India has the
unique distinction of producing the largest number of films anywhere in the
world and in many languages. India produces more than 1000 feature films and 900
short films every year. At a rough estimate, a total of about 15 million people
see films in India everyday, either in its over 13,000 cinema houses, or on
video and cable. It is estimated that an audience as large as India's entire population flocks to its cinema houses every two months.
Films have played a major role in developing a post-Independence Indian identity.
They have served as a very useful and emphatic medium to portray social, economic and political realities of the Indian society at different times. Films had a pervasive influence on the psyche of a common Indian, who often identified himself with the central character of the film, be it a hero or the heroine. For most Indians, cinema is integral to their lives; it is not a distant, 2-3 hour distraction, but a vicarious lifestyle for them. The large screen provides an alternative, an escape from the realities of day-to-day life. The cinema has largely been an urban phenomenon in India, except in some states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where they are equally popular in rural areas right from the beginning.