The Uniqueness of Indian Cinema – Part 1 of 4

April 5, 2016

“There is one added accompaniment in this country, and that is Hindi cinema. And Hindi cinema aswell has its own culture… absolutely altered from Indian ability but it is not conflicting to us, we accept it.”

Javed Akhtar in ‘Talking Films’

Indian filmmakers abandon from their Hollywood counterparts in altered ways. Whereas Hollywood filmmakers strive to burrow the complete attributes of their plan so that the astute anecdotal is wholly dominant, Indian filmmakers accomplish no attack to burrow the actuality that what is credible on awning is a spectacle, an illusion, a fiction.

A amount of elements advance Indian accepted cinema with a bright appearance but they can rarely be advised accurate images of Indian affiliation or reality. However, they do reflect Indian society, credible as it were, through a adulterated or torn mirror. A part of the characteristic appearance are the following:

-Indian accepted films are, in a lot of cases, not astute and not constant in any specific ability aural India as they aspire to ability out to all-India audiences. In fact, generally a abundant accomplishment is fabricated to accomplish constant that it cannot be articular with any accurate arena of India.

-Acting is abstract as it is acquired from the acceptable Indian folk forms.

-Melodrama has an constant attendance in agreement of plot, appearance and use of accomplishments music.

-The use of the camera is generally flashy, cartoon absorption to itself. The alteration too is bulging which sometimes angle in adverse to Western concepts of continuity.

-Characters are rarely altered individuals; they are generally amusing stereotypes or archetypes.

-Songs and dances are acute apparatus of a film’s appeal. They arbitrate into the anecdotal flow, generally afterwards abundant justification. Thus, films are not consistently ‘organic’ in the Western faculty but neither is there abundant charge to accomplish it so. This may be the acumen why Western audiences abide this anatomy of cinema, i.e. for its abridgement of organicity.

-Films rarely abatement into genres as it is accepted in case of American cinema. Rather, every blur is about a aggregate of altered genres. Hence the abstraction of the masala mix or the thali meal.

Indian accepted films never pretend to be wholly realistic. They are absolute by conventions frequently aggregate amid filmmakers and audiences. These conventions accept acquired historically and accept accomplished a admeasurement of stability. Indian accepted films cannot be advised by the astute criterion activated to Western films.

It is an accessible abstruse that Indian cinema’s greatest weakness is the screenplay.The ability of autograph has rarely been taken actively in the Indian accepted cinema and this reflects in the actuality that scriptwriters are usually ailing paid, if at all. That aswell explains the abandoned amphitheater why austere writers do not wish to adventure into screenwriting. All this stands in absolute adverse to the way films are fabricated in Europe or America area the cine is the basement of blur costs and cine development is a huge industry. Hollywood, in particular, invests huge amounts of money in developing screenplays, alone a baby atom of which in actuality acquisition their way to production. In India, development allotment for films is attenuate or non-existent.


“It is abundant added difficult to address a cine for Naseeb than for a Western or ‘art’ film, area you accept a beeline storyline. A bartering Hindi blur has to accept sub-plots and gags, and accumulate its admirers complex with no adventure or logic.”

(K.K. Shukla, scriptwriter of Naseeb)

The affirmation that Hindi films accept ‘no story’ is sometimes ambagious to those alien with the genre. “Who cares who gets the adventure credits. Everyone knows our films accept no stories”, and, in fact, the adventure credits are generally accustomed to accompany or ancestors for tax acclimation purposes. What is meant by ‘no story’ is that the storyline will be about absolutely anticipated to the Indian audience, getting a repetition, or rather, an credible adjustment of abounding added Hindi films, and aswell that it will be recognised by them as a ‘ridiculous’ affectation for comedy and emotion. Films which absolutely accept ‘no story’ i.e. non-narrative, or are ‘just aroma of life’, or accept the analogously single-stranded narratives of abounding abreast European films, are advised absurd to be successful.

“The aberration amid Hindi and Western films is like that amid an ballsy and a abbreviate story.”

Javed Akhtar

There is of advance acceptable affirmation that Hindi films accept acquired from apple traditions of ballsy narration, and the dramas and the characters, as able-bodied as the structure, of the fabulous epics are consistently and aboveboard fatigued upon. Film-makers generally assert that: ‘Every blur can be traced aback to these belief ‘, and even that ‘There are alone two belief in the world, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.’ In fact, it is the anatomy and movement of the anecdotal that tends to analyze the Hindi films, the body of this getting that the antithesis amid anecdotal development and amazing or affecting antithesis is rather different.

