It is indeed life affirming that our popular cinema is witnessing the kind of boom it has never experienced before – not only in terms of cash receipts..but in its growing stretch of influence, an audaciousness in the variety of themes handled and even that spirit of a Renaissance.
Now, didn’t someone wise and wonderful once state that a picture can say much more than a thousand words? And pictures – or visuals – allied to sound, story, performances, technique – all add up to truth 24 frames a second. And truth is heard from Kashmir to Cannes, Kanyakumari to Karlovy Vary.
Child of cinema
Of course, it’s no national secret that one is a child of cinema..and one is bound to view the life around him through eastmancolour-tinted glasses. Still, it is more than possible to stand back and be objective.
One has been privileged to experience, in close-up, the limitless reach and the incalculable impact of our cinema, not only at home but wherever I have travelled to and received my education..this surely stems from reality .
Doors have opened wider, smiles have been sunnier on people’s faces and communication has been effortless, simply because one belongs to the hometown of India’s glorious filmmaking industry.
<b1>And it’s not only a question of being a Bombay boy.. we make over 170 Hindi films yearly Telugu cinema .. makes more, Tamil cinema is prolific too..Kolkata is busy. With over 700 films annualy we have been the uncontested film-producing leader of the world for over three decades. Indian cinema..that’s what the unprejudiced call it.. Bollywood is employed merely by those accustomed to using short cuts.. a word which finally leads one nowhere in understanding the infinite value and aesthetic of our cinema.
Even the most stubborn naysayer cannot deny that our cinema has grown and evolved to such an extent – that is a leading export not only of our economy but of a culture that is distinctively ours.
To be popular.. to be relished by the majority of the moviegoing audience.. here or abroad.. is not a crime anymore.
Those who derided the use of music, the highly dramatic content of our film plots and even the element of the fantasticated as escapist cinema, are now re-evaluating their opinions. Books as well as scholastic studies are now reexamining how and in what form films have encapsulated the essence of the Indian reality.
We are being increasingly lionised at international film festivals..in return we salute the works of international cinema at our film festivals.
Indeed,for someone who’s still learning the alphabet of the interconnection between cinema and life, every day is a new lesson.
Yet even with one’s rawness, it can be seen that there are at least three constants which have made us reach where we have..on an equal footing with the rest of the world:
Constant No. 1
Our immense film heritage..Just take the purely humanistic cinema of Satyajit Ray which spoke in a foreceful language about our people, their anxieties and aspirations. Mr Ray transmitted our ethos in stark black and white and in colour..and was as much our jewel as he was that of international cinema. Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan are just but few of the masters of our cinema who have also spoken a universal language. They have been seen, heard and saluted.
As importantly, Raj Kapoor, V Shantaram, Mehboob Khan, Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy created a cinema that inculcated social awareness.while being using the Indian style of filmmaking..entertaining and purposeful simultaneously .
And there have been the grand cinema magicians .like Manmohan Desai whose rollicking Amar Akbar Anthony has been the most delightful and yet profound plea for secularism.
Incidentally, while Googling recently, one discovered that 50 years ago..in 1957 to be precise.. our cinema acquired its deepest golden radiance. It was the year which saw the release of Mehboob Khan’s
, Guru Dutt’s
, V Shantaram’s
Do Aankhen Baarah Haath
and B R Chopra’s
..that was some year wasn’t it. Just a little before their release Satyajit Ray’s
won the top prize at the Venice international film festival.
Surely, it’s the job of the critics to flashback and value such golden moments.And surely,the first constant would be incomplete without acknowledging the works of the internationally feted Shekhar Kapur, Deepa Mehta.. and Mira Nair whose The Namesake is at this very moment wowing not only the critics but the global box office.
Who can ever discount the abiding value of our artistes of charisma and strength? Raj Kapoor was and will always be a household name as much in Delhi as he is in Moscow.
Dilip Kumar saab’s artistry set standards which have remained unreachable anywhere. If anyone has not seen his masterful performances in a wide range of films right from Amar, Deedar and Shaheed to Devdas, Ram aur Shyam and Shakti, he hasn’t lived.
And if one happens to be in Cairo, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Berlin, Australia, New Zealand, guess what one is told?
"Welcome,welcome, we just love your…" One will leave that sentence incomplete..because dad is always embarrassed even when he is paid his just dues..
This is a new constant, but a very vital one that has come to stay And this constant is our cinema’s connect with Asians settled in every corner of the world.
From Southall and Hounslow in the UK, our films are now showcased at the high-end cinemas of Leicester Square..similarly in the US, we have moved from Queens to Manhattan.
We are there at the Oscar ceremonies, we are imitated even by Academy Award movies..you’ve seen Moulin Rouge..right?..our filmmakers, artistes, writers musicians, technicians are everywhere engaged in ceaseless conversation..beavering away towards creativity .
And that’s why, perhaps, there is that same eruption of goose flesh..when those three primeval words are announced, ”Lights! Action! Camera!”