India today produces largest number of films, annually in the world. The first motion picture India saw was in 1896 when the Lumiere Brothers’ Cinematography screened six soundless short films at Watson Hotel, Esplande Mansion, Bombay on July 7. The first exposing of celluloid in camera by an Indian and its consequent screening took place in 1899, when Harishchandra Bhatvadekar (Save Dada) shot two short films and exhibited them under Edison’s projecting kinetoscope. J.F. Madan and Abdullah Esoofally launched their carrier with Bioscope shows of imported short films. N.G. Chitre and R.G. Torney made a silent feature film Pundalik which was released in May 1912, but it was half British in its make.
However, the real beginning of Indian film industry was made only in 1913 when India’s first fully indigenous silent feature film Raja Harischandra was released. It was produced by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, more propularly known as Dada Saheb Phalke. Therefore, he has been rightly called as the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’. The year 1917 marked the birth of first Bengali feature film – Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra, made by Madan’s Eliphinstone Bioscope Company. In 1919, the first feature film of south India – Keechaka Vadham was made by Nataraja Mudaliar.
Indian cinema gradually assumed the role of a regular industry during 1920s. it also came under the purview of law.
The year 1931 marked the beginning of talkie era when first Indian Talkie Alam Ara, produced by the imperial film company and directly by Ardeshir Irani was released on March 14. The same year marked the beginning of the talkie era in Bengal and South India also. The first talkie film in Bengali Jamai Shasthi, Telugu – Bhakta Prahlada and Tamil – Kalidasa were released 1931.
The thirties is recognized as the decade of social protest in the history of Indian cinema. The decade also witnessed the release of the first talkie films in Marathi (Ayodhiyecha Raja, 1932); Gujarathi (Narasinh Mehta, 1932); Kannada (Dhurukumar, 1934) Oriya (Sita Bibaha, 1934); Assamese (Joymati, 1935); Punjabi (Sheila, 1935) and Malayalam (Balan, 1938).
The decade of World War II and Indian independence was a momentous one for cinematography all over India. Some memorable films making a strong plea against social injustice were produced during the 40s such as Shantharam’s Dr. Kotnis Kitnis Ki Amar Kahani, Mehboob’s Roti, Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar, Uday Shanker’s Kalpana, Abbas’s Dharti Ke Lal. In 1949 Sohrab Modi set a new standard in historical film with Pukar. He later made historical films like Sikander, and Prithvi Vallabh. The forties also saw B.H. Wadia’s Court Dancer, S.S. Vansan’s Chandralekha, Vijay Bhatt’s Bharat Milap and Ram Rojya, Rajkapoor’s Barsaat and Aag.
The first International Film Festival of India held in early 1952 at Bombay had great impact on Indian Cinema. The big turning point came in 1955 with the arrival of Satyajit Ray and his classic Pather Panchali. This film got international recognition when it received the Cannes Award for ‘the best human document’ followed by other foreign and national awards.
In Hindi cinema too, the impact of neorealism was evident in some distinguished films like Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin, Devadas and Madhumati, Rajkapoor’s Boot Polish, Shri 420 and Jagta Raho, V. Shantharam’s Do Aankhen Brah Haath and Jhanak Janak Payal Baaje, Mehboob’s Mother India. The first Indo-Soviet co-production Pardesi was also made during fifties by Abbas.
The sixties was a decade of mediocre films made mostly to please the distributors and to some extent, meet the demands of the box office. The sixties began with a bang with the release of K. Asif’s Mughal-E-Azam, which set a record at the box-office. Notable productions were: Rajkapoor’s Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Sangam, Dilip Kumar’s Gunga Jumna, Gurudutt’s Sahib Bibi our Gulam, Dev Anand’s Guide, Bimal Roy’s Bandini, S. Kukherji’s Junglee, Sunil Dutt’s Mujhe Jeene Do and the experiemental Yaadein, Basu Bhattacharya’s Teesri Kasam, Pramod Chakravorthy’s Love in Tokyo, Ramanand Sagar’s Arzoo, Sakhti Samantha’s Aradhana, Hrishikesh Mukherji’s Aashirwad and Anand, B.R. Chopra’s Waqt, Manoj Kumar’s Upkar’s, and Prasad Productions’ Milan.
