wiki:New Indian Cinema

New Indian Cinema

Promotional label for a sector of state sponsored film-making said to have originated either with Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome (1969) or Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti (1969). Associated in the late 60s/early 70s with financial support from the FFC (see NFDC), making it the first major result of governmental support for feature-film production outside the industrial mainstream. Among its beneficiaries were FTII graduates like Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul, Saeed Mirza and Ketan Mehta. It also generated technicians who pioneered aesthetic and technological innovations which had a substantial impact on the technical standards of the film industry itself: the camerawork of K.K. Mahajan in Hindi, Venu in Malayalam and Ramchandra in Kannada cinemas, the sound recording of Kuldeep Sud and later Hitendra Ghosh and P.C. Padmanabhan. Described by the popular press as a ‘new wave’ in a facile comparison with the French nouvelle vague, prompting Satyajit Ray to issue a somewhat dismissive response to the sector, ‘An Indian New Wave?’ (1971: cf. Ray, 1976). What shaped the new cinema most decisively was the cultural and political dynamic sparked by the mainstream industry’s massive opposition to it. While attacking ‘financially unviable’ films, the industry also sought to exploit its aura of cultural value for its own purposes (cf. B.R. Ishara). The films that articulated an ‘official’ agenda were Pattabhi Rama Reddy’s Samskara (1970) and Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (1973). Both, like Bhuvan Shome and M.S. Sathyu’s Garam Hawa (1973), were low-budget box-office successes. Samskara gave a new dimension to the predominantly literary movements in Kannada (see Navya Movement) and encouraged the notion of ‘regional realism’, claiming Satyajit Ray as its major progenitor (a role Ray was happy to play) although Tendulkar’s theatre work offered a more credible source. This development was extended into the Malayalam cinema by Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aravindan. In its later, post-Benegal phase, New Indian Cinema often drew on advertising capital and aesthetics for art-house film-making, legitimating a new definition enshrined in e.g. the parliamentary committee’s instructions, during the Emergency, to the FFC to grant loans on the following criteria: ‘1. Human interest in the story; 2. Indianness in theme and approach; 3. Characters with whom the audience can identify; 4. Dramatic content and 5. Background and capability of the applicant’ (Committee On Public Undertakings Report, 1976). This ideology became official cultural policy in the 7th Five-Year Plan and had a decisive impact on Doordarshan as well as shaping the NFDC’s and the Directorate of Film Festivals’ institutional priorities.


Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Jun 28, 2012, 3:55:24 PM