Indian film industry
The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking, i. e. , film production companies, film studios, cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, distribution; and actors, film directors and other film crew personnel.
Though the expense involved in making movies almost immediately led film production to concentrate under the auspices of standing production companies, advances in affordable film making equipment, and expansion of opportunities to acquire investment capital from outside the film industry itself, have allowed independent film production to evolve. India is the largest producer of films in the world. In 2009 India produced a total of 2,961 films on celluloid, that includes a staggering figure of 1,288 feature films.
Indian film industry is multi-lingual and the largest in the world in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced and 2nd largest in terms of revenue. The industry is supported mainly by a vast film-going Indian public, and Indian films have been gaining increasing popularity in the rest of the world, notably in countries with large numbers of expatriate Indians. Largest film industry in India is the Hindi film industry mostly concentrated in Mumbai (Bombay), and is commonly referred to as “Bollywood”, an amalgamation of Bombay and Hollywood, which produces around 20% of films in India.
The other largest film industries are Telugu cinema, Tamil cinema, Bangla cinema, Kannada cinema, and Malayalam cinema which are located in Hyderabad, Chennai, kolkatta, Bangalore and Kochi are commonly referred to as “Tollywood”(Telugu),”Kollywood”, “Tollywood”(Bangla), “Sandalwood” and “Mollywood”. The remaining majority portion is spread across northern, western, and southern India (with Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, Oriya, Assamese Cinema). However, there are several smaller centers of Indian film industries in regional languages centered in the states where those languages are spoken.
Indian films are made filled with musicals, action, romance, comedy, and an increasing number of special effects. The cinema of India consists of films produced across India, which includes the cinematic cultures of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Indian films came to be followed throughout Southern Asia, the Greater Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union.
The cinema as a medium gained popularity in the country as many as 1,000 films in various languages of India were produced annually. Expatriates in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States garnered international audiences for Indian films of various languages. Dadasaheb Phalke is the Father of Indian cinema. The Dadasaheb Phalke Award, for lifetime contribution to cinema, was instituted in his honour, by the Government of India in 1969, and is the most prestigious and coveted award in Indian cinema.
In the 20th century, Indian cinema, along with the Hollywood and Chinese film industries, became a global enterprise. At the end of 2010 it was reported that in terms of annual film output, India ranks first, followed by Nollywood, Hollywood and China. Indian film industry reached overall revenues of $1. 86 billion (Rs 93 billion) in 2011. This is projected to rise to $3 billion (Rs 150 billion) in 2016. Enhanced technology paved the way for upgrading from established cinematic norms of delivering product, altering the manner in which content reached the target audience.
Visual effects based, super hero and science fiction films like Krrish, Enthiran, Ra. One, Eega,Magadheera and Krrish 3 emerged as blockbusters. Indian cinema found markets in over 90 countries where films from India are screened. Films by Indian directors like Satyajit Ray, Yash Chopra, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G. Aravindan, Shaji N. Karun, B. Narsing Rao, Girish Kasaravalli, Shyam Benegal Maniratnam and B N Reddy have been screened in various international film festivals. Other Indian filmmakers such as Shekhar
Kapur, Mira Nair, Rajnesh Domalpalli, Deepa Mehta, Nagesh Kukunoor and Karan Johar have also found success overseas. The Indian government extended film delegations to foreign countries such as the United States of America and Japan while the country’s Film Producers Guild sent similar missions through Europe. Sivaji Ganesan, and S. V. Ranga Rao won their respective first international award for Best Actor held at Afro-Asian Film Festival in Cairo and Indonesian Film Festival in Jakarta for the films Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Narthanasala in 1959 and 1963.
India is the world’s largest producer of films. In 2009, India produced a total of 2961 films on celluloid, that include 1288 feature films. The provision of 100% foreign direct investment has made the Indian film market attractive for foreign enterprises such as 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. Indian enterprises such as Sun Network’s Sun Pictures, Zee, UTV, Suresh Productions, and Adlabs also participated in producing and distributing films. Tax incentives to multiplexes have aided the multiplex boom in India.
By 2003 as many as 30 film production companies had been listed in the National Stock Exchange of India, making the commercial presence of the medium felt. The South Indian film industry defines the four film cultures of South India as a single entity. They are the Kannada, the Malayalam, the Tamil and the Telugu industries. Although developed independently for a long period of time, gross exchange of film performers and technicians as well as globalisation helped to shape this new identity.
The Indian diaspora consists of millions of Indians overseas for which films are made available both through mediums such as DVDs and by screening of films in their country of residence wherever commercially feasible. These earnings, accounting for some 12% of the revenue generated by a mainstream film, contribute substantially to the overall revenue of Indian cinema, the net worth of which was found to be US$1. 3 billion in 2000. Music in Indian cinema is another substantial revenue generator, with the music rights alone accounting for 4–5% of the net revenues generated by a film in India.
