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Ranji Panicker

Cinema of India

The Indian film industry is the largest in the world in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced annually (877 feature films and 1177 short films were released in the year 2003 alone). India accounts for 73% of movie admissions in the Asia-Pacific region, and earnings are currently estimated at US$8.9 billion. The industry is mainly supported by the vast cinema-going Indian public. The Central Board of Film Certification of India cites on its website that every three months an audience as large as India's billion-strong population visits cinema halls. Indian films are popular in various parts of the world, especially in countries with significant Indian communities.

The introduction of cinema in India

1896 - 1910

Cinema was introduced to India on July 7, 1896. It began with the Lumiere Brothers' Cinematography, unveiling six silent short films at the Watson's Hotel in Bombay, namely Entry of Cinematographe, The Sea Bath, Arrival of a Train, A Demolition, Ladies & Soldiers on Wheels and Leaving the Factory The Times of India carried details of the "Living Photographic Pictures in Life-Size Reproductions by Lumiere Brothers". In the same year, the Madras Photographic Store advertised "animated photographs". Daily screenings of films commenced in Bombay in 1897 by Clifton and Co.'s Meadows Street Photography Studio.

In 1898, Hiralal Sen started to film scenes of theatrical productions at the Classic Theatre in Calcutta, inspired by Professor Stevenson (who had brought to India the first bioscope to India'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 attractions during intermission, in private screenings for high society households or taken to distant venues where the stage performers could not reach.

Harischandra Sakharam Bhatavdekar alias Save Dada, who had attended the show, imported a cine-camera from London at a price of 21 guineas and filmed the first Indian documentary, a wrestling match at Hanging Gardens, Bombay in 1897. In 1901, he recorded the return from Cambridge of "Wrangler" Ragunath P. Paranjpe, who had secured a distinction in mathematics from Cambridge University, and M.M. Bhownuggree, considered the first Indian news film. He also filmed Lord Curzon (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 was another highly successful film producer, who released hit films like Bilwamangal; also, he launched Madan Theatres Ltd., India's largest film production-distribution-exhibition company and the biggest importer of American films after World War I. His films were marked by a high degree of technical sophistication, facilitated by his employment of experienced foreign directors like Eugenio De Liguoro and Camille Legrand. This expertise was complemented by grand sets and popular mythological storylines which ensured good returns.

Cinema houses were set up in major Indian cities in this period, like one in Madras (in 1900 by Major Warrick), the Novelty Cinema in Bombay (where newsreels from the Boer War were shown) and the Elphinstone Picture Palace in Calcutta (set up by J.F. Madan in 1907). Apart from these, a number of film shows were arranged in tents; examples are: shows arranged by two Italians, Colorello and Cornaglia, in tents at the Azad Maidan in Bombay, J.F. Madan's tent cinema at the Calcutta Maidan. Another popular mode of broadcasting films was the touring cinema. In 1904, Manek Sethna started the Touring Cinema Co. in Bombay and a year later, Swamikannu Vincent, a railway draughtsman, set up a touring cinema in South India. Pathe, the famous film production company set up an Indian office in 1907.


The first feature film made in India was a narrative named Pundalik, by N.G. Chitre and R.G. Torney. The first full-length Indian feature film was Raja Harishchandra (3700 feet as compared to 1500 for Pundalik), made in 1913 and released commercially in May that year, by Dadasaheb Phalke. Phalke had attended a screening of The Life of Christ at P.B. Mehta's American-Indian Cinema and was inspired to make films himself. He was convinced of the possibility of establishing an indigenous film industry by focusing on Indian themes. In this regard, he said Like the life of Christ, we shall make pictures on Rama and Krishna. The film was about an honest king who for the sake of his principles sacrifices his kingdom and family before the gods, who are impressed with his honesty and restore him to his former glory. The film was a success, and Phalke went on to make more mythological films till the advent of talkies, and commercialization of Indian films lessened his popularity.

