Indian Film Industry



Cinema as a medium gained popularity in India way back in the 20th century and became a global enterprise. The Indian Film Industry has seen immense change and has went through a transition in the last century. Initially, short films were made, directed by Hiralal Sen, starting with The Flower of Persia in 1898. Then, the first full length silent movie was released in 1913. Later, Ardeshir Irani released Alam Ara which was the first Indian talking film, on 14 March 1931. As sound technology advanced the 1930s saw the rise of music in Indian cinema with musicals such as Indra Sabha and Devi Devyani marking the beginning of song-and-dance in India’s films. Studios emerged across major cities such as Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai as film making became an established craft by 1935, exemplified by the success of Devdas, which had managed to enthrall audiences nationwide.

Following India’s independence, the period from the late 1940s to the 1960s are regarded by film historians as the ‘Golden Age’ of Indian cinema. Some of the most critically acclaimed Indian films of all time were produced during this period. Examples include the Guru Dutt films Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) and the Raj Kapoor films Awaara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955). These films expressed social themes mainly dealing with working-class urban life in India. After Indian independence the cinema of India was inquired by the S.K. Patil Commission. In 1960, an institution came into being to provide financial support to talented filmmakers throughout India. The Indian government had established a Films Division by 1949 which eventually became one of the largest documentary film producers in the world with an annual production of over 200 short documentaries, each released in 18 languages with 9000 prints for permanent film theaters across the country. The Indian “masala”, was a word used by now to refer to the movies. “Bollywood” is a slang used for the Indian Film Industry.

During the 1960s, Indira Gandhi’s intervention during her reign as the Information and Broadcasting Minister of India further led to production of off-beat cinematic expression being supported by the official Film Finance Corporation. A number of Indian films from different regions, from this era are often included among the greatest films of all time in various critics’ and directors’ polls. Vijay Bhatt’s Baiju Bawra, Mehboob Khan’s Mother India and K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam, are some of the prominent movies of that period. Some filmmakers such as Shyam Benegal continued to produce realistic Parallel Cinema throughout the 1970s. The 1970s did, nevertheless, see the rise of commercial cinema in form of enduring films such as Sholay (1975) and Deewar(1975). Commercial Hindi cinema further grew throughout the 1980s and the 1990s with the release of films such as Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) Mr India (1987), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Tezaab (1988), Chandni (1989), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Baazigar (1993), Darr (1993), Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Later films belonging to the Mumbai noir genre came up which include Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar (2001) and Traffic Signal (2007), Ram Gopal Varma’s Company (2002) and its prequel D (2005), Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday (2004). At the end of 2010, Bollywood is rated first in terms of annual film output.

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