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English films were the earliest entrants into India. During the silent era, it was a common practice to have the main titles in English and Urdu. Several indigenous films were made in English versions with an eye on the foreign market. Thus, we had Dhiren Ganguli's Bherat Ferat as "England Returned"; Baburao Painter's Savkari Pash as "Indian Shylock"; Indulal Yagnik's Anarkali as "Monument of Tears" and Debaki Bose's Inquilab as "After the Earthquake", to name a few. Numerous short films were made in English during 1900-1909, like Thanwalla's Splendid New Views of Bombay; Hiralal Sen's Indian Life and Scenes; Elphinstone Co's Dancing of Indian Nautch Girls and Amir of Kabul's Procession; Phalke's Growth of a Planet and How Films are Made, etc. Himanshu Rai's Light of Asia (1931) was perhaps the earliest Indian feature film attempted in English. Ardashir Irani, the pioneer of the Indian talkie, attempted to make an English version of his film Noor Jehan in 1931 with Exra Mir as its director. This was followed by Rai's Karma (1933). J.B.Wadia's Court Dancer (1941) can be considered as the first wholly indigenous film made in English.  

In 1946, V.Shantaram made an English version of his film Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani as "The Journey of Dr.Kotnis". The first techni-colour film, Sohrab Modi's Jhansi Ki Rani (1951) was made in English as "Tiger and the Flame"; likewise, G.P.Sippy's Shahenshah (1953) was made in "English as Queen of Araby". In 1952, the Modern Theatres produced the first English movie in South India The Jungle, with Cesar Romero, Rod Cameron and Mary Windsor in the cast.

In 1964, Ismail Merchant joined hands with James Ivory to make the English-Hindi film Gharbaar ("The House-holder"), which was a laudable effort towards projecting Indian cinema abroad. The same team produced other notable films like Shakespearewallah (1965), The Guru, Savages, The Wild Party, Roseland, Quartet, Bostonians, Autobiography of a Princess (1975) and Heat and Dust (1982). Dev Anand's popular hit film Guide (1965) was made as a separate English version by Pearl Buck and Tad Danielewski. Shashi Kapoor's 36 Choringhee Lane (1981) won several National awards, besides the Golden Eagle at the First Manila International Film Festival in 1982. Shashi Kapoor produced another noteworthy film Utsav ("Festival of Love") in English. Victor Banerjee made his directorial debut with An August Requiem (1981). Richard Attenborough's Gandhi was an important English film on India's Freedom Struggle.
Some other noteworthy English films produced during the nineties include Miss Beatty's Children (Pamela Rooks), English August (Dev Benegal), Elizabeth (Shekhar Kapoor), East is East staring Om Puri; Deepa Mehta’s Fire (1996), Bombay Boys (1998); Nagesh Kukunoor’s Hyderabad Blues (1998) and Rockford (1999), Shyam Benegal’s The Making of Mahatma (1996), Bombay Boys (1998), Split Wide Open (1999). The film Elizabeth (1998) created a sensation by winning seven Oscar nominations and one Oscar award. Its sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) won two Oscar nominations and one Oscar award. Shekhar Kapoor’s other English films include: The Four Feathers (2002), New York, I Love You (2008) and Passage (2009). The Indian director-screen writer Manoj Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999), starring Bruce Willis, won three People's Choice awards in California and five Oscar nominations. His other English films include Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010) and Devil(2010), most of which did not do well at the box-office.

Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001); Everybody Says I am Fine (2001), Revathy’s Mitr, My Friend (2002), Mango Soufflé (2002), Leela (2002), Aparna Sen’s Mr and Mrs Iyer (2003), Stumble (2003), Freaky Chakra (2003), White Noise (2004), Hyderabad Blues 2 (2004), Bride and Prejudice (2004), Morning Raga (2005), Sins (2005), Being Cyrus (2006), Water (2005), Mixed Doubles (2006), Provoked (2007), Parzania (2007) and Via Darjeeling (2008) are some of the acclaimed English films produced in India.

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