The first feature film in India, Pundalik, was made by R.G. Tourney and N.G Chitre in 1912. However, the first Indian to make a film was Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar in 1899. He made short films like ‘The Wrestlers’ and ‘Man and Monkey’. Pundalik was followed by Raja Harishchandra (1913) made by the Father of Indian Cinema, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (Dada Saheb Phalke).
The talkie era in Indian films started with ‘Alam Ara’ (1931) directed by Ardeshir Irani. Before the arrival of colour films in Indian Cinema, great film makers like V. Shantaram (Duniya Na Mane, Aadmi, Padosi, Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani, Do Ankhen Barah Hath); P.C. Barua (Devadas, Mukti), Mehboob (Watan, Aurat, Ek Hi Rasta, Aan, Mother India) and Sohrab Modi (Pukar, Sikandar, Prithvi Vallabh) set new standards in film making, with themes ranging from