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 Mani Kaul’s ‘Uski Roti’. 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 new trend was very significant since it broke all shibboleths of the conventional Hindi cinema and tackled diverse themes in an innovative manner. It essentially tried to portray the truth, often its ugly side, unmindful of popular notions of what was good and palatable. This phenomenon did not emerge suddenly, but was a result of many causative factors. The most significant being the post-World War changes in the 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 filmmakers like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor. The setting up of institutions like the Film Finance Corporations, the National Film Archives of India and the Film and Television Institute of India and the institution of the National Film Awards scheme contributed significantly in the encouragement of the New Cinema movement in India. The organisation of the first International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in 1952 provided great impetus to this genre of films leading to their greater exposure to the global cinema.

 

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 over thirty 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’, ‘Agantuk’ and ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ are some of his outstanding films. 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 ‘Khandar’ (1983), ‘Ek Din Pratidin’ and ‘Mrigaya’. Ritwik Ghatak emerged on the Indian scene with new dynamism with his noteworthy films like ‘Nagarik’ (1952), ‘Aajantrik’ (1958), ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ (1960) and ‘Komal Ghandhar’.

In Mumbai, a new group of filmmakers began to contribute towards the growth of parallel cinema in Hindi. Notable among them were B.R.Ishara (‘Chetana’), Basu Chatterji (‘Sara Akash’), Rajinder Singh Bedi (‘Dastak’), Mani Kaul (‘Uski Roti’), Kumar Shahani (‘Maya Darpan’), Avtar Kaul (‘27-Down’), Basu Bhattacharya (‘Anubhav’), M.S. Sathyu (‘Garam Hawa’), Shyam Benegal (‘Ankur-1974’) and Govind Nihalani (‘Akrosh’, ‘Ardh Satya’). The Hindi new wave seems to have reached its peak towards the end of the seventies with more film makers like Saeed Mirza (‘Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai’), Rabindra Dharmaraj (‘Chakra’), Sai Paranjpe (‘Sparsh’), Muzafar Ali (‘Gaman’) and Biplab Roy Chowdhari (‘Shodh’) joining the group.

The new cinema movement continued to flourish and grow stronger during the eighties. Shyam Benegal’s ‘Manthan’, ‘Bhumika’ and ‘Nishant’; Govind Nihlani’s ‘Tamas’ and ‘Aaghat’; 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’, 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’, Shanker Naag’s ‘Accident’ and ‘Swamy’, B. Narasinga Rao’s ‘Daas’, Prema Karanth’s ‘Phaniyamma’ and Shaji N.Karun’s ‘Piravi’ (1988) were some notable examples of new cinema of the eighties. The notable director Meera Nair 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. Govind Nihalani’s ‘Drishti’ and ‘Drohkal’; Gulzar’s ‘Lekin’; Arun Kaul’s ‘Diskha’; Kumar Sahani’s ‘Kasba’; Sai Paranjpe’s ‘Disha’; Shyam Benegal’s ‘Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda’; Ketan Mehta’s ‘Maya Memsaab’; Subhankar Ghosh’s ‘Woh Chokri’; Tapan Sinha’s ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’; Kalpana Lajmi’s ‘Rudaali’(1993), 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. The other notable films in this genre produced during the last decade include ‘Split Wide Open’, ‘Lagaan’, ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Joggers’ Park’, ‘Rain Coat’, ‘Kabul Express’, ‘Gandhi My Father’, ‘Traffic Signal’, ‘Yatra’, ‘Life in a Metro’, ‘The Last Lear’, ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’, ‘Black’, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Paa’.

The cinema of the South came to be noticed at the national level with the winning of the President’s gold medal in 1965 by Ramu Kariat’s ‘Chemmeen’. Pattabhi Rama Reddy’s ‘Samskara’ (1970), Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s ‘Swayamvaram’ (1972) and B.V. Karanth and Girish Karnad’s Kannada films ‘Vamsa Vriksha’ and ‘Samskara’ also gained similar recognition. The Tamil films P. Bharatiraja’s ‘Vedam Pudithu’ and K. Jyothi Pandyan’s ‘Ore Oru Gramathile’ tackled the subject of caste system. This was followed by a series of socially conscious films like M.T. Vasidevan Nair’s ‘Nirmalyam’, Girish Karnad’s ‘Kaadu’, B.V.Karanth’s ‘Chomana Dudi’, Girish Kasara Valli’s ‘Ghatasradha’, K. Balachander’s ‘Arangetram’, ‘Avargal’ and ‘Apoorva Ragangal’, G. Aravindan’s ‘Uttarayanam’ and ‘Thamp’, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s ‘Kodiyettam’, P.A. Backer’s ‘Chuvanna Vithukal’, K.G. George’s ‘Swapnadanam’ and G.V.Iyer’s ‘Hamsageethe’.

The eighties saw the continuance of the New Cinema wave with films like ‘Elippathayam’, ‘Mukha Mukham’, ‘Anantharam’, ‘Esthappan’, ‘Pokkuveyil’, ‘Chidambaram’ and ‘Oridath’ being made in Malayalam. The new cinema movement soon spread to the other regional cinemas such as Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Assamese and Telugu. It started in Marathi in 1971 with the film ‘Shanta! Court Chalu Aahe’. Directors like Jabbar Patel (‘Samna’, ‘Simhasan’), Ketan Mehta (‘Bhavni Bhavai’), Ramdas Phuttane (‘Sarvasakshi’), Jahanu Barua (‘Aparoopa’, ‘Papori’), Babendranath Saikia (‘Sandhya Rag’), Manmohan Mohapatra (‘Klanta Aparanha’), 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 ‘Charachar’ (Buddhadeb Dasgupta), ‘Uttoran’ (Sandip Ray), ‘Wheel Chair’ (Tapan Sinha), ‘Unishe April’ (Rituparno Ghosh), ‘Nirbachana’ (Biplab Roy Chowdhari), ‘Adi Mimansa’ (A.K. Bir), ‘Haladhar’ (Sanjeev Hazarika), ‘Halodhia Choraya Baodhan Khai’ (Jahau Barua) and ‘Ishanou’ (Aribam Shayam Sharma). From Tamil and Telugu cinema, films like ‘Roja’ (Mani Ratnam), ‘Marupakkam’ (Sethsumadhavan), ‘Karuthamma’ (Bharathi Raja), ‘Surigadu’ (Dasari Narayana Rao), ‘Swathi Kiranam’ (K.Viswanath) and ‘Mogha Mul’ (G.Rajasekharan) are worth taking a note.

 

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