The parallel or new cinema movement began in the regional cinema first,
towards the end of the sixties, with the production of Mrinal Sen's Bhuvan
Shome (1969) and Uski Roti, both financed by the FFC, signaling the
beginning of the new wave in Indian Cinema. The New Indian Cinema was the
cinema of social significance and artistic sincerity, presenting a modern,
humanist perspective in contrast to the fantasy world of the popular cinema.
This phenomenon was very important because it gave rise to a cinema
characterised by significant themes and innovative treatment - essentially a
cinema that sought truth, did not obey convention, and did not become
subservient to popular notions of what was good and palatable.
This phenomenon did not come about all of a sudden. There were many causative factors. The most important of them was the post-World War situation in world cinema, specifically Italian cinema, with the emergence of neo-realism started by people like Zavattini and Vittorio De Sica. Around the same time India also had a kind of popular cinema with social themes - again, particularly in Hindi - made by film-makers like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor. Another factor that encouraged truly good Indian cinema was the establishment of several institutions such as the National Film Awards, the Film Finance Corporations, the National Film Archives of India and the Film and Television Institute of India. One of the greatest impetus-giving events was the first International Film Festival of India, held in the mid-1950s.
Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen were the pioneers of the new cinema in India. Acclaimed as India's foremost director Satyajit Ray has made 30 feature films and five documentaries, tackling a wide range of rural, urban and historical themes. The Appu Trilogy --
Pather Panchali (1955), Apur Sansar and
Aparajito – along with Charulata, Jalsaghar, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Ashani Sanket, Agantuk and
Shatranj Ke Khiladi are some of his outstanding films. Ray's other works like
Mahanagar (1963), Seemabadha (1971), Pratidwandi (1970) and
Jana Aranya (1975) focussed on urban middle-class existence. In contrast to Ray, his contemporaries Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak set out to expose the dark underside of India's lower middle-class and the unemployed. Sen inspired his audience with his own trilogy
Interview (1971), Calcutta 71(1972) and Padatik (1973) and other films like
Akaler Sandhane (1980), Khandar (1983), Ek Din Pratidin, Chorus and
Mrigaya. Ritwik Ghatak swooped on the Indian scene with new dynamism with his noteworthy films like
Nagarik (1952), Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), Aajantrik (1958),
Subarnarekha (1952, released 1965) and Komal Ghandhar.
In Bombay, a new group of film-makers began to contribute towards the growth of parallel cinema in Hindi. Notable amongst them are B.R.Ishara (Chetana), Basu Chatterji (Sara Akash), Rajinder Singh Bedi (Dastak), Mani Kaul (Uski Roti, Duvidha), Kumar Shahani (Maya Darpan), Avtar Kaul (27
Down), Basu Bhattacharya (Anubhav), M.S. Sathyu (Garam Hawa), Shyam Benegal (Ankur-1974), Govind Nihalani (Akrosh, Ardh Satya) and Kanthilal Rathod (Kanku). The Hindi new wave seems to have reached its bloom period towards the end of the seventies with the coming of film makers like Govind Nihalani (Aakrosh), Saeed Mirza (Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai, Aravind Desai ki Ajeeb Daastan), Rabindra Dharmaraj (Chakra), Sai Paranjpe (Sparsh), Muzafar Ali (Gaman) and Biplab Roy Chowdhari (Shodh).
The new cinema movement continued to flourish and grow stronger during the eighties. Shyam Benegal presented some good movies like
Manthan, Bhumika, Nishant and Trikal. Nihlani's Aaghat and
Tamas were remarkable works. Other important films with new style of treatment include Prakash Jha's
Damul, Aparna Sen's 36-Chowringhee Lane, Ramesh Sharma's New Delhi Times, Ketan Mehta's
Mirch Masala, Vijaya Mehta's Rao Saheb, Utpalendu Chakraborthy's
Debshishu, Pradeep Kishna's Massey Saheb, Nabayendu Ghosh's Trishagni, Gulzar's
Ijaazat, Muzafar Ali's Umrao Jaan, Gautam Ghose's Dakhal and
Paar, Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Dooratwa, Neem Annapurana and Andhi Gali, Tapan Sinha's
Aajka Robin Hood, Kundan Shah's Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Girish Kasara Valli's
Tabarana Kathe and Bannada Vesha, Shanker Naag's Accident and
Swamy, B. Narasinga Rao's Daas, Prema Karanth's Phaniyamma and Shaji N.Karun's
Piravi (1988). Meera Nair, the young woman director, won the Golden Camera award at Cannes for her first film
Salaam Bombay in 1989.
The Hindi cinema witnessed the production of good films in the parallel stream throughout the nineties.