In 1916, Universal Pictures set up Hollywood's first Indian agency (see Hollywood meets India, below). The first South Indian feature was Rangaswamy Nataraja Mudaliar's Keechaka Vadham, released in 1918. The following year, he made the film Draupadi Vastrapaharanam, featuring Anglo-Indian actress Marian Hill who played the role of Draupadi.

1930s & 40s

Regional film industries

India is a large country where many languages are spoken. According to the 1991 Census of India there are about 10,400 'raw mother tongues' in India. 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. Indian film producers have made films in thirty of the largest languages. However, only the very largest language groups support major regional industries. These are: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, Odiya, Malayalam. Official statistics categorise Indian films according to the languages in which they are distributed.

There is a great deal of mobility between the regional industries. Many workers in other 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 Tamil cinema 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 Bengali and Tamil versions respectively, into Hindi.

The Bhojpuri (Purvanchal) film industry

Bhojpuri, often considered a dialect of Hindi, originates in western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh in northern India. Speakers of it and its creoles are found in many parts of the world, including Brazil, Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, South Africa, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many colonizers faced labor shortages due to the abolition of slavery; thus, they imported many Indians, many from Bhojpuri-speaking regions, as indentured servants to labor on plantations. Today, some 200 million people in the West Indies, Oceania, and South America speak Bhojpuri as a native or second language.

Bhojpuri's history begins in 1962 with the well-received film Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo ("Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari"), which was directed by Kundan Kumar. Throughout the following decades, films were produced only in fits and starts. Films such as Bidesiya ("Foreigner," 1963, directed by S. N. Tripathi) and Ganga ("Ganges," 1965, directed by Kundan Kumar) were profitable and popular, but in general Bhojpuri films were not commonly produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1980s, enough Bhojpuri films were produced to tentatively make up an industry. Films such as Mai ("Mom," 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji ("My Brother's Wife," 1983, directed by Kalpataru) continued to have at least sporadic success at the box office. However, this trend faded out by the end of the decade, and by 1990, the nascent industry seemed to be completely finished.

The Bengali (Bangla) film industry

The history of cinema in Bengal dates back to the 1890s, when the first "bioscopes" were shown in theatres in Calcutta. Within a decade, the first seeds of the industry was sown by Hiralal Sen, considered a stalwart of Victorian era cinema when he set up the Royal Bioscope Company, producing scenes from the stage productions of a number of popular shows at the Start Theatre, Minerva Theatre, Classic Theatre. Following a long gap after Sen's works, Dhirendra Nath Ganguly (Known as D.G) established Indo British Film Co, the first Bengali owned production company, in 1918. However, the first Bengali Feature film, Billwamangal, was produced in 1919, under the banner of Madan Theatre. Bilat Ferat was the IBFC's first production in 1921. The Madan Theatres production of Jamai Shashthi was the first Bengali talkie. A long history has been traversed since then, with stalwarts such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak and others having earned international acclaim and securing their place in the movie history. Today, there are two Bengali film industries, one in Tollygunge area of Kolkata (Calcutta), India and another one in Dhaka, Bangladesh (called Dollywood, which has been a major commercially successful industry of Bengali cinema).

The most famous film director of Bengali film industry is Satyajit Ray, who won an Oscar for lifetime achievement in cinema. This industry has always remained the hot favourites among the National Film Awards jury almost every year since its inception. Some of the better known personalities from this industry include Uttam Kumar, Soumitra Chatterjee, Proshenjit among actors, Suchitra Sen, Supriya Devi, Madhabi Mukherjee among actresses, Bimal Roy, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Goutam Ghose, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh among directors, and Hemanta Mukherjee, Manna Dey and Sandhya Mukhopadhyay among playback singers.

List of Bengali films

The Hindi film industry (Bollywood)

The Hindi film industry, based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), is the largest branch of Indian cinema. Hindi film Industry is often called 'Bollywood' (a blending of Hollywood and Bombay). 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 violation of Indian cultural values and its discussion of controversial topics. It is considered the most liberal out of the Indian language film industries.

Regional movies are distinctively different from Bollywood (Hindi) movies, as the stories and themes of these movies portray the culture of the region from which they originate, while most Bollywood movies nowadays are greatly influenced by Western culture.