The anecdotal of the Indian accepted cinema is generally congenital aloft a simple activity amid good/morality and evil/decadence, and connotations of ‘traditional’ and ‘Indian’ are added to morality, which is an ideal of amusing relations which includes account for alikeness and accord obligations, destiny, bellicism and adoration (and religious tolerance) as able-bodied as aseptic sexuality. Evil or corruption is broadly categorized as ‘non-traditional’ and ‘Western’, although the West is not so abundant a place, or even a culture, as an adumbration of exotic, corrupt otherness.

Filmmakers are absolutely acquainted of architecture their narratives about agreement of an activity so basal that audiences cannot calmly abstain immersion:

“Kinship affect in India is actual able – so this aspect consistently works – that’s what ‘lost and found’ is about. It does not plan so able-bodied with accomplished audiences who go several canicule afterwards seeing their families, but it works with B and C brand audiences who get afraid if they don’t see a ancestors affiliate by 6.30 P.M., whose ancestors assembly are an important allotment of themselves and their acquaintance of the apple “

(K.K. Shukla, screenplaywriter)


When we appraise the change of accepted Indian cinema, there are assertive armament that arete afterpiece analysis. These are:

1. The two Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata;

2. Classical Indian theatre

3. The folk theatre

4. The Parsi theatre

5. Hollywood

6. Television

Let us appraise anniversary of them in a little added detail so as to accretion a clearer understanding:


It is unarguably bright that the Hindi film, whatever appearance one ability authority of its accepted quality, is acutely anchored in assertive allegorical structures which accept authentic the contours of Indian civilization. Manmohan Desai claimed that all his films were aggressive by the Mahabharata, and on break aggregate in the Hindi film, from the archetypal amount of the mother to the anti-heroic hero, arise to bounce from the epics. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata accept played a acute role in abstraction the thought, imagination, and life-styles of the all-inclusive accumulation of Indian people.

The two epics accept generally supplied Indian blur producers with capacity and plots. The actual aboriginal Indian “talkie”, Raja Harishchandra, was based on the Ramayana, and back afresh array of films accept fatigued on the epics for plots. In addition, assertive thematizations accompanying to motherhood, assets and revenge, for instance in Mother India, Awaara, and Zanjeer respectively, that afresh acquisition delivery in Indian cinema can be anon traced to the access of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

In adjustment to accept the character of the Indian blur discourse, we accept to accept the anatomy of narrativity in accepted Indian cinema. Although Indian cinema has been heavily afflicted by Hollywood, the art of account with its amaranthine digressions, circularities, and plots aural plots remained audibly Indian. Here again, the access of the two epics is unmistakable.


Sanskrit theatre constitutes one of the richest and a lot of adult legacies of classical lndian culture. The Natya Shastra, the classical argument on Indian dramaturgy, defines ball as a “mimicry of the exploits of the gods, the Asuras (demons), kings as able-bodied as the aborigine in this world.” According to addition important treatise, the Dasharupa, ball is the apery of situations. Hence, the abstraction of assuming or apery is axiological to the abstraction of Sanskrit drama.

The Sanskrit theatre was awful stylized; it’s approach of presentation was anecdotal laying the absolute accent on spectacle. In it, music and ball coalesced alluringly to actualize a wholly acceptable artful unity. Sanskrit theatre was guided by able injunctions accompanying to the alternative of plots, heroes and heroines, use of language, and the anatomy of the narrative. Balladry constituted a actual important aspect in Sanskrit drama. Indeed, from the actual ancient times, ball was advised a annex of poetry. Balladry served to activity moral comments, accent emotion, and adjure up vividly in the minds of the audience, the accomplishments of the activity of the drama. Mime and ball anatomy an basal allotment of the classical Indian affected experience. The Sanskrit chat natya, acceptation “drama” is acquired from the basis nritto, dance.

We can analyze a amount of appearance of classical Indian ball which accept an absorbing address on the anatomy of accepted Indian cinema. Sanskrit plays were amazing dance-dramas in adverse to the acutely organized plays of the West. They were non-naturalistic and august and accepted the aesthetic acknowledgment from the audience. As abundant of the force and vigour of the Sanskrit theatre was acquired from accepted and acceptable cant of affected expression, the added one was acquainted with the tradition, the bigger able one was to participate in the experience. Sanskrit dramas were ballsy romantic-tragic comedies with a able agreeable flavour. The ultimate aim of the classical Indian author was the conception of a ascendant artful affect (rasa) in the spectators.

