According to an estimate, approximately fourteen million Indians visit cinemas daily to watch films. In 2012 alone, Bollywood sold around 2.6 billion tickets as opposed to Hollywood’s 1.36 billion tickets. This article attempts to look into how Indian Cinema came into being and has evolved over the decades to become what we binge-watch on our screens every day now. 

Cinema as an art and aesthetic has always been integral to Indian culture. More than that, some would even go on to call it a predilection which connects us Indians, in a rather transcendental manner. Most of us feel connected anywhere and everywhere because of these shared memories – then be it the uncountable times when Raj swept us off our feet or Amir’s Pehla Nasha, we all mutually yet exclusively share the sentiment. From artists to celebrities, big screens to web series, the stereotyped hero to the now not-so-conventional protagonists – Hindi cinema has infused distinct colors in all of our lives. 


  • Let’s turn through the pages a little bit to set the tone for this inexplicable journey that we are going to look into, shall we?
    The history of Indian Cinema goes back to the nineteenth century. In 1896, the very first films shot by the Lumiere Brothers were shown in Mumbai (then Bombay). It was not much later that Dada Saheb Phalke, a scholar of Indian languages and culture ventured India’s foremost full-length silent Marathi film, ‘Raja Harishchandra’ in 1913, and thereby laid the foundation of a regular feature film industry in India. India’s first talkie, ‘Alam Ara’, directed and released by Ardeshir Irani in 1931 was an instant hit and paved way for future successes.


Satyajit Ray’s classic film ‘Pather Panchali’ released in 1953 proved to be a major breakthrough for the Indian film industry in the global scene that won the reputed Cannes award in the best film category and led to several international and domestic honors and awards. Several films from that era, for e.g. Bimal Roy’s ‘Do Bigha Zamin’, Mehboob Khan’s ‘Mother India'(1957), Raj Kapoor’s ‘Shree 420’ (1955) and ‘Awaraa'(1951), Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyasa'(1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), set new records at the box office. These films highlighted social themes mainly dealing with the working class. Ever since the social realist film Neecha Nagar won the Grand Prize at the first Cannes Film Festival, Hindi films were frequently in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film festival throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, with some of them winning major prizes at the festival. 

The Golden Age

The late 1940s to early 1960s are what the film historians refer to as the Golden Age of Hindi Cinema. Parallel Cinema, an alternative to the mainstream Indian cinema, originated in Bengal in the 1950s. It is known for its serious content realism and naturalism. The social films of V. Shantaram, more than anything else, paved the way for an entire set of directors who took it upon themselves to interrogate not only the institutions of marriage, dowry, and widowhood, but the grave inequities created by caste and class distinctions. Some of the social problems received their most unequivocal interpretation and expression in Achhut Kanya (“Untouchable Girl”, 1936), a film directed by Himanshu Rai of Bombay Talkies. Bimal Roy’s ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ (1953), which shows the influence of Italian neo-realism, explored the hard life of the rural peasantry under the harshest conditions. 


In the meantime, the Hindi cinema had seen the rise of its first acknowledged genius, Guru Dutt, whose films critiqued the conventions of society and deplored the conditions which induce artists to relinquish their inspiration. From Barua’s Devdas (1935) to Guru Dutt’s ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam’ (1962), the motif of “predestined love” remained in the epicentre with a mawkish sentiment characterising even the best of the Hindi cinema before the arrival of the new or alternative Indian cinema in the 1970s. 

The Masala Movies and Trendsetters

By mid-seventies, love stories gave way to the violent action themes about gangsters. Hindi Cinema,  more or less came to be characterised by conventional and stereotypical storylines, item numbers, and verbose drama. Amitabh Bachchan is the iconic star known for his angry young man roles. He dominated the silver screen with other male leads like Mithun Chakraborty and Anil Kapoor and female actresses including Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha for several years. The 1970s, thus marked the upsurge of commercial movies with trendsetter films such as Sholay (1975). Some would even go on to call the seventies, the era of the advent of ‘masala movies’ in Bollywood. The prominent actor and director, Manmohan Desai became the father of such Masala movies – 

“I want people to forget their misery. I want to take them into a dream world where there is no poverty, where there are no beggars, where fate is kind and god is busy looking after its flock.”