Although Bollywood may not distribute as many films, it can be considered to be the largest in terms of viewers. Bollywood movies are watched by a majority of Indian movie goers. It also has international recognition, especially in Western countries such as the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, where there are large South Asian communities.

The Kannada film industry (Sandalwood)

The Kannada film industry, based in Karnataka, is sometimes called 'Sandalwood', as Karnataka is known for its abundant sandalwood forests; however, this term does not seem to be in widespread use. The Gubbi Veeranna Company, or Veeranna's Sri Chennabasaveshwara Krupa Poshita Nataka Sangha and other groups established themselves first as theatre troupes, and later went on to dominate kannada cinema into the 1960s. "They provided all its key directors like H.L.N . Simha, B. R. Panthulu and G. V. Iyer, its stars led by Rajkumar and Leelavathi and most of its early commercial hits: Bedara Kannappa (1953), for instance. The first big success in Kannada cinema adapted a Gubbi Company stage play written by G. V. Iyer to introduce the mythological adventure movie into that language.". Kannada films has become very popular after the recent hits like Jogi (2005) & Mungaru Male (2007).

The Kashmiri film industry

The Kashmiri film industry, which had been lying dormant since the release of Habba Khatoon in 1967, was revived after a 39-year hiatus with the release of Akh Daleel Loolech in 2006. However critics dispute this claim because this film was a small budget digital film which did not play in any film theatres except in a few private and film festival screening. Besides Akh Daleel Lolach uses a film style which is common on Kashmiri television and by those standards Kashmiri video makers were making films since early 1980s. Cinema halls had been shut down for a long time in Kashmir, by militants protesting against the Government. There are few cinema halls and a handful of directors have been returning to shoot in the region. Though the region was favoured by many producers as a scenic locale in pre-militancy era Bollywood movies as a romantic backdrop , the regional industry was not very strong, due to lack of finances and infrastructure.

The Malayalam film industry

The Malayalam film industry is based in Kerala. Malayalam movies are known for their artistic nature and they frequently figure in the national film awards. It is also currently known for being the most conservative out of the different film industries in India, despite the fact that it went through a liberal phase in the 80's. Notable personalities include the filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Bharathan, K. G. George, G. Aravindan, Padmarajan, Shaji N.Karun and John Abraham, the scriptwriters M. T. Vasudevan Nair, Ranji Panicker and Sreenivasan, the cinematographers Mankada Ravi Varma, Venu, Azhagappan, Santhosh Sivan and Shaji N.Karun,; the actors Prem Nazeer, Sathyan, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Jayaram, Dileep, Prithviraj, Jagathi Sreekumar, Mukesh, Sai Kumar, Siddique, Bharath Gopi, Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu, Balachandra Menon, Sukumari, Sheela, Urvasi; the playback singers, K. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chitra, P. Jayachandran, M.G. Sreekumar and Sujatha. Notable Music Directors are M.S.Baburaj, Devarajan, M.B.Sreenivasan, Dakshinamoorthy, Raveendran, K.Raghavan, Johnson, Shyam and M.K.Arjunan

Mega stars Mammootty, Mohanlal, and Suresh Gopi rules the malayalam film industry for a long period.Their films are being the top of the year. Mammootty holds the record of bagging the most number of national awards by any actor in India. He shares the record with Dr.Kamalhasan.

Some of the oldest studios Merryland Studio at Thiruvananthapuram and Udaya Studio at Allepey were the major film making centres. The Kerala State Film Development Corporation has its own Chitranjali Studios which have all facilities including color film processing laboratories. Recently KINFRA Film and Video Park had started functioning near Thiruvananthapuram having a number of facilities like DTS Sound recording theatres,Editing suites, color film processing laboratory, Preview theatre, Guest houses, outdoor shooting locations etc.