Though accepted cinema has a added absolute hotlink with folk theatre rather than classical theatre, the Sanskrit theatre’s accent charcoal acute as it is the anterior of the folk theatre forms.


Owing to a amount of causes, Sanskrit ball began to abatement afterwards the tenth century. Concurrently, abundant affecting forms sprang up or accomplished in the assorted ambit which, preserved and embodied the aspect of the classical tradition. The Yatra of Bengal, Ram Lila and Krishna Lila of Uttar Pradesh, Tamasha of Maharashtra, Nautanki of Rajasthan, Bhavai of Gujarat, Bhagavata Mela of Tanjore, Terukkuttu of Tamilnadu, Vithinatakam of Andhra and Yakshagana of Karnataka are the a lot of arresting a part of them. These assorted bounded dramas, which are about creations of benighted folk-artists, accept one axial affection in common, namely that in capricious degrees of adequacy and believability they actualize in a active form, the appropriate ancestry of the classical Sanskrit theatre.

When, afterwards the tenth century, the classical Sanskrit accent splintered into vernaculars and took basis in the anatomy of bounded languages, the Sanskrit ball — abashed for abounding centuries — was replaced by the growing folk theatre. In this way, the attitude flowed not from the folk to the classical, but from the classical to the folk. The folk-theatre inherits abounding of the classical conventions. This is, of course, not to advance that all folk- dramas of India accept been acquired from the classical tradition. However, what is important to beam is that in all those rural dramas which accept survived up to the present day, the access of the classical attitude is acutely perceptible. In the use of humour, music and dance, the anatomy of the narratives, the allegorical artificial imagination, the folk-theatre of India has no agnosticism acclimatized a abstruse access on the makers of accepted cinema.

iv)PARSI THEATRE:The Parsi theatre is the a lot of basal cultural anterior of the Indian accepted cinema as abundant as the amphitheater was a cultural advertiser to the aboriginal American cinema. The Parsi theatre, which came into actuality in the nineteenth aeon is a acute hotlink amid India’s acceptable narratives, performative traditions and its assimilation aural the architecture of the technologically-driven average of the cinema.

There were a amount of Parsi affected companies touring the country and assuming afore awash audiences.. These dramatists had a applied casting of apperception and were added absorbed in bartering success than artful achievement. The Parsi theatre excelled in both amusing and actual plays. Stylistically, they displayed a analytical admixture of accuracy and fantasy, music and dance, anecdotal and spectacle, active dialogues and date ingenuity, all anchored aural the framework of melodrama. These plays with their accordant songs, awkward humour, sensationalism, admirable date ability were advised to address to the ample accumulation of people, and they did. The Parsi theatre which drew on both western and Indian modalities of ball represented an attack to address to the everyman accepted denominator. Thus, we apprehension that these plays buck an astonishing affinity to the generality of accepted Indian films. If the folk-dramas were based on rural areas and presented the cant of frequently affiliated affected expression, the Parsi plays adumbrated an burghal theatre credible to western styles and sensibilities.

Most importantly, the Parsi theatre alien the abstraction of the proscenium theatre in India area acceptable theatre performances were captivated with a axial date and audiences were built-in all about it. Even the actors would access into the date through the audience. Parsi theatre (or Company Nataka, as it was accepted in Eastern India for its affiliation with the East India Company), while accumulation the capacity and belief of acceptable Indian theatre, started application the Western abstraction of the date with actors frontally acclamation the audiences from a date which was bankrupt on all three sides, ushering us into the now-prevalent architecture of the theatre stage. This paved the way for the camera to almanac the scenes from the point of the appearance of the admirers in the foreground row. With a axial date and audiences on all sides, the camera – which was so abundant in those canicule that it had to be anchored – could not accept captured the achievement on-stage. Thus, the Parsi theatre helped accomplish the alteration from acceptable Indian theatre to cinema, not alone in agreement of thematics but aswell in academic terms.


“The American cinema’s allegedly accustomed chains of appearance to anecdotal in actuality depended on a actual accident: the movies’ origins lay in backward nineteenth aeon whose absolute accepted arts were the atypical and the theatre. Had cinema appeared in the Enlightenment or the Romantic period, it ability accept affected the appearance of the article or lyric poem. Instead, it adopted the basal tactic and ambition of the astute novel. Conscious ‘style’ would be effaced both to authorize the cinema’s apparition of absoluteness and to animate admirers identification with the characters on the screen.”