In the late eighties and early nineties, once again the trend changed in Indian cinema and there was a marked shift from gangster movies to romantic musicals. Family-oriented films such as Mr India (1987), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). A new breed of stars emerged from these films including Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla and Kajol. It was also the age of action and comedy cinema and film stars such as Govinda and Akshay Kumar and actresses like Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor often cast for the particular genre of the films. 


Return to Political Sensibility 

The nineties was known for the launch of unique artists and independent filmmakers who also acquired commercial success with critical acclaim. Satya (1998), directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap was the best example of it which marked the beginning of a distinctive films category recognized as Mumbai noir, metropolitan flicks projecting societal issues in Mumbai city. 

Ghatak went on to serve as Director of the Film and Television School at Pune, from where the first generation of a new breed of Indian film-makers and actors – Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, and Om Puri among the latter was to emerge. These film-makers, such as Shyam Benegal, Ketan Mehta, Govind Nihalani, and Saeed Mirza, exhibited a different aesthetic and political sensibility and were inclined to explore the caste and class contradictions of Indian society, the nature of oppression suffered by women, the dislocations created by industrialism and the migration from rural to urban areas, the problem of landlessness, the impotency of ordinary democratic and constitutional procedures of redress, and so on.

 The 2000s: Our-Generation-Cinema

The decade of 2000s saw significant changes in terms of the cinematography, storylines, artists, and even the themes explored. Hindi Cinema witnessed a gradual digression back to the themes of exploring the day-to-day lives and challenges of the common man, so much so that the masculinist macho Raj Kapoor of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi became Balram, the drop-out from The White Tiger. The focus, then, became not turning it into the dreamy blockbuster but an artwork that can resonate with the working middle-class. The leading production houses in India including Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions experimented with innovative contemporary films such as Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Chak De India (2007), and My Name is Khan (2010). Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which has won four Golden Globes and eight Academy Awards, was also directly inspired by Bollywood films and is considered to be a homage to Hindi commercial cinema.



With the Hindi Cinema resonating with not only the people within Indian borders but also beyond, the picture has drastically shifted in contemporary times. Newer broadcast mediums such as Alt Balaji, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, Indian Cinema has something in store for each and every one of us – every genre, every sentiment. The advent of new pop culture terminologies such as “binge-watch” and “Netflix and chill” has made possible for both the filmmakers and the audience to explore and experiment with unconventional belief systems and artforms, paving way for new normatives. For instance, the recent Netflix buzzes The White Tiger and Sir explore an unconventional protagonist, alternative storylines and breaking out of the stereotypical taboo systems. 

Perhaps, instead of calling it a new normative, it can also be looked at as returning to our roots instead. From Lagaan (2001) and Rang De Basanti (2006) to Tamasha (2015) and Thappad (2019) – all break free of the conventional set norm to venture into what really needs to be talked about, something that not only resonates with the common man but also leaves space for discursive ideas and advancement. Pink (2016), Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016), Badhaai Ho (2018), Mardaani 2 (2019) and the list goes on. 

From giving us romance goals like Raj Kapoor in the 40s to portraying six-pack abs as a must-have for the primary male protagonist like John Abrahams and Salman Khan to eventually venture back into the idea of exploring with unconventional storylines only to break out of the norm and create relatable binge-worthy content – Indian Cinema has come a long way. Now our lead can be just as lost as we are, trying to make sense of what life is like our Ved of ‘Tamasha’ or as ambitious as Balram of The White Tiger whose only intention is to rise up the social ladder and make a name for himself (pretty much all that we are trying to do here)! Even women characters have gradually stepped out of the confines of their kitchens and homes to venture into more humane powerful personas like Priya of Kya Kehna (2000) who is resilient at the face of “log kya kahenge”, Shashi of English Vinglish (2012) who steps out of her confines to regain her identity, Rani of Queen (2014) with roaring hopes and aspirations, Pink (2016) telling the nation that when a woman says ‘no’, it means ‘no’,  and Amrita of ‘Thappad’ (2020) who steps out of her seemingly perfect life to ask uncomfortable questions. 