The first 3D film produced in India was in Malayalam, called My Dear Kuttichathan. It was produced by Navodaya Productions and later dubbed into Tamil, Telugu and Hindi versions. Padayottam, the first fully indigenous 70 mm film with all its work done in India was also produced by Navodaya. The first Cinemascope film produced in Malayalam was Thacholi Ambu from Navodaya. Chemmeen was the first film which earned a gold medal from the President of India. Mohanlal's "Guru", directed by Rajiv Anchal, is the only Malayalam film proposed as the Indian entry by the Indian Film Industry council for Oscar Award so far. Shaji N Karun's Swaham is the first malayalam film competed in Cannes International Film festival in 1994. For an Indian Film, Shaji's earlier film Piravi won maximum number of awards (24 Awards) from various International film festivals including Cannes.

Kerala Chalachitra Academy conducts the International Film Festival of Kerala every year during the month of December at Thiruvananthapuram which attracts film makers from all over the world.

The Marathi film industry

Marathi Film Industry, one of the oldest film industries in India, originated in Nasik, and developed in Kolhapur and Pune. In recent years, it has moved mostly to Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra.

Dadasaheb Phalke, recognized as the father of Indian cinema, was a pioneer of movies in Marathi. He produced the first Indian silent movie, and later some Marathi talkies. In his honor, a much coveted "Dadasaheb Phalke Award" is given annually for exceptional contribution to Indian cinema.

1940s and '50s formed the classical era of Marathi cinema, mainly because of some hallmark productions by the now extinct "Prabhat Film Company" in Kolhapur. As an offshoot of Prabhat, V. Shantaram founded "Rajkamal Studios" in Pune, and produced some excellent Marathi movies in the late 1950s and early '60s.

Because of the rise of Hindi movies in Bollywood, Marathi film industry underwent a decline in the 1980s and '90s. But recently it has been reviving with some quality movies like "Shwaas" (which earned an official Indian entry for an Oscar award in 2004), "Pak Pak Pakaak" (which won Swarovski Trophy in AFFF, Singapore, in 2005),"Sane Guruji", "Uttarayan", "Aga Bai, Arecchaa", "Shubhamangal Saavdhaan", "Dombivali Fast", "Devrai", "Anaahat", "Kadachit", "Valu", "Tingya" and "Saatchya Aaat Gharaat".

Bhalji Pendharkar, Baburao Painter, V.Shantaram, Dada Kondke, Raja Paranjpe, Raja Thakur, Sachin Pingalgavkar, Mahesh Kothare, Smita Talwalkar, Sumitra Bhave, Sunil Sukthankar, Sandeep Kashyap, Gajendra Ahire, Jabbar Patel, Amol Palekar, Chandrakant Kulkarni, Bipin Nadkarni, Sandeep Swant, Mangesh Hadawale and Kedar Shinde are some of the notable directors and producers in Marathi cinema in the past few decades.

Modern Marathi actors include Dilip Prabhavalkar, Bharat Jadhav, Sonali Kulkarni, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Ashwini Bhave, Amruta Subhash, Atul Kulkarni and Sanjay Narvekar.

While some old Marathi movie songs remain popular, new composers like Ajay-Atul, Ram-Laxman have been producing some very popular songs. Some of the old songs have also been remixed.

The Tamil film industry (Kollywood)

The Tamil film industry (Kollywood) is based in the Kodambakkam area of Chennai. Tamil films have enjoyed consistent popularity among Tamil speakers in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius. Tamil films also receive fame in countries which contain Tamil immigrant communities such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other European countries.

Several technicians have crossed industries to encapture National fame such as Bharathiraja, Selvaraghavan, Maniratnam, A. R. Rahman, Shankar, Ravi K. Chandran and Jeeva. However unlike the technical counterparts, artistes from South India tend to fail to break into Bollywood, with only a handful breaking through, them being: Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth, Sridevi, Madhavan and Asin Thottumkal. Ironically, several Bollywood actresses made their débuts in Kollywood, with Aishwarya Rai appearing in Iruvar, Priyanka Chopra in Thamizhan, Lara Dutta in Arasatchi and Sushmita Sen in Ratchagan. Furthermore, several actresses have done Tamil films while struggling to breakthrough in Bollywood, such as Kajol and her sister, Tanisha as well as Amisha Patel, Manisha Koirala and Tabu.