Malayalam cinema hit the headlines for the first time when Ramu Kariat’s Chemmeen (1965) won the President’s Gold Medal. Towards the end of the decade, Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome, signalled the beginning of the new wave in Indian Cinema. Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen were the founding fathers of the new cinema in India. Pather Panchali, Aparajito, ApurSansar, Charulata, Jalsaghar, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Seemabhadha, Jana Aranya, Ashani Sanket and Agantuk are some of Ray’s outstanding films. He was fortunate enough to present his films in almost all the leading film festivals of the world. The national and international awards won by Ray are numerous. Mrinal Sen’s notable films are Chorus, Mrigya, Ek Din Pratidin, Geneses etc. like Ray, Mrinal Sen also has won several national &international awards. Ritwik Ghatak films constitute a record of the traumas of change from the desperation of rootles and deprived refugees from East Bengal. Some of his films are Meghe Dhaka Tara, Komal Gandhar etc.
The seventies saw the coming up great director and films like Govind Nihlani (Aakrosh), Saeed Mirza (Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Atta Hai), Sai Paranjape (Sparsh), Rabindra Dharmaraj (Chakra) and Muzaffar Ali (Gaman).
The seventies’ popular Hindi hits were Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeeja, Rajkapoor’s Bobby, Devar’s Haathi Mere Saathi, Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay, Zanjeer, Deewar, Yaadon Ki Baarat, Kabhi Kabhi, Dharamveer, Amar Akbar Antony, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Muquaddar Ka Sikandar.
Down in the South, the new wave cinema originated in Karnataka and Kerala. Pattabhi Rama Reddy’s Samskara (1970) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Swayamvaram (1972) were the trend setter in Kannada and Malayalam.
The new cinema movement continued with full spirit in the next decade (eighties) also. Shyam Benegal presented some good movies like manthan, Bhumika, Nishant, Junoon, and Trikal. Nihlani’s Aaghat and Tamas were remarkable works. Other important films with new style of tremant include Damul (Prakash Jha), 26-Chowringhee Lane (Aparna Sen), New Delhi Times (Ramesh Sharma), Mirch Masala (Ketan Mehta), Rao Saheb (Vijaya Mehta), Debshishu (Utpalendu Chakraborthy), Massey sahib (Pradeep Kishan), Tirhsgni (Nabayandu Ghosh), Ijaazat (Gulzar), Umrao Jaan (Musafir Ali), Dakhal, Paar (Gautam Ghose), etc.
The new wave masters of Kerala, Adoor and Aravindan consolidated their position in the eighties with their films Elippathayam, Mukha Mukham, Anantharam, Esthappan, Pokkuveyil, Chidambaram, and Oridath.Shaji N. Karun’s maiden filmPiravi (1988) bagged several national and international awards and was shown in nearly forty filmfestivals.
Mira Nair, the young woman-director, won the Golden Camera award at Cannes for her first filmSalaam Bombay in 1989. In 1990, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Mathilukal won the FIPRESCI and UNICEF awards. The late 80s and early 90s saw the revival of the musical love stories in Hindi cinema like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Chandini, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, etc.,
The first half of nineties witnessed the release of some better films in Hindi as well as in other regional languages. Drishtti and Drokhkal (Nihalani), Lekin (Gulzar), DIsha (Sai Parajpe) Prahar (Nana Patekar), Parinda (Vinad Chopra) Diskha (Arun Kaul), Rudaali (Kalpana Lajmi) Maya Memsaab (Ketan Mehta), Kujhse Dosti Karoge (Gopi Desai), Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda & Mammo (Benegal), Who Chokri (Subhankar Ghosh)& Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Tapan Sinha)weresome of the notable Hindi films. from Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Manipur came films like Tahader Katha, Bagh Bahadur, Charachar (Buddhadeb Dasgupta), Uttoran (Sandeip Ray), Wheel Chair (Tapan Sinha), Unishe April (Rituparno Ghosh), Adi Mimansa, Lalvanya Preethi (A.K. Bir), Nirbachana (biplab Roy Chowdhari), Halodhia Choraya Baodhan Khai, Firingoti (ahnu Barua), Haladhar (Sanjeev Hazarika) and Ishanou (Aribam Shayam Sharma).