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; however, it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centres producing films in multiple languages. Bollywood is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centres of film production in the world. Bollywood is formally referred to as Hindi cinema. There has been a growing presence of Indian English in dialogue and songs as well.
It is common to see films that feature dialogue with English words (also known as Hinglish), phrases, or even whole sentences. Raja Harishchandra (1913), by Dadasaheb Phalke, was the first silent feature film made in India. By the 1930s the industry was producing more than 200 films per annum. The first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara (1931), was a major commercial success. There was clearly a huge market for talkies and musicals; Bollywood and all the regional film industries quickly switched to sound filming.
The 1930s and 1940s were tumultuous times: India was buffeted by the Great Depression, World War II, the Indian independence movement, and the violence of the Partition. Most Bollywood films were unabashedly escapist, but there were also a number of filmmakers who tackled tough social issues, or used the struggle for Indian independence as a backdrop for their plots. In 1937 Ardeshir Irani, of Alam Ara fame, made the first colour film in Hindi, Kisan Kanya. The next year, he made another colour film, a version of Mother India. However, colour did not become a popular feature until the late 1950s.
At this time, lavish romantic musicals and melodramas were the staple fare at the cinema. HISTORY Following the screening of the Lumiere moving pictures in London (1895) cinema became a sensation across Europe and by July 1896 the Lumiere films had been in show in Bombay (now Mumbai). In the next year a film presentation by one Professor Stevenson featured a stage show at Calcutta’s Star Theatre. With Stevenson’s encouragement and camera Hiralal Sen, an Indian photographer, made a film of scenes from that show, namely The Flower of Persia (1898). The Wrestlers (1899) by H. S.
Bhatavdekar showing a wrestling match at the Hanging Gardens in Mumbai was the first film ever to be shot by an Indian. It was also the first Indian documentary film. The first Indian film released in India was Shree pundalik a silent film in Marathi by Dadasaheb Torne on 18 May 1912 at ‘Coronation Cinematograph’, Mumbai. Some have argued that Pundalik does not deserve the honour of being called the first Indian film because it was a photographic recording of a popular Marathi play, and because the cameraman—a man named Johnson—was a British national and the film was processed in London. Pre-cinema age
Telling stories from the epics using hand-drawn tableaux images in scroll paintings, with accompanying live sounds have been an age old Indian tradition. These tales, mostly the familiar stories of gods and goddesses, are revealed slowly through choreographic movements of painted glass slides in a lantern, which create illusions of movements. And so when the Lumire brothers’ representatives held the first public showing at Mumbai’s (Bombay) Watson’s Hotel on July 7, 1896, the new phenomenon did not create much of a stir here and no one in the audience ran out at the image of the train speeding towards them, as it did elsewhere.
The Indian viewer took the new experience as something already familiar to him. Harischandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar, who happened to be present for the Lumiere presentation, was keen on getting hold of the Lumiere Cinematograph and trying it out himself rather than show the Lumiere films to a wider audience. The public reception accorded to Wrangler Paranjpye at Chowapatty on his return from England with the coveted distinction he got at Cambridge was covered by Bhatwadekar in December 1901- the first Indian topical or actuality film was born.
In Calcutta, Hiralal Sen photographed scenes from some of the plays at the Classic Theatre. Such films were shown as added attractions after the stage performances or taken to distant venue where the stage performers could not reach. The possibility of reaching a large audience through recorded images which could be projected several times through mechanical gadgets caught the fancy of people in the performing arts and the stage and entertainment business. The first decade of the 20th century saw live and recorded performances being clubbed together in the same programme.
The strong influence of its traditional arts, music, dance and popular theatre on the cinema movement in India in its early days, is probably responsible for its characteristic enthusiasm for inserting song and dance sequences in Indian cinema, even till today. Dada Saheb Phalke Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (1870 – 1944) affectionately called Dadasaheb Phalke is considered as the ‘father of Indian Cinema’. Central in Phalke’s career as a filmmaker was his fervent belief in the nationalistic philosophy of swadeshi, which advocated that Indians should take charge of their own economy in the perspective of future Independence.
Phalke, with his imported camera, exposed single frames of a seed sprouting to a growing plant, shot once a day, over a month-thus inadvertently introducing the concept of ‘time-lapse photography’, which resulted in the first indigenous ‘instructional film’- The Birth of a Pea Plant (1912) – a capsule history of the growth of a pea into a pea-laden plant. This film came very handy in getting financial backing for his first film venture. Raja Harishchandra The opening tableaux presents a scene of royal family harmony- with a space “outside” the frame from where the people emerge, and to which space the king when banished seeks shelter.