Therefore, a considerable amount of credence for infusing Hindi Cinema with an altogether new life, sentiment and diaspora goes to the OTT and one can only wonder what else does this enormous abode of talent, art, and impressions has in store for us. 

Image Credits – CitySpidey.com

Annanya Chaturvedi

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Here is my review of Tu (you), a short film by Royals Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films starring Sayani Gupta and Arjun Radhakrishnan.

Tu, a short film directed by Rahul Nangia, is a meticulously crafted tale of two ill-fated lovers told in under eight minutes. In its run time, it successfully establishes the relationship and its conflict. The tonality and lighting are dark, their space seems claustrophobic, the blatant intimacy between the two leading characters in the opening shot itself makes you uncomfortable, and ever since the beginning, the audience understands that their relationship is doomed.

The film runs on a single string conversation between the two lovers where the writers have brilliantly woven their love story which unfolds in front of your eyes. Over the course of this conversation, you realise that her name is Supriya, while he is a Murtaza; that their inconspicuous meetings are going on for a long time now; that she is the one who is rebellious (because she arranges the rooms for their meetings); that he is utterly scared of his father and works at his shop; that she is engaged to another person; that he is still economically dependent on his father (his phone is taken away because the bill was INR 3,000) and even though all this is an age-old, monotonous, repetitive conflict you still become completely invested in their story.

Visually, the short film aims at making you aware of the couple’s comfortable relationship. Throughout the film, we only see the two characters totally invested into each other, giving us a closer look at their bond which further fuels our pity for them. In the midst of this, using the narrative of them watching their old video at Mumbai’s Lover’s Point, out in the open, under the blue sky, near the uncontrollable waves of the sea and away from their present situation works wonders for the film. It symbolises the naivety of love, which transforms into a complex cacophony when it transcends the societal demands and rules.

The ending is ambiguous, but anyone can complete the story without any faults because it is a story which has been told a million times, one which we all have heard, read or watched. The last sequence leading up to the end shows the two characters panic-stricken, running around in their limited space, the rebellious girl finding an escape while the scared boy all set to face the reality, with their wobbly voices running in the background. You can hear the tears in their voices and the rawness of their fear. Herein, again, the screen miraculously cuts back to that happy video, making our heart sore for the hopeless lovers. The video has a cinematic zoom-in and out between timelines.

In its short run time, Tu is successful at making you feel things for the poor couple, a feat that many-a-times even 3-hour long Bollywood Romances are unable to achieve. Watch it for its simplicity in storytelling, sincere and honest filmmaking and utterly graceful performances by the lead characters.


Image Credits: Film Companion



Sakshi Arora

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Roma, the most honored film of the year, is turning heads and changing the public discourse around representation. The film puts into center, the unsung heroes of the functional upper and middle class families across the world, the domestic workers. It will break your heart and move you, so watch it to realise your privilege.

