Indian Cinema completes 100 years on May 3rd 2013 from the release of its first ever full length feature film, Raja Harishchandra by Dadasaheb Phalke (1913)
A great article on the 100 years of Indian Cinema –
This post isn’t about 100 years of Indian cinema. It is about what i think are the issues that are causing blockages on our road to keep creating good and better cinema.
100 years of Indian Cinema is a proud moment for every Indian undoubtedly but away from the pride and celebrations , Indian cinema, interestingly, finds itself in a transition phase in the point of view of many renowned film personalties and critics. To mark this, 2012 in itself was considered as a year of importance for Bollywood as it saw many releases that certified the presence of strong independent voices coming from some of India’s quality film makers. Sujoy Ghosh’s
Kahaani created a sensation and was declared a smash hit, not getting too much into the details of every independent film but this was the case with most of these films namely Anurag Kashyap‘s Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Basu‘s Barfi! , Gauri Shinde‘s English Vinglish , Shoojit Sircar‘s Vicky Donor and Dibakar Banerjee‘s Shanghai. Vicky Donor for example addressed sperm donation which many didn’t see coming by the look of things in Bollywood. Over seas, audiences are in plenty, looking for good Indian cinema but we have to change somethings about ourselves. Bollywood has a number of issues at present which are as good as hindrances in its quickly needed progress. It seems as though Bollywood has become addicted to ‘remakes’, ‘sequels’ , ‘item numbers’ and somethings as unexplainably senseless as ‘opening week collections, opening day collections and 100 CRORE CLUB’. Many of these films, that crossed the so called ‘100 crore’ mark have a very low ability to ‘thrive’ after they are out of the theatres. There are great films in the ‘100 crore’ category too, obviously, but a majority of them become a text book example of monotony. A major section of the ‘100 Crore Club’ entity thrives solely in dependence of the Star system in India. Anurag Kashyap once said, “Star system is there everywhere but in India it is not just star system, it is a star driver system. The same people get awards. In Hollywood also there is a star system. There is a star called Tom Cruise. But Tom Cruise hasn’t really got any awards.”
During a front row conversation with the Directors of Bombay Talkies (Anupama Chopra’s reputed show on Star World India) Dibakar Banerjee recently pointed out that the technicians in the film industry are most ignored and paid less despite film being known as a technical medium.
Zoya Akhtar in the same panel interview said ” Today they are making sequels of movies that shouldn’t have been made in the first place” Karan Johar highlighted the ‘herd mentality’ in the film industry. It is believed that many young film makers, having low budget but great scripts in store for the audience arent getting the required amount of space in the Industry. Dibakar Banerjee also said “Too many films are chasing too few weekends” Coming away from these issues, putting them behind us is the only way the Indian cinema can move forward.
Signs of hope aren’t the new , different types of cinema that are being released. The signs of hope can be taken from the fact that certain audiences are slowly beginning to search for something different. It is a slow process but proof of its existence is beginning to gain visibility. Hence the success of recent films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Kahaani , Gangs of Wasseypur, Talaash, Barfi! ,
Vicky Donor, English Vinglish as well as anticipation for the next few movies of the Directors of these films. Selected film makers have began to ‘not bother’ about issues of box office results over recovery and have gradually started making films out of passion and solely to tell good stories.
Cinema for the intelligent audiences is emerging. The ‘want’ to watch Indian movies overseas has increased by a large margin. Indian films are being talked about and rumor has it that Film industries are also looking to remake some of them. Indian cinema, known to take large scale influence from foreign films, has begun to inspire film makers from foreign countries too.
What Next and what should be avoided ?
The Next 100 years of Indian Cinema can be considered as a new beginning for all kinds of cinema. Cinema for everybody. Cinema that is fearless, real, bold and original. It may be wrongly interpreted that commercial cinema is bad or anything of the sort. Away from the genres of most of the commercial films and the topics they address, commercial cinema is actually something good. The money made by commercial films is also a positive factor for Indian Cinema. Glorifying and highlighting films that made 100 Crores and which film got the ‘biggest opening’ is a different matter all together. That has to do with the attitude of beginning to evaluate everything in terms of money as Rajkumar Hirani had once said about the ‘100 crore club’.
In the coming years, our audiences should be ready to face a new beginning. They should be ready for a surprise element in the film industry rather than expecting the same type of films , very often , the same genres, the same stars, doing the same thing. More film makers should begin to not consider only commercial aspects of film making and start becoming strong voices and tell good stories. The Certification Board should give our makers a chance to tell us the ‘many stories’ that they haven’t had the freedom to even start writing with the fear of the obviously expected objection from the Board for its release. Small issues like character names shouldn’t be associated with people from the country only to cause headlines. Film makers often fear using surnames for the same reason! The fever of attempting to ban films just because of the topics they address should be disposed in the dump yard because we have to face it, the people who voice concerns over films and start riots to cause their ban, have, in most cases, not watched the movie !! Censoring films that are already Adult Rated (Foreign Films mostly) never made sense. It should become inexistent. An increase in Plagiarism discouragement has to take place five fold and originality should be a sort of a public demand by the audience ! Hilariously enough, movies that are sent for the Oscars by India should be judged much better. Films that contain scenes lifted from this and that movie will probably be laughed off by the Oscar Jury. Repeating , the addiction to ‘remakes’, ‘sequels’ , ‘item numbers’ and ‘Opening week collections…100 crore club’ , should be over come. None of them even minutely certify good cinema. Song lyrics from many recent films have seemingly degraded drastically, almost detaching us completely from the beautifully soothing melodious lyrics of our own, old films making clearly no sense in many many cases. When we speak of lyrics, some films have been attacked because of their ‘controversial lyrics’. People stand up challenging directors to remove the song or to change the lyrics. Attracting News Channels and Public attention is again, speaking about the attitude of these certain people. Nothing can be done about that. But, in the past, the songs that have been attacked for their ‘controversial lyrics’, were usually for one or two words towards which audiences are often ignorant and simply unaware. If India tackles these issues, our films and our film makers have an even greater chance to stand tall in Global Cinema.
The largest film industry on the Planet
We have a HUGE film industry with the greatest diversity and variety in terms of language, culture, understanding and sensibility amongst the makers as well as the audience members. In Indian Cinema, the audiences live the movies. India makes films in more than SIXTEEN different languages, which for instance in the year 2011, amounted to an aggregate of 1,255 movies in the whole year! For those who thought that Bollywood made far more films than any other Indian film industry, in the same year, Hindi film industry made 206 films and Telugu made 192 films. Tamil made 185. That answers many questions.
Its extremely exciting to think about whats coming next in the new era of Indian Cinema! Thrilling indeed. We are proud to be the largest film industry in the World.