The film’s treatment is episodic, following the style of the Indian flok theatre and the primitive novel. Most of the camera set-ups are static, with plenty of movements within the frame. The bathtub sequence where Harishchandra comes to call his wife Taramati, who is in the tub, with her fully drenched attendants is indeed the first bath-tub scene in Indian cinema. All the females in their wet sarees and blouses clinging to their bodies are in fact all males in female grab. Phalke hailed from an orthodox Hindu household – a family of priests with strong religious roots.
So, when technology made it possible to tell stories through moving images, it was but natural that the Indian film pioneer turned to his own ancient epics and puranas for source material. The phenomenal success of Raja Harishchandra was kept up by Phalke with a series of mythological films that followed – Mohini Bhasmasur (1914), significant for introducing the first woman to act before the cameras – Kamalabai Gokhale. The significant titles that followed include – Satyawan Savitri (1914), Satyavadi Raja Harischandra (1917), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kalia Mardan (1919).
Regional Cinema The first film in Southern India was made in 1916 by R Nataraja Mudaliar- Keechaka Vadham. As the title indicates the subject is again a mythological from the Mahabharata. Another film made in Madras – Valli Thiru-Manam (1921) by Whittaker drew critical acclaim and box office success. Hollywood returned Ananthanarayanan Narayanan founded General Pictures Corporation in 1929 and established filmmaking as an industry in South India and became the single largest producer of silent films.
Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra was another centre of active film production in the twenties. In 1919 Baburao K Mistry – popularly known as Baburao Painter formed the Maharashtra Film Co. with the blessings of the Maharaja of Kolhapur and released the first significant historical – Sairandhari (1920) with Balasheb Pawar, Kamala Devi and Zunzarrao Pawar in stellar roles. Because of his special interest in sets, costumes, design and painting, he chose episodes from Maratha history for interpreting in the new medium and specialised in the historical genre.
The exploits of Shivaji and his contemporaries and their patriotic encounters with their opponents formed the recurring themes of his ‘historicals’ which invariably had a contemporary relevance to the people of a nation, who were fighting for liberation from a colonial oppressor. The attack against the false values associated with the Western way of life and their blind imitation by some Indians was humorously brought out by Dhiren Ganguly in his brilliant satirical comedy – England Returned (1921) – presumably the first ‘social satire’ on Indians obsessed with Western values.
And with that another genre of Indian cinema known as ‘the contemporary social’ slowly emerged. Baburao Painter followed it up with another significant film in 1925 – Savkari Pash (The Indian Shylock) – an attempt at realistic treatment of the Indian peasant exploited by the greedy moneylender. In Bengal, a region rich in culture and intellectual activity, the first Bengali feature film in 1917, was remake of Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra.
Titled Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra, it was directed by Rustomjee Dotiwala. Less prolific than Bombay based film industry, around 122 feature films were made in Calcutta in the Silent Era. The first feature film in Tamil, also the first in entire South India, Keechakavatham was made during 1916-17, directed by Nataraja Mudaliar. Marthandavarma (1931) produced by R Sunder Raj, under Shri. Rajeswari Film, Nagercoil, directed by P V Rao, got into a legal tangle and was withdrawn after its premiere.
Based on a celebrated novel by C V Raman Pillai, the film recounts the adventures of the crown prince and how he eliminates the arch-villains to become the unquestioned ruler of the Travancore State. The film has title cards in English and Malayalam, some of which are taken from the original text. A few of the title cards and action make obvious reference to the Swadeshi Movement of the time. Had it not been for the legal embargo, the film would have had a great impact on the regional cinema of the South. Indian Cinema Starts Talking
In the early thirties, the silent Indian cinema began to talk, sing and dance. Alam Ara produced by Ardeshir Irani (Imperial Film Company), released on March 14, 1931 was the first Indian cinema with a sound track. Mumbai became the hub of the Indian film industry having a number of self-contained production units. The thirties saw hits like Madhuri (1932), Indira,M A (1934), Anarkali (1935), Miss Frontier Mail (1936), and Punjab Mail (1939). V Shantararam Among the leading filmmakers of Mumbai during the forties, V Shantaram was arguably the most innovative and ambitious.
From his first talkie Ayodhya ka Raja (1932) to Admi (1939), it was clear that he was a filmmaker with a distinct style and social concern whose films generated wide discussion and debate. He dealt with issues like cast system, religious bigotry and women’s rights. Even when Shantaram took up stories from the past, he used these as parables to highlight contemporary situations. While Amirt Manthan (1934) opposed the senseless violence of Hindu rituals, Dharmatama (1935) dealt with Brahmanical orthodoxy and cast system.
Originally titled Mahatma, the film was entirely banned by the colonial censor on the ground that it treated a sacred subject irreverently and dealt with controversial politics. Amarjyoti (1936) was an allegory on the oppression of women in which the protagonist seeks revenge. It could perhaps be called the first women’s lib film in India. Duniya Na Mane (1937) was about a young woman’s courageous resistance to a much older husband whom she had been tricked into marrying. Admi (1939) was one of Shantaram’s major works.