Drishti and Drohkal (Nihalani), Lekin (Gulzar), Disha (Sai Paranjpe),
Prahar (Nana Patekar), Parinda (Vinod Chopra), Diskha (Arun Kaul),
Kasba (Kumar Shahani), Maya Memsaab (Ketan Mehta), Mujhse Dosti Karoge (Gopi Desai),
Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda and Mammo (Shyam Benegal), Woh Chokri (Subhankar Ghosh),
Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Tapan Sinha), Kalpana Lajmi's Rudaali (1993) and
Darmiyaan (1997), Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen (1994), Ramgopal Varma’s
Satya (1998), Mahesh Bhatt’s Zakhm (1998), Vinay Shukla’s Godmother (1998) and Deepa Mehta's
Fire (1999) and Earth 1947 (1999) were some of the notable Hindi films made during the decade. The new millennium started with the controversy generated by the filming of Deepa Mehta’s last of the
trilogy Water, which is based the life of Hindu widows in the 1930s.
In the South, cinema of the parallel genre emerged in Karnataka and Kerala. The cinema of the South came to the national attention with the winning the President's gold medal in 1965 by Ramu Kariat's melodious tragedy
Chemmeen (1965). Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Swayamvaram (1972) and others all gained similar recognition in the years to come. The Karanth (BV) - Karnad (Girish) combine have produced two milestone Kannada films
Vamsa Vriksha and Samskara, criticizing the caste system. The Tamil films
Vedam Pudithu directed by P. Bharatiraja and Ore Oru Gramathile by K. Jyothi Pandyan also tackled the same subject.
Olavum Theeravum launched a second new wave in Malayalam. Pattabhi Rama Reddy's
Samskara (1970) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Swayamvaram (1972) were the trend setters in Kannada and Malayalam respectively. This continued with a series of socially conspicuous films like M.T. Vasidevan Nair's
Nirmalyam, B.V.Karanth's Chomana Dudi, Girish Karnad's Kaadu, Girish Kasara Valli's
Ghatasradha, G. Aravindan's Uttarayanam and Thamp, K. Balachander's
Arangetram, Avargal and Apoorva Ragangal, Adoor's Kodyettam, K.G. George's
Swapnadanam and P.A. Backer's Chuvanna Vithukal and G.V.Iyer's Hamsageethe. The eighties saw the continuance of new cinema wave with films like
Elippathayam, Mukha Mukham, Anantharam, Esthappan, Pokkuveyil, Chidambaram and
The movement spread to the other regional cinemas such as Marathi, Gujarathi,
Assamese, Oriya and Telugu. The new cinema movement started in Marathi with
Shanta! Court Chalu Aahe (1971). Directors like Jabbar Patel (Samna, Simhasan),
Ramdas Phuttane (Sarvasakshi), Ketan Mehta (Bhavni Bhavai). Babendranath Saikia
(Sandhya Rag), Jahanu Barua (Aparoopa, Papori), Manmohan Mohapatra (Klanta
Aparanha, Majhi Pahacha), Nirad Mohapatra (Maya Miriga) and Gautam Ghose (Ma
Bhoomi) came to the scene with their note-worthy films. The New cinema from
Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Manipur also gave films like Tahader Katha, Bagh
Bahadur, Charachar (Buddhadeb Dasgupta), Uttoran (Sandip Ray), Wheel Chair (Tapan
Sinha), Unishe April (Rituparno Ghosh), Adi Mimansa, Lalvanya Preethi (A.K. Bir),
Nirbachana (Biplab Roy Chowdhari), Halodhia Choraya Baodhan Khai, Firingoti (Jahau
Barua), Haladhar (Sanjeev Hazarika), and Ishanou (Aribam Shayam Sharma). The
notable Malayalam films of this period include Vasthuhara (Aravindan), Vidheyan
(Adoor) Kireedom, Bharatham (Siby Malayil), Amaram (Bharathan) Innale (Padmarajan),
Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, Sargam, Parinayam (Hariharan), Devasuram (I.V.Sasi).
Kilukkam, Thenmavin Kombath (Priyadarsan), Perumthachan (Ajayan),
Vikurthikal (Lenin Rajendran), Manichithrathazu (Fazil), Ponthanmada (T.V.
Chandran) and Swaham (Shaji). From Tamil and Telugu cinema, films like Anjali,
Roja and Bombay (Mani Ratnam), Marupakkam and Nammavar (Sethsumadhavan),
Karuthamma (Bharathi Raja), Surigadu (Dasari Narayana Rao), Swathi Kiranam (K.Viswanath)
and Mogha Mul (G.Rajasekharan) are worth making a note.