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Day 2 – Q 5.Examine the trends and status of Indian art cinema.

5. Examine the trends and status of Indian art cinema. 

भारतीय कला सिनेमा के रुझानों और स्थिति की जांच करें।


India has one of the largest cinema industries in Asia. Thousands are employed not only as actors, directors but also as spot boys, extras etc., Movies are produced in multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bhojpuri and so on. In a survey conducted in 2014, India produces nearly 3000 celluloid films,

which were further classified into around 1000 short films and around 2000 feature films.



Originally, Lumiere Brothers brought the concept of motion pictures to India in 1896. The first film was titled ‘Coconut Fair and Our Indian Empire’ and it was shot by an unknown photographer in 1897. The first motion venture by an Indian was by Harishchandra Bhatvadekar. He made two short films in 1899 and exhibited them to the audience by using the Edison Projecting Kinetoscope.

Trends and status over the time:

  • 1900s: 
    • Earliest efforts were all foreign ventures, which were focusing on the British or their empire in India. 

e.g. short films like The Death of Nelson, call on the London Fire Brigade and Noah’s Arkwas exhibited in Bombay in 1898.

  • There were very few Indian filmmakers in this era. Notable amongst them were F.B Thanawalla who made ‘Taboot Procession’, ‘Splendid New Views of Bombay’ and Hiralal Sen made ‘Indian Life and Scenes’ in 1903.
  • Major Warwick established first cinema house in Madras and Jamshedjee Madan established the Elphinstone Picture House which produced major movies of the time.
  • 1910-1930(The Era of Silent Films):  
    • There was little music and dance. Yet, they were not totally mute. Often in theaters, they were accompanied with live musical instruments like sarangi, tabla, harmonium and violin. 
    • NG Chitre, R. G Torney, Dadasaheb Phalke are some of the famous film makers of the time. 
    • In 1920s two film companies, i.e. Kohinoor Film Company and Dadasaheb Phalke’s Hindustan Cinema Films Company produced most of the movies of the time. 
    • Fatima Begum became the first Indian woman who produced and directed her own film in 1926, titled ‘Bulbul-e- Parastan’.
    • The most popular subjects were mythology and history as the stories from history and folklore had a great appeal to the audience’s sense of a shared past.
  • 1930s (Era of Talkies): 
    • ‘Alam Ara’ was the first talking film directed by Ardeshir Irani. In 1933, the first color film ‘Sairandhri’ was produced. 
    • The major themes included daily life, mythologic stories as well as some of the Indian national movement stories.
  • 1940s:
    •  The turmoil in the Indian politics was also reflected in the cinemas. The fervor for independence was displayed in the films like Dharti ke Lal, Do Aankhen Baarah Haath, etc. 
    • Several films were made on tragic love stories and fictional historical tales like Chandralekha, Laila Majnu, Sikander, Chitralekha, etc. 
    • There were several films about social issues like ‘Neecha Nagar’ of Chetan Anand and Aurat made by Mehboob.
  • 1950s: 
    • Central Board of Film Certification was established to regulate the movies. 
    • This was also the time when international film festivals turned towards India as a destination. It helped Indian movies getting recognition abroad.
    • Movies like ‘Pather Panchali’, ‘Mother India’ etc., were nominated for International film awards.
  • 1960s (The Golden era): 
    • music became the integral part of the film fraternity and it became a unique selling proposition. 
    • Several nationalist movies were produced like Rajesh Khanna Starring ‘Aradhana’ and Raj Kapoor starring ‘Sangam’.
    • Film and Television Institute of India was established in Pune in 1960 which trained writers, directors and actors in their craft.
  • 1970-80 (The Angry Young man phase):
    • This age was themed around young man struggling in life with heroic stories. Amitabh Bachchan became the poster boy for most of these movies and this can be considered the ‘era of Amitabh Bachchan.
    • Another major theme was of horror. Ramsay Brothers pioneered this through movies like Do Gaz Zameen ke Neeche.
    • Religious films were also made majorly centered around deities of Shiva, Vishnu, Durga etc.,
  • 1980-2000(Era of Romantic cinemas):
    • Romantic and family dramas were getting huge audience. Movies like Tezaab, Ram Lakhan were hugely popular.
    • The late 80s saw the emergence of ‘anti-hero’ through films like Baazigar and Darr.
    • With economic Liberalization in 1990s, more money came in through foreign companies and involved more advanced technology use.
  • Contemporary: 
    • the themes are not limited and are continuously changing and influenced by movies being produced all over the world.
    • The emergence of short films is providing young talent to showcase their creativity with limited investment. 
    • A provision was passed recently to allow full Foreign Direct Investment in the film sector which led major international media houses like the 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., etc to invest in Indian films. This has also led major foreign directors to pick up socio-cultural issues relevant to India.
  • Parallel Cinema: they are produced with sole purpose of creating good cinemas, experiment with crafts even though the movie is not commercially viable. They exist since 1940s and still are produced in limited scale.
  • South Indian Film Industry: this includes majorly Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam movies. They had limited audience till 2000s. Lately, movie release in multiple languages has been a trend which has also increased the budget of the movies.

Further, there has been controversies regarding the cinema content and the censoring by the CBFC board. Also, the political influences in the movies cannot be sidelined.

E.g. Controversy around movie like ‘Padmavat’, ‘Bandit queen’, ‘Water’ etc., 


Indian art cinema has played a major role in spreading social messages. Movies like ‘Article 15’, ‘Pink’ and so on highlight the problems faced by many sections of the society. The latest technologies including the VFX art and animations are being used in Indian movies making it rich in artistic features. Indian art cinema has evolved enormously over the time and at present has audience all over the world.

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