(Satyajit Ray)

Indian blur producers were aswell abundantly absorbed by, and admiring to, Hollywood musicals in that they accompanying in some absorbing agency to the defining characteristics of acceptable Indian theatre and performance. The heyday of Hollywood musicals continued from the 1930s to the 1950s, and abounding of the musicals produced during these two decades had as their artifice the apple of ball itself. The narratives of these films were, by and large, conventional, while the songs and comedy offered the befalling both to the characters in the ball and the admirers to allow in flights of fantasy. It was through the alive out of the artifice that the credible alterity amid anecdotal and comedy was reconciled. This, however, is not a affection frequently credible in Indian films.

The Indian bartering cinema, while cartoon heavily from Hollywood musicals, adopted a altered tack in that the artifice was not active in the account of healing the narrative/spectacle split. Instead song and ball sequences were and are acclimated as accustomed expressions of accustomed affections and situations. The Hollywood agreeable approved to advance the bluff of absoluteness with a appearance to legitimatise the spectacle. They not alone displayed singing and dancing, but were, in fact, about singing and dancing. The Indian filmmakers, on the added hand, while gluttonous to accent the aspect of fantasy through music and spectacle, aswell able the consequence that songs and dances are the accustomed and analytic announcement of affect in the accustomed bearings in the accurate performance. Music contributes a basal additive in the cultural architecture of emotion. In this way, we see both similarities and differences amid Hollywood musicals and Indian mainline films.

The two basal capacity of the “invisible” appearance are mise-èn-scène and chain editing. It agency that address should be acclimated in such a way that it will not be noticed, authoritative itself ‘invisible’ in that sense. The ‘invisible’ appearance led to the assumption of “centering”. Camera angles, lighting, focus, framing, costumes, set designs, all formed unitedly to accumulate the primary article of the anecdotal at the centermost of the frame. The aperture accomplished by editing, on the added hand, were buried by practices aimed to accumulate complete spatial and banausic chain from attempt to shot. Continuing action, abutting looks, accepted sounds, analogous alternating shots by beheld similarities, the 180 amount system, etc ensured the chain of editing. Indian filmmakers, with their disproportionate adulation for affecting camera movements, absurd use of colour, blatant alteration and affected use of complete abandon sometimes from the “invisible” appearance of Hollywood. In the case of Hollywood filmmakers, the anecdotal closure, humble and non-reflexive camera, chain of image, voyeuristic objectification, attempt centering, anatomy balance, consecutive alteration approved to actualize in the minds of the beholder the consequence that what is getting displayed on the awning is an cold advertisement of absolute contest rather than a apish and wilfully created arrangement of events. In this regard, it is pertinent to admonish ourselves of the abstraction of color (an Aristotelian term, apropos to the affinity to activity that a plan of art claims) to the aftereffect that it should not be equated with absoluteness but interpreted as what a ability takes for reality. Hence, absoluteness can allegedly be argued as a cultural construct.

In contempo years, Hollywood has become the capital hunting arena for plots, belief and characters for films to such an admeasurement that a ample amount of films are Hindi remakes of Hollywood successes. This phenoemon, enabled by shot-by-shot accommodate through calmly accessible DVDs, has deepened the access of Hollywood. Importantly, European or Latin American successes are rarely, if ever, replicated by ‘Bollywood’ films.


The cultural and beheld appulse of television on filmmaking was acquainted about in the 1980s, accurately with the acceptance of the MTV-style alteration (fast cuts). It is axiomatic in Indian accepted cinema in the 1980s and 1990s.

The clip of the films, the quick cutting, ball sequences, camera angles that one assembly with avant-garde agreeable television acquisition bright analogies in avant-garde Indian films. One has to appraise the plan of a filmmaker such as Mani Ratnam to recognise this. As avant-garde Indian audiences are added and added credible to music television programmes and these avant-garde techniques of presentation, their sensibilities are acutely alpha to be shaped by them. Naturally, abreast Indian filmmakers, in adjustment to advance their accumulation appeal, are cartoon decidedly on the techniques of MTV. This is hardly hasty back films are area art and technology meet. It is the soundtrack which helps to assemble the ‘image’ of a blur and, although the accord amid filmmakers and technology has not consistently been easy, new technologies – e.g. agenda images and basic absoluteness – are winning.

What we see, then, is the actualization of a characteristic brand of film-making in India as a aftereffect of the assemblage of the assorted armament that we accept discussed above. This brand which approved to amalgamate absoluteness and fantasy, anecdotal and spectacle, music and dance, attitude and change was at already acutely constant in the cultural activity and anima of the humans and accommodative of new and adopted influences. This genre, which was abundantly artificial in style, enabled the all-inclusive accumulation of Indian humans to appear to agreement with amusing addition while application their Indianness.

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