In the Tamil film industry, directors such as Mahendran, Shankar, Bala, Bharathiraja, Balu Mahendra, and Mani Ratnam have achieved box-office success whilst producing films that have balanced art and popular elements. The Tamil film industry accounts for approximately 1% of the gross domestic product of the state of Tamil Nadu. Costs of production have grown exponentially from just under Rs.4 million in 1980 to over Rs.110 million by 2005 for a typical star-studded big-budget film. Similarly, costs of processing per print have risen from just under Rs.2,500 in 1980 to nearly Rs.70,000 by 2005. There has been a growing presence of English in dialogue and songs as well. It is not uncommon to see movies that feature dialogue studded with English words and phrases, or even whole sentences. Some movies are also simultaneously released in two or three regional languages (either using subtitles or several soundtracks). Contemporary Tamil movies often feature Madras Bashai, a colloquial version of Tamil spoken in Madras. A select few, Iruvar and older films based on epics, for instance, employ literary Tamil extensively in dialogues when the situation calls for it. Many Tamil films are also dubbed into Telugu and Hindi and released in their respective states.

The Telugu film industry (Tollywood)

The Telugu film industry is based in Andhra Pradesh's capital city, Hyderabad.Telugu films have great overseas potential in countries which contain Telugu immigrant communities such as the United States, United Kingdom,Australia, Canada, and other European countries.

In 1931, the first Telugu film with audible dialogue, Bhakta Prahlad, was produced by H.M. Reddy[9]. Popularly known as 'talkies', films with sound quickly grew in number and fanbase. In 1934, the industry saw its first major commercial success with Lavakusa. Directed by C. Pullaiah and starring Parupalli Subbarao and Sriranjani in lead roles, the film attracted unprecedented numbers of viewers to theaters and thrust the young film industry into mainstream culture[10].Father of Telugu cinema

Though it is celebration time for talkies, can we forget the efforts of pioneers like Dhundiraj Govind Phalke better known as Dadasaheb Phalke who made India's first silent film Raja Harischandra (1913) and R. G. Torney or our own Raghupathi Venkaiah, his son R.S. Prakash and C. Pulliah who made cinema popular during the silent era taking film rolls and projectors exhibiting films in nook and corner of the South? Raghupathi Venkaiah hailed as father of Telugu cinema is the first exhibitor in the South. He bought crono-megaphone, the first projector equipped to reproduce `sound' by disk system and exhibited short reels way back in 1910. He travelled all over the South and in Burma and Ceylon. Venkaiah established Star of East studios known as glass studio to produce silent films.

The success of Alam Ara made Irani to diversify into regional language productions in Telugu and Tamil the same year. It was Ardeshir Irani's associate Hanumantha Muniappa Reddy who directed Bhakta Prahalada and was released six weeks ahead of the first Tamil Talkie, Kalidas that Reddy himself directed with a mixed cast of Telugu, Tamil and Hindi actors. Bhakta Prahlada had an all-Telugu starcast featuring Munipalle Subbiah as Hiranyakasipa and Surabhi Kamalabai as Leelavathy. Both the films were made in Bombay. By 1936, the mass appeal of film allowed directors to move away from religious and mythological themes[10]. That year, under the direction of Krithiventi Nageswara Rao, Prema Vijayam, a film focusing on social issues, was released. Its success prompted the production of dozens of other immensely successful 'social films', notably 1939's Vandemataram and Maala Pilla. Touching on societal problems like the status of Untouchables and the practice of giving dowry, Telugu films increasingly focused on contemporary living: twenty-nine of the ninety-six films released between 1937 and 1947 had social themes[11].