Have you watched Roma? You should, if you haven’t. Alfonso Cuarón’s intimate family drama set in 1970’s Mexico is a wonderful masterpiece and an absolute cinematic spectacle. It is a visual representation of a personal diary, a diary of Cleo, a young woman of Mixtec Mesoamerican heritage who works as a live-in maid for a white upper-middle-class family in Mexico City. Prepare to be emotionally moved and wrung out and re-think the way you look at people whom you don’t give a second thought to.
The film is shot in black-and- white with extraordinary clarity and detail, with its majesty and grandeur being communicated through the soft gaze and gentle spirit and vulnerability of Cleo. It takes place inside the house where a gated, open-roofed passage filled with bicycles, plants, caged birds and an under loved, but chirpy and enthusiastic dog named Borras is shown, time and again. Cleo and her friend Adela, the family cook, live at the end of the corridor in a tiny, cramped room, upstairs. In the morning, Cleo wakes the children; at night, she puts them to bed.
From each dawn and until long after dusk, she takes cares of the family who seems unable to function without her help. She serves meals, cleans and carries laundry to the roof, where she washes the clothes in view of other maids on other roofs with their own heavy loads. We see her as she works and also in ways that we don’t commonly see domestic workers, as she makes a date with her first love, exercises by candlelight at night, gossips with her friend, and experiences the most profound forms of loss imaginable.
In Roma, does Cleo’s daily trek to her modest rooftop room, away from the family’s home and her candlelit exercise sessions, the lights-out rule imposed by the family matriarch make you think? Of course, it does. You have seen it happen in your own home. Domestic work has been and continues to be associated with women’s work, and by extension devalued. Domestic workers, can in no way cause inconvenience to the family members. After all, she’s just a maid, right? She’s never fully human for you, maybe a person whom you see every day and take notice and get tensed on the day she decides to take a holiday. Sounds familiar?
How can we forget the emotional labor that’s expected out of Cleo, every time? She’s obligated to express emotions the way her employer wants her to, whether it be politeness, cheerfulness, and in the case of children, love and affection. Well, with Cleo her kindness for the kids is genuine; it comes across as heartfelt, and is returned. “We love you very much,” they tell her. But it’s back to business just a few scenes later, when they ask her to fetch snacks while they watch TV. Her responsibility to provide care places her within the family, and yet her role as an employee places her outside of it. Her relationship with her employer is both intimate and distant, and she is both vulnerable and powerful. Roma forces the audience to look at the world defined by a hierarchy of power and privilege, to look at the “Cleos” of our own world.
Can we ignore the fact that physical abuse and sexual harassment are common, and most full-time workers don’t receive benefits or savings toward a pension? There are no fixed working hours; domestic workers are always on call. There are no minimum wages and no right to safe working places. The entire sector is defined by poverty-level wages, high rates of abuse and few mechanisms for recourse.
This film might force you to look at the harsh realities of domestic workers across the world. Maybe, take a look or two in your own home. Have you ever looked at the woman who comes to your house to do your work or stays at your house to do your chores, all day long? No, you never because honestly, why would you care?
You have a lot on your own plate, and you believe she’s happy too. She seems like it. Take a minute to look at the nannies we entrust with small children, the house cleaners who bring sanity to our homes, and the caregivers who care for our disabled and elderly loved ones. It’s the work that our economy doesn’t recognize, because the people who do it live in the margins and the work arrangements are often informal.
And yet, it is some of the most critical work in our society — caring for what is most precious to us, our loved ones and our homes — and to our economy, allowing millions of people to work outside the home while the domestic workforce takes care of what needs to be done inside the home.