In the nineties, Malayalam cinema presented some notable films including Vidheyan (Adoor), Bharatham (Sibi Malayil), Amaram (Barathan) Sagam (Hariharan), Kilukkam(Priyadasan) Deivathinte Vikruthikal (Lenin Rajendran) Kadavu (M.T) Manichitrathazhu(Fazil) Ponthanmada (T.B.Chandran) and Swam (Shaji). Tamil and Telugu cinema, there came Anjali, Roja and Bombay (Mani Ratnam), Marupakkam and Nammavar (Sethumadhavan), Karuthamma (Bharathi Raja), Surigadu (Desari Narayana Rao), etc. English films like Miss. Beatty’s Children (Pamela Rooks),and English August (Dev Benegal)were produced during this period.
Some of the hits of the 1994 to 1996 are: Roja, Hum Aap Ke Hai Kaun, Bombay, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kalapani, Rangeela, Kathapurushan, Manichitrathazhu, Indian (Hindustani), Agnisakshi and Khamosi.
Some of the hits of 1997 include Raja Hindustani, Border, Desadanam Avai Shanmughi, Kulam, and Lal Darja.
National Film Festival
The scheme of national filmfestival (earlier called National Awards for films) was instituted in 1953. It aims at promoting India’s film art by acknowledging outstanding achievements in several categories film art and film making. This includes an award for the best book on cinema, instituted in 1982 for the first time. The golden lotus (Swarna Kamal), the silver lotus (Rajat Kamal), and cash prizes are given under the national awards scheme. The regional awards are meant for films produced in the principal languages of the country. Besides, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, instituted in 1969, is given for the outstanding contribution to the cause of Indian cinema. The Phalke Award is decided by the Government and entries for the national filmfestival are examined by the two national juries for films, one for short films and the other for feature films.
The film and television institute of India
It was established in 1960 at Pune, by the Government of India, with the object of imparting technical training in a systematic manner in the art and craft of film making. On October 1, 1974 the institute became a society registered under the Registration of Societies Act of 1860. The Film wing offer courses leading to Diploma in Cinema with specialization in areas like direction, cinematography, editing sound recording and sound engineering.
Central Board of Film Certification
The certification of this regular body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is essential for the public exhibition of films in India. The Central Board has several regional offices at Bangalore, Mumbai, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Chennai, Thiruvanthapuram and New Delhi. The Board examines certification in accordance with the provisions contained in Cinematograph Act 1952, Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983 and the guidelines issued by the Central Government in this regard. Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, with headquarters in New Delhi, bears appeals against the decision of the CBFC. Normally films are certified U (Universal Showing – no restrictions) and ‘A’ (Restricted to adults only).
Established in 1948, it is perhaps the world’s single largest producer and distributor of news reels and documentaries. Besides, it also produces 16 mm featurette for rural audience in regional languages. It also produces cartoon films and educational films.
National Film Development Corporation Limited (Nfdc)
NFDC is a central agency established to promote good cinema in the country. The NFDC was formed by the merger of the erstwhile Film Finance Corporation (FFC) and Indian Motion Picture Export Corporation (IMPEC) in 1975. NDFC also plays an important role in the import of foreign films and the export of Indian films.
Directorate of Film Festivals
The Directorate of Film Festivals was set up in 1973 with a view to promoting good Indian films in India and abroad. The Directorate is entrusted with the organization of national and international filmfestivals, film weeks under cultural exchange programmes and participation in International filmfestivals. It also organizes the National Film Awards annually. Film awards are given every year to outstanding films.
National Film Archive of India (NFAI)
With headquarters at Pune, it is a pioneer institution set up in 1964 with the objective of acquisition and preservation of National Cinema, film classification, documentation and research encouraging film technology and spread of film culture in the country. The Achieve has a collection of more than 6500 films from all over the world. NFAI has regional offices at Calcutta, Bangalore and Thiruvannanthapuram.
Children’s Film Society
Established in 1955, it is engaged in the production, acquisition, distribution and exhibition of films for children. The Society also organizes International Children’s Film Festivals in India and participates in filmfestivals abroad.