September 15, 1931 saw the release of the first Telugu talkie Bhakta Prahalada in Crown in Kakinada, Maruthi in Vijayawada, Gaiety in Madras and Minerva in Machlipatnam. Just a few months earlier, on March 14, 1931, the first Indian talkie film, Alam Ara was released at Majestic Cinema, Bombay and in other parts of the country including Maruthi Talkies, Vijayawada. People thronged the cinema halls where it was exhibited. With its box office success the country's first black marketeering in cinema tickets began with a four anna (a quarter of a rupee) ticket getting sold for Rs. 4 or 5!Son of soil

Another doyen, C. Pullaiah after gaining experience in the cinematic art, purchased a second hand movie camera in 1924 in Bombay returned to native Kakinada with an intention to make films in Andhra soil. He shot a thousand feet silent film, Markandeya, with himself cast as Yama and made the film with so many indigenous methods and projected the film on a white washed wall in his house to the amazement of his friends through the very same camera with which he shot the film. He used to call cinema as Goda Meedi Bomma. It was C. Pullaiah who gave Telugu cinema's first super duper hit, Lavakusa (1934) starring Parupalli Subbarao and Sriranjani (Sr.). It was his second feature film (Savithri his first talkie film was made a year before with Ramathilakam and Gaggaiah was a hit too. Interestingly there were two Savithris and two Ramadasus in 1933). People flocked to the theatres from near by villages in bullock carts to see Lavakusa. History repeated when C. Pullaiah and his son C. S. Rao remade the film in 1963 with N. T. Rama Rao and Anjali Devi. At a time when the market was flooded with mythological films, Indian Art Cine tone attempted a social, Prema Vijayam (1936) directed by Krithiventi Nageswara Rao. However, the success of reformist filmmaker Gudavalli Ramabrahmam's Malapilla (1938) starring Dr. Govindarajula Subbarao and Kanchanamala and Rythubidda (1939) with Ballari Raghava and Suryakumari gave an impetus to Y.V. Rao, B.N. Reddy and others to produce films on social themes.

The outbreak of World War II and the subsequent resource scarcity caused the British Raj to impose a limit on the use of filmstrip in 1943 to 11,000 feet[12], a sharp reduction from the 20,000 feet that was common till then[13]. As a result, the number of films produced during the War was substantially lower than in previous years. Nonetheless, prior to the ban, an important shift occurred in the industry: independent studios formed, actors and actresses were signed to contracts limiting who they could work for, and films moved from social themes to folklore legends[14]. 1942's Balanagamma typified these changes: the film featured fantasy elements of cultural lore, was produced by Gemini Studios, and its producers added a restricting clause to the lead actress' contract. By 1947, nearly all films were produced by studios with contracted actors.

The Telugu film industry produces the largest number of films every year in India, with about 245 films produced in 2006. Popular movies tend to open during the three festive/holiday seasons of the region: Sankranthi, Ugadi, and Dussera. In 2004, total revenue for the Sankranthi season was around Rs. 1.5 billion (US$37 million, as of July 17, 2007). There are number of TV channels (Teja TV etc.,) dedicated exclusively to feature programs related to Telugu movies.This is the industy having a maximum comediens in the world.

The state also has what is claimed to be the largest film studio in the world, Ramoji Film City. The first studio for Telugu talkies was Vel Pictures, constructed in 1934 by P.V. Das, located at Madras. The first film made here was Sita Kalyanam. The first film made by a Telugu person, R.S. Prakash, was Bhishma Pratigna (The Pledge of Bhishma, 1922). Another important Telugu personality of this era was Y.V. Rao (1903-1973), an actor and director, whose silent film (directing) credits include Pandava Nirvana (1930), Pandava Agnathavaas (1930) and Hari Maya (1932). The first big movies in Telugu were made by the Surabhi Theatres troupes.. They produced the first Telugu talkie, Bhakta Prahlada, directed by Hanumappa Munioappa Reddy in 1931. In the first few years of Telugu talkies, films were all mythological stories, taken from the stage. In 1936, Krittiventi Nageswara Rao made the first Telugu film not based on mythology, Premavijayam. The film influenced other Telugu film-makers into making such films. Some popular themes of these films (often called 'social' films) were the feudal zamindari system (Raitu Bidda, 1939), untouchability (Maala pilla, 1938), and widow remarriage Since then, there have been both social (contemporary) and mythological or folk stories in Telugu cinema.

Successful Telugu films are also remade and dubbed in other languages like Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada and are released in respective states.