Featured Image Credits- Vulture

Disha Saxena
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“Kaam karne ke teen tareeke hote hain – seedha, tedha, ulta. Jab aap seedha kaam karna nahi chahte aur tedha aap karke dekh chuke hain, to bachta hai ek – ulta.” Written and directed by Shobhit Bhatia and Arbab Ahmad, Rareview follows the story of three people trying to fix the rear-view mirror of a friend’s car. Arjun, Sood, and Kunal want to make an entrance to a party. However, they cannot do so in the two-wheeler that they own. Therefore, they decide to borrow a car from their friend’s father. Needless to say, the loan comes with a warning – they have to return the car without a scratch. Murphy’s Law states that, ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong’. These three friends find themselves in a similar fix when they meet with a small accident and lose the rear-view mirror of the car. In dire need of assistance, they employ Ranjit, an automobile fixer’s help. Upon discovering that Ranjit himself cannot help them, the four of them then decide to steal it from someone else’s car. In a predictable ending, they manage to return the car unscratched only to find that they were not the ones responsible for losing the rear-view mirror in the first place. Navdeep Maggu as Sood manages to get a few laughs with his hilarious portrayal of a friend who says the wrong things at exactly the wrong time. Dewang Mulani as Kunal and Kshitij Mervin as Arjun make their presence felt on the screen. However, the real show stealer is Shivam Pradhan, portraying the character of Ranjit. He leaves the audience gasping with laughter with his to-the-point acting and witty retorts. Shobhit Bhatia and Arbab Ahmad, alumni of Shunya, the theatre society of Ramjas College, do a surprisingly good job in their first production. The initial few scenes are not fully refined and the transitions between the scenes seem abrupt, but the film quickly picks up the pace. The director’s vision to contrast the scenes of simply whiling away time with the intense scenes of the three friends who have met with an accident fail to come across exactly as they are meant to, perhaps due to amateur editing. The direction could undoubtedly be better but considering the tools and the low cost of production, the audience cannot help but appreciate the film. Without a shadow of doubt, the directors in their first venture as amateur filmmakers leave a mark behind. The one thing I found myself appreciating during this thirty-minute film is its background score which throughout provided the intensity that the scene requires. The fact that Shobhit Bhatia and Arbab Ahmad have tried to get the technical aspects of film-making right is evident while watching the film. It is extremely difficult to get a thirty-minute film made at this level and without any resources. However, one does not realise these hardships because the end result is beautiful. For anyone wishing to spend half an hour laughing with their friends, this short film is a must watch! Check out the trailer to the film here. Feature Image Credits: Anukriti Mishra Anukriti Mishra [email protected]]]>

After the huge success of Dangal, both popularly loved and critically acclaimed – it is time to know the creative minds behind this heart-warming project. We present the life and career of Nitesh Tiwari, the talented director of Dangal and Chillar Party.

Interestingly, Tiwari was a software engineer before turning to the world of advertising and his newest venture; film-making has definitely taken Indian cinema by storm. In another lifetime, he was a creative director in ad agency Leo Burnett, and was highly respected as a writer.

Right from his time at IIT Bombay, Tiwari had been active on the drama front which ensured he loved every moment of his 16 year old career as a creative professional. Heralded as the “lucky” one, Tiwari first sampled the world of advertising whilst working on a project for R K Swamy BBDO when he was pursuing B Tech at IIT Bombay. The project ended, but his journey had just begun. “What I saw in the ad agency, I really loved. The atmosphere was informal, people were playing pranks. They were having a blast and were paid for it,” he says.

As a trained Hindi writer, Tiwari began with four creative directors at the agency. Being trained by four specialists in different styles, he quickly got his first brief to write a television commercial for Captain Cook Atta.

Over years, he has worked with a range of clients- Tide, Heinz Foods, Sony Entertainment Television, Reliance Mobile, McDonald’s, Perfetti Van Melle, Bajaj Electricals, Axe Deodorants, Castrol, Amul, CeatTyres, as the man who probably created their trademark and user pool in India. Today, he has successfully directed three films- Chillar Party, Bhoothnath Returns and his recent project ,Dangal bagged the filmfare.

We can’t wait to see what other tricks this director has up his sleeves!

Feature Image Credits: fatimasanashaikh/instagram.com

Anahita Sahu

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‘EFFULGENCE’- The Film and Photography Society of Sri Venkateswara College organized a Photography Workshop on Thursday 1st October. Renowned photographer and senior faculty member of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Professor, Mr. Ashwani Juneja conducted the workshop.

All aspiring Photographers, beginners and photography societies of colleges were invited in the workshop.

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In a session of two hours, Prof. Ashwani in his presentation discussed topics such as what is photography? Principle of photography, depth of field, light controlling device and exposure triangle among others.
More than 50 photography enthusiasts attended this workshop. An interaction session was followed by the presentation where the students asked their queries and doubts.

A photo walk has been scheduled for next week where the students can practically apply the tips and information acquired during the workshop.

Inputs from Shaira Chaudhry

Image Credits- Abhishek  Saini

Shefali Bharati
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