Version 5 (modified by UshaR, 11 years ago) (diff)



Like the reformist social, the historical genre derived from late 19th C. novel and theatre writing. Used mainly to glorify epochs of regional (usually military) power, it incorporated ‘ Tipu Sultan in Kannada, Shivaji in Marathi, Pratapaditya or Siraj-ud-Dowla in Bengali - although Maratha and Rajput history transcended all bounds to gain an all-India popularity’ (Meenakshi Mukherjee, 1985). Often the language of the most spectacular historicals (see K. Asif, Sohrab Modi and Kamal Amrohi) was Urdu and the favourite settings were the Caliphates, the Delhi Sultanate (13th-16th C.) or the Mughal empire (16th C.). As Mukherjee points out via novelist Abdul Halim Sharar, the ‘Muslim evocation of a glorious past could hark back to the days of Moorish domination of Spain and other Mediterranean lands’. Generally, the genre was invented to represent the ‘moment of departure’ for Indian nationalism (Partha Chatterjee, 1986), resurrecting national or regional glory to create allegories for communal and regional difference and to consolidate the reform movements’ new historiography. The specific functions of the genre varied from region to region: in conditions where royalty had been reduced to a largely ceremonial role (e.g. South India), it was a specific response to imperialist domination: e.g. in Travancore where the first major novel by C.V. Raman Pillai (1858-1922), Martanda Varma? (1891; filmed in 1931) resurrected the 18th C. emperor; in the old Mysore province several Company Natak plays returned to the glory of the Vijayanagar Empire (14th C.). The early cinema takes off directly from the stage historical (cf. [[Baburao Painter]]). The most evident influence was the Parsee theatre, where the genre was interpreted entirely as a play about feudal power and therefore a crucial mediation of kinship relations (see Aga Hashr Kashmiri, Mehboob). Influential regional imitations of this mode included the Bengali plays of Dwijendralal Roy (Mewar Patan, 1909), interpreted by Parthasarathy Gupta in the context of Swadeshi (cf. Gupta, 1988), and the famous Shahjehan (1909) or those of Khirode Prasad Vidyavinode (e.g. Alamgir, 1921, staged by Sisir Bhaduri). Imperial Studio? re-coded the genre along Cecil B. DeMille? lines. [[Bhalji Pendharkar]] and G.V. Iyer? (in his Rajkumar films) used the genre for directly ideological ends. In most instances where the cinema took off from folk or popular theatre (as in Telugu), early historicals are usually blurred into other genres like the mythological or the Saint film (e.g. Vel Pics?) and are conventionally referred to as ‘costume’ dramas, a tradition later continued by Gemini?’s adventure films and politicised as an imaginary pseudo-history by MGR.