Art cinema in India

In addition to commercial cinema, there is also Indian cinema that aspires to seriousness or art. This is known to film critics as "New Indian Cinema" or sometimes "the Indian New Wave", but most people in India simply call such films "art films". These films deal with a wide range of subjects but many are in general explorations of complex human circumstances and relationships within an Indian setting.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, art films were subsidised by Indian governments: aspiring directors could get federal or state government grants to produce non-commercial films on Indian themes. Many of these directors were graduates of the government-supported Film and Television Institute of India. Their films were showcased at government film festivals and on the government-run TV station, Doordarshan. These films also had limited runs in art house theatres in India and overseas. Since the 1980s, Indian art cinema has to a great extent lost its government patronage. Today, it must be made as independent films on a shoestring budget by aspiring auteurs, much as in today's Western film industry.

The art directors of this period owed more to foreign influences, such as Italian neorealism or the French New Wave, than they did to the genre conventions of commercial Indian cinema. The best known New Cinema directors were Bengali: Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, and Bimal Roy. Some well-known films of this movement include the Apu Trilogy by Ray , the Calcutta Trilogy of Sen, Meghe Dhaka Tara by Ghatak (all in Bengali) and Do Bigha Zameen by Roy (Hindi). Of these film-makers, Satyajit Ray was arguably the most well-known: his films obtained considerable international recognition during the mid-twentieth century. He was awarded an Oscar for life time achievement in 1992. His prestige, however, did not translate into large-scale commercial success. His films played primarily to art-house audiences (students and intelligentsia) in the larger Indian cities, or to film buffs on the international art-house circuit in India and abroad. Like him, Mrinal Sen who has primarily been a political film director and has received international acclaim, is not well known for commercial success, with the lone exception being Bhuvan Shome, which ushered the New Indian Cinema.

Noteworthy Indian Art Cinema women filmmakers from the diaspora include Shashwati Talukdar, Nandini Sikand, Sonali Gulati, Prema Karanth, Nisha Ganatra, Eisha Marjara, Pratibha Parmar, Liggy Pullappally, and Shanti Thakur.

Art cinema was also well-supported in the South Indian state of Kerala. Some outstanding Malayalam movie makers are Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G. Aravindan, T. V. Chandran, Shaji N. Karun, and M. T. Vasudevan Nair. Some of their films include National Film Award-winning [vidheyan] Mammootty bagged the national award for that film,Elippathayam, Piravi (which won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival), Vaanaprastham and Nizhalkkuthu (a FIPRESCI-Prize winner).

Starting in the 1970s, Kannada film makers from Karnataka state produced a string of serious, low-budget films. Girish Kasaravalli is one of the few directors from that period who continues to make non-commercial films. He is the only Indian director other than Satyajit Ray and Buddhadev Dasgupta to win the Golden Lotus Awards four times.

From the 1970s onwards Hindi cinema produced a wave of art films. The foremost among the directors who produced such films is Shyam Benegal. Others in this genre include Govind Nihalani (Ardh Satya), Mani Kaul (Uski Roti), Kumar Shahani (Maya Darpan), H. K. Verma (Kadamabari),M.S. Sathyu (Garam Hava).

Many cinematographers, technicians and actors began in art cinema and moved to commercial cinema. The actor Naseeruddin Shah is one notable example; he has never achieved matinee idol status, but has turned out a solid body of work as a supporting actor and a star in independent films such as Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding. H.K.Verma, a cinematographer turned to direction with his maiden venture Kadambari starring Shabana Azmi.

Marathi art cinema has been continuously churning out gems even when Marathi mainstream cinema had no suffered a setback. Dr.Jabbar Patel, Bhave-Sukthankar, Amol Palekar are some of the notable names while acclaimed movie titles are Umbartha, Dhyaasparva, Uttarayan, Vaastupurush etc.

Globalization of Indian cinema

Contact between Indian and Western cinemas was established in the early days of film in India. Dadasaheb Phalke was moved to make Raja Harishchandra after watching the film Life of Christ at P.B. Mehta's American-Indian Cinema. Similarly, some other early film directors were inspired by Western movies.

