Indian Cinema: Time to look beyond love


Ever since the first cinema Raja Harichandra (1913) began the Indian account in the world of cinema, the art of cinema in India has been constantly reinventing itself and changing its face from time to time and ever evolving. True to its identity as the sub continent, akin to its linguistic plurality films are made in many major languages across India. Though the Hindi film industry is always identified (or promoted) as the face of Indian cinema, the actuality is far from it. How could a cinema confined to a region represent the multiple cultures across the nation that is often identified as the land of diversities?

Soon after the Lumiere Brothers screened moving images, the early cinema, they not have just visited India (around 1897) but screened their movies as well (in Bombay). Though the art of cinema took shape and spent its infancy in Europe it became also as a successful business only after it got exported to America. Hollywood the address of the entire American (commercial) cinema soon took the world with its grip and it only gains momentum from day to day.

The image of the Indian cinema as perceived by the west deserves contemplation. Although we might just suspend this idea pointing out the western supremacy mindset, it’s indeed necessary to look into it a bit seep, to know what we miss in Indian cinema. In the contemporary era while a small industry like the South Korean Industry known popularly as Korean cinema has gained much attention of the west while we, the country that churns out the a thousand movies a year on average, couldn’t manage to get.

Film historians, though differing in their idea of film theories and linguistic biases, almost unanimously notify the golden era of Indian cinema as the 1950-60s. Nonetheless in comparison with the ‘French New wave’ -considered as the golden era of the European cinema- that widely differ in its ideology and aims from this Indian version.

Perhaps this is the first time ever the west turned its head toward India, much of it credited to the achievements of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ (1955). This art house Bengali cinema created with visual aesthetics of the European style, won the western audience in the film circuit at least as it was perhaps the first movie that was comprehensible by them. Also it is identified as one of the important precursors initiating the ‘Social cinema’ trend in Indian cinema, which was inclined heavily on mythology and Epics.

Though the changing faces of Indian Cinema deserves a few separate articles let us take up one issue for discussion now.


Guru Dutt


Irrespective of the language, genre, style of filmmaking if ever you probe into identifying one constant in Indian cinema, would it be anything else than love? Agreed; love is an incomparable emotive feel, an eternal beauty that embarks human mind now and forever magnificently. But there is also life beyond love. As love takes almost the entire screen space others find very little space on the Indian screen. This leaves the filmmakers to explore only a few flavours of human life while a majority of others left untouched.

The portrayal of various stages of human life can never be encountered through Indian cinema. A cinema industry that devotes its artistic excellence entirely to explore one aspect ‘love’ which naturally connects itself with youth, across cultures. So one get to see only the first half of the human life cycle and the remaining half remained unveiled.

This same argument can very well be extrapolated to films of any foreign language but will never be comparable to the Indian context. It’s an irony that the land that produces most number of films stands far from representing the existing realities of life, but only takes the viewer to a transient and illusory universe. Films that don’t mirror realities can never stand the test of time and get washed away as years pass by.

The Indian talents are as promising as their counterparts from any other country. But they feel insecure to step beyond the stereotypic circle. Even if fresh attempts are made they too are not ready to over look the Indian Cinematic constant- love.

Variety is not just the spice of life but also for art as well, since art reflects life than anything else.

P.S: The image used in this article, shows only films of Guru Datt. But my original intention of using it here is to stress the omnipresence of the love factor in Indian cinema.



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  • Ravish Mani

    Very interesting and indeed informative.