India Cinema

By | January 5, 2022

With 1451 films produced and certified between April and December 2014 (data from the Central board of film certification, Ministry of information and broadcasting, Government of India), India continues to be the world’s leading producer of cinema: a plurality of films, in 16 languages. Popular cinema in Hindi, mainly produced in Mumbai, with 233 films represents just over 16% of the entire production, despite having a catchment area that can reach over 400 million spectators. The supremacy in the market remains that of popular cinema linked to the star system in Hindi, Bollywood (from Hollywood + Bombay), followed by that in Tamil, Kollywood (Hollywood + Kodambakkam, name of the area on the outskirts of Chennai, Madras, which hosts the film production centers).

Among the big productions in Hindi, three blockbuster Bollywood films raised various controversies in 2014 for the sensitive subjects addressed: Haider, Mary Kom and Kaum de Heere. In Haider , Vishal Bhardwaj, adaptation from ‘ Hamlet Shakespeare, they tell the police violence in Kashmir, a Muslim majority state; Mary Kom, by Amung Kumar, produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is the Bollywood sports biography of five-time world boxing champion Mary Kom, originally from Manipur, the northeastern state plagued by armed conflicts between central government and rebels; and again, in Kaum de Heere, by Ravinder Ravi, tells the story of the two Punjabi bodyguards responsible for the murder of Indira Gandhi. In particular Bhardwaj, screenwriter, director, producer, musician, playback singer, had also confronted Shakespeare in his previous films, Maqbool (2003) and Omkara (2006), respectively inspired by Macbeth and Othello, transported to the present. Bhardwaj works with popular stars such as Om Puri, Ajay Devgan, Safi Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Karena Kapoor, Nasserauddin Shah (the latter has often been involved in independent film as Irfan Khan), and actresses Bipasha Basu and Tabu. Bhansali, director, producer, composer, is the author of many films including Devdas (2002), with two megastars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai. Mary Kom, which cost 2 million euros, collected 16 in the first three weeks.

According to Topschoolsintheusa, over the past decade, a metamorphosis entrusted to the new generation of independent filmmakers has helped redefine the traditionally conservative mainstream. The urban middle class has grown by absorbing the Anglophone culture of the large shopping centers (malls) within which multiplex theaters are located, which have given visibility to works by independent directors and producers. In the Hindi cinema of the new independent directors, various often violent works in which crime becomes a family business tackle the theme of the crisis of conservative, patriarchal family values. As in Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) by Anurag Kashyap, an epic about a family of bandits followed over three generations. Or in Miss Lovely (2012) by Ashim Ahluwalia, a devastating five-hour story of two brothers, set in the world of horror-porn. Or in a low-budget film like Kanu Behl’s Titli (2014) which, despite being an independent film, was distributed by Yash Raj Films (by Yash Copra, producer and distributor of classic Bollywood cinema linked to the star system). Titli, shot on the urban outskirts of New Delhi, is the story of the youngest of three brothers, looking for an escape from the brutal violence (a constant feature of Hindi commercial drama) of his older brother. Also distributed in Italy, Lunchbox (2013) by Ritesh Batra, co-produced between India, France, Germany and the United States by Karan Johbar, instead tells of an epistolary relationship in Mumbai between a young wife and an unknown man, a love encounter between two solitudes. While Umrika (2015) by Prashant Nair, financed by Manish Mun dra, an independent producer based in Dubai, is the story of two brothers: the elder, who emigrated to America (Umrika in the title) is in correspondence with his younger brother, encouraged to face the metropolis of Mumbai.

The Hindi-language cinema is followed by the Telegu-language production, basically in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh (the so-called Tollywood), with 215 films produced in 2014.

However, it is starting from South India, in the languages ​​of Dravidian origin, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, that ‘regional’ cinema has definitively established itself with over 500 films produced. The dynamic production (220 films in 2014) in Tamil (spoken by over 60 million people in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Singapore) is full of stars, such as musician Allah Rakha Rahman, Oscar winner for the soundtrack of Slumdog millionaire (2008; The millionaire) by Danny Boyle, and megastar Rajinikanth (the highest paid actor in India, known for his surreal comedies), and is characterized by an exaggerated style, which leaves one breathless, and for the mix of genres. A very successful funny film like Pannaiyarum Padminiyum (2014, known as Landlord and Padminiyum ), based on a short film much appreciated by the public, by the same director Arun Kumar that tells the passion of a man for his Fiat 1100.

To the east there is production in Bengali – the second language of India, with almost 200 million native speakers between Bangla Desh and West Bengal – which reached 116 films in 2014 and in which Asha Jaoar stands out. Majhe (2014, known as Labor of love), by Bengali Aditya Vikram Sengupta, 85 minutes without dialogue, with the camera that follows only two characters, in the scenography of old buildings in Calcutta, first work by Sengupta, painter beyond what an author and director.

They are instead in the Kannada language (spoken by 64 million people, residents in the state of Karnataka, with the capital Bangalore) The nature (2014) by Panchakshari, former assistant director of Girish Kasaravalli, a film based on the work of the writer UR Unanthamurthy, the whose protagonist is a woman trapped between patriarchal values ​​and sexual attraction; Attihannu Mattu Kanaja (2014, known as Fig fruit and the wasps), the first work by the painter and director Prakash Babu, the story of a documentarian in search of folkloristic musical materials, and the social comedy December 1 (2013), written and directed by P. Sheshadri. The subject of the rejected community and persecuted personalities is in the Court (2014) in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English, written and directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. Narrates the court case of a folk singer accused of instigating a poor population to commit suicide with his songs. In Oraalppokkam (2014, known as Six feet high), the first work by the Keralan director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, the separation of a couple of roommates is narrated, caused by social conditioning against the backdrop of a natural disaster in the valleys of the Himalayas. Sasidharan also produced the film thanks to the help of private citizens (crowd sourced) who financed the project. In 2015 Bombay velvet by Anurag Kashyap and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy were released! by Dibakar Banerjee, two independent directors test the Bollywood mainstream. Presented in the Un certain regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the film Chauthi koot (known as Fourth direction) in Punjabi, set in the atmosphere of suspicion and fear of the Punjab of the 1980s, confirms the exceptional talent of the young director Gurvinder Singh, to his second opera.

India Cinema