indian Cinema
Well, today the face of Indian cinema seems completely different from what it looked earlier. A lot has changed and has brought about a blended form of experiences - some bad and some good. Movies of various genres are made at the same time, no single theme is followed these days. Some are based on social issues, some are action-oriented, some are typical love-stories while some are fiction-based. A lot of stress is invested upon the make-up, costumes and appearance of the characters. Today there are a growing number of directors like Rajkumar Hirani, Dibakar Banerjee and Vishal Bhardwaj who try to portray a more real cinema. However, Indian cinema despite all its oddities has and will continue to entertain the audience.