History of Indian Cinema

Replete with blockbuster hits, box office record breakers and mega movies stars, this world filled with media attention and gossips is one of the most booming industries in India today- Bollywood. The life of a movie star seems so glamorous and luxurious, but it is only when we move back the timeline that we realize the struggle that the Indian cinema has been through.

The Indian cinema industry dates back to the 19th century, more than a hundred years ago. The very first film to be shot was by Lumiere Brothers which was shown in Mumbai. The Lumiere Brothers, born in France, were the children of a couple who ran a photographic portrait studio in Besancon, France. On the 7th of July 1896 the Lumiere Brothers showcased six films at the Watson Hotel in Mumbai. This marked the birth of the now gigantic Indian cinema. After the first films were shown in Mumbai, Indians were inspired and fascinated, which led to yet another milestone in the history of cinema. Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatavdekar, commonly and popularly known as Save Dada, who was then a still photographer, drew his inspiration from the ‘Lumiere Brothers’ production and ordered a camera from England during the 1800s. He shot a short clipping which then was shown as a film was shot at the Hanging Garden in Mumbai, known as ‘The Wrestlers.’ It was a small and a simple recording of a wrestling match that was screened in 1899 and was considered as the first motion picture of the movie Industry.

The father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, released the first ever full-length feature film by name ‘Raja Harischandra’ in the year 1913. This the silent film was a commercial success. The reason behind this movie standing out among the others was not just because it was the first movie released, but because of the fact that Dadasaheb was the director, writer, cameraman, editor, make-up artist and the art director. He made the movie entirely on his own. He eventually stepped into the limelight with having produced 23 films from 1913 to 1918. The biggest achievement that Dadasaheb had was that his first movie became the first ever Indian film which was screened in London in 1914. Ever since then, new production companies emerged in the 1920s. The movies that were produced back then were mainly about mythological and historical lores and episodes from epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Gradually, the industry witnessed immense growth especially during 1917 to 1932, but movie production declined during the Second World War. The modern film industry came into existence somewhere around 1947. During this time the movies that were released mainly focused on the common man’s miseries. They focused on shining a light upon slavery, prostitution, polygamy among the others. This period in the history of cinema was remarkable and an outstanding transformation was witnessed in the quality of the movies, the actors and the script. The 50s and 60s are known as the golden age in Indian cinematic history. This era alone saw the magnanimous rise of exceptionally great actors like Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari among many more. Along with the improvisation and refining of the acting sector of the industry, the musical industry also began gaining predominance by playing an essential role in the making of the movies. Similarly, as Bollywood began dominating the industry as a whole, many more regional industries came into existence all over the country.

With the 1990s rolling right behind, there was a clear cut difference between the evolution of the narratives used in the movies and in the development of script writing. By this era, conventional love stories had become very popular. The audience loved watching these orchestrated love stories, and began rooting for actors to fall in love behind the screens. The theme or background of the movies commenced with mythological tales, moved on to delivering a realistic portrayal of the common man’s misery on the silver screen, and slowly evolved to realign its focus on the fantasy world. Manmohan Desai, the pioneer of Hindi masala movies stated that he wanted people to forget the misery, and rather live in a dream world where there is no poverty, or beggars– a place where fate is kind and good triumphs over evil. Thus began the movie industry that we get to see today. The overview of these industries help us understand and realise how the inspirational trend of cinemas spread through the country. Prior to cinemas, people indulged themselves in the theatrical sphere primarily through dramas, plays, cultural festivals and storytelling. With the coming of cinema the tastes of the audience developed, leading to the growth of the film industry at large.

In the recent couple of years, there has been a spectacular innovation through the birth of independent films and short films featuring in international film festivals. Evidently, the Indian industry has come a long way. This is yet another feather in the hat of glory for the film fraternity. With high expectation and hopes, the future of movies already seems innovative and bright.

Picture Credits : www.movietalkies.com

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