In India at least 80 percent of films shown in the late 1920s were American, even though twenty-one studios manufactured local films, eight or nine of them in regular production. American serials such as Perils of Pauline and Exploits of Elaine, and the spectacular sets of films like Quo Vadis and Cabira were popular and inspiring during the World War I era. Universal Pictures set up an Indian agency in 1916, which went on to dominate the Indian distribution system. J. F. Madan's Elphinstone Bioscope Company at first focused on distribution of foreign films and organization of their regular screenings Additionally, J.P. Madan, the prolific producer, employed Western directors for many of his films.

A number of Indian films have been accused of plagiarising from Hollywood Movies. Due to the long time taken by courts to decide a case, few cases relating to copyright violations are brought up. One of the reasons Bollywood hesitates in purchasing rights is the assumption that these would run into millions of dollars, though according to some like screenwriter-director Anurag Kashyap, this is incorrect; He argues that while the films may cost millions of dollars in the west, the rights would be less expensive for Hindi remakes because the price would be based on the audience's buying power, the economy and the number of bidders. In 2003, best-selling fiction writer Barbara Taylor Bradford brought a copyright infringement suit against Sahara Television for allegedly making a television series (Karishma: A miracle of destiny) out of her book, A Woman of Substance, without acquiring the legal rights to do so.

Today, Indian cinema is becoming increasingly westernised. This trend is most strongly apparent in Bollywood. Newer Bollywood movies sometimes include Western actors (such as Rachel Shelley in Lagaan), try to meet Western production standards, conduct filming overseas, adopt some English in their scripts or incorporate some elements of Western-style plots. Bollywood also produces box-office hit like the films Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kal Ho Naa Ho, both of which deal with the overseas Indian's experience.

However, the meeting between west and India is a two-way process: Western audiences mostly of Indian origin are becoming more interested in India , as evidenced by the success of Lagaan, Bride and Prejudice and Sivaji: The Boss. As Western audiences for Indian cinema grow, Western producers are funding maverick Indian filmmakers like Gurinder Chadha (Bride and Prejudice) and Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding). Both Chadha and Nair are of Indian origin but do not live in India, and who made their names in Western independent films; they have now been funded to create films that "interpret" the Indian cinematic tradition for Westerners. A similar filmmaker is Deepa Mehta of Canada, whose films include the trilogy Fire, Earth and Water.

Indian cinema is also influencing the English and American musical; Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (2001) incorporates a Bollywood-style dance sequence; The Guru and The 40-Year-Old Virgin feature Indian-style song-and-dance sequences; A. R. Rahman, a film composer, was recruited for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams; and a musical version of Hum Aapke Hain Koun has played in London's West End.


Since 1973, the Indian government has sponsored the National Film Awards (which first began in 1954), awarded by the government run Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF). The DFF screens films from all the Indian movie industries and independent/art films. These awards are handed out at an annual ceremony presided over by the President of India.Dr.Kamalhasan and Mammooty from South India got three awards for best actors.

The Filmfare Awards ceremony is one of the oldest and most prominent film events given for Hindi films in India and is sometimes referred to as the "Bollywood Oscars." The Filmfare awards were first introduced in 1954, the same year as the National Film Awards and gave awards to the best films of 1953. The ceremony was referred to as the Clare Awards after the magazine's editor. A dual voting system was developed in 1956. Under this system, "in contrast to the National Film Awards, which are decided by a panel appointed by Indian Government, the Filmfare Awards are voted for by both the public and a committee of experts." Mammootty and Chiranjeevi were titled as the legendary actors fo India.

Additional ceremonies held within India are:

Ceremonies held overseas are:

Most of these award ceremonies are lavishly staged spectacles, featuring singing, dancing, and lots of stars and starlets.

Film Training In India


  • Shedde, M. (2003) "Plagiarism issue jolts Bollywood" The Times of India, May 18. Available from: Accessed 23 November 2006.
  • The World-wide Spread of Cinema. In The Oxford History of World Cinema (1996). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-811257-2. .
  • Thoraval, Y. (2000). The Cinemas of India. Macmillan India. ISBN 0-333-93410-5.

See also

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