Golden Age Of Indian Cinema
The 1950s was led film historians to refer to this glorious time as the golden age of Indian Cinema. Film makers created authored and individual works while sticking strictly within the set conventions of the films. The example of Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Nehru’s vision of the newly independent nation was also highly influential throughout the decade, and many excellent Urdu poets and writers worked with film makers in the hope of creating a cinema that would be socially meaningful. It is no surprise that the 1950s is regarded today as the finest period in Indian cinema, and the era has profoundly influenced generations of Indian film makers in a way that no other decade has done since.
The best directors of the time, including Mehboob Khan, Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt, brought new depth to established themes. They drew on the wide spectrum of cinema stories, but brought to them a personal vision. The films of the late 1940s , 1950s and early 1960s were lyrical and powerful and dealt with themes including the exploitation of the poor by rich landlords (DO BIGHA ZAMEEN, 1953), the importance of sacrifice and honour (MOTHER INDIA), survival in the big city ( BOOT POLISH, 1954) , untouchability (SUJATA, 1959) , the changing role of the woman (Mr. and Mrs.55, 1955), urban vs rural morality (SHREE 420, 1955), nature vs nurture (AWAARA, 1951), dilemas faced by modern Indians (ANDAZ,1949), materialism vs spiritualism (PYAASA, 1957) and the importance of destiny (CHAUDHVIN KA CHAND, 1960). These films show a complex and sophisticated mix of characters, plots, ideasand morals.
The important film makers of this period not only made commercially successful works but also mastered the language of cinema. They understood how performance, photography, editing and above all, music could be used to create a new aesthetic. It was around this time that Indian films started to receive regular worldwide distribution, and films such as AWAARA made by Raj Kapoor and his co- star Nargis major celebrity in places as far afield as Russia and China. Mehboob’s AAN (1952, AKA MANGALA, Daughter of India) and MOTHER INDIA (Perhaps the best known Indian films of all) also won large audiences beyond the Indian sub continent.
The average Indian film does not pretend to offer a unique storyline. A new twist to a familiar storyline helps a film to succeed, if the audience is looking for originality, they know it is principally to be found in the score. Film music is of such primary importance in today’s Indian cinema that it more or less determines the box- office fate of most movies. Leading choreographer Farah Khan believes that, ‘What is saving Indian cinema from being engulfed by Hollywood is our song and dance routines, because they just can’t imitate that’.
The Middle Cinema –
Indian Cinema , dominated in the 1970’s by the Sippy’s , Hrishikesh Mukherjee , B.R. Ishara and Vijay Anand , was jolted out of its wits when Shyam Benegal assisted by Blaze enterprises , shot into prominence with ‘Ankur’ (1974), and later with ‘Nishant’(1975), ‘Manthan’, ‘Bhumika’(1977) and Junoon (1979). Benegal turned his back on the standard ‘Kalyug’ and ‘Aradhana’ (1981) genre, injecting a dose of caste – politics into his first three films. He was closely associated with the making of Govind Nihalani’s ‘‘Akrosh’ (1980), a political film about the exploitation of illiterate Adivasis. ‘Ardh Satya’ (1984), ‘Party’ (an expose of the upper middle class), and his TV serial on the partition of India, ‘Tamas’, have been significant success.While the films of Mrinal Sen, Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani did not fare very well at the box office, those of the ‘middle cinema’ reaped a good harves. Saeed Mirza’s ‘Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai’ , ‘Mphan Joshi Hajir Ho’ and ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ , Rabindra Dharmaraj’s ‘Chakra’ and Ketan Mehta’s ‘ Bhavni Bhavai’ (in Gujarati and Hindi), ‘ Mirch Masala’ , and later ‘ Maya Memsahib’ , ‘ Sardar’ , started a trend in the making of socially conscious and political films which were entertaining as well . Both the New Wave and the Middle Cinema wilted under the impact of multichannel television , ‘ Commercial cinema’ , the commercialization of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), and above all the abysmal lack of exhibition outlets .
The gradual decline of the Film Society movement too had a arole in the fading away of ‘Parallel cinema’.
The Second New Wave – As the century drew to a close , there was a revival of the New Wave spirit , with some assistance from the NFDC , Doordarshan , overseas TV companies such as channel four of Britain , and private financiers . Some termed this revival the ‘Second New Wave’, even though most of the film makers involved in the revival was also part of the first New Wave. Mani Kaul ( Nazar , The Idiot, Siddeshwari), hyam Benegal (The Making Of The Mahatma , Mammo…….. Saatvan Ka Ghoda , Sardari Begum), Saees Mirza (Naseem -1996), Adoor Gopalakrishnan (Kathapurusham – 1995), Girish Kasaravalli (Mane – 1996), Thai Saheb (1998) , Govind Nihalani (Hazar Chourasi Ki Maa – 1998), Kumar Shahani (Chaar Adhayay – 1997) and others in different regional languages of the country helped keep the spark of ‘alternative’ cinema alive. The establishment of the National Centre for Children and Young People (NCYP) provided an impetus to the making of films targeted at Indian Youth.
Colour And Triumph Of Romance – The 1980s weren’t a particularly strong time for film music either. The movie that brought back music and young romance was Mansoor Khan’s 1988 film QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK – a love story along the lines of a modern Romeo and Juliet, showing two young lovers blighted by their feuding families. Lead actor Aamir Khan shot to fame as the teen idol of the late eighties. QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK was followed by Sooraj Barjatya’s MAINE PYAR KIYA in 1989, another romantic movie with great music and family values, which brought another cinematic idol to the fore – Salman Khan. A third actor with the same surname – Sharukh Khan became the biggest new star of the 1990s. Sharukh Khan began his career in the theatre and television before he got his big break playing a psychopath in BAAZIGAR (1993). He has acted in all of the big hits of the 1990s, including Aditya Chopra’s excellent romance, DILWALE DULHANIA LEJAYENGE (1995), and Karan Johar’s delightful KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI (1998). Sharukh Khan believes Indian cinema shares its dependence on love stories and simple plot lines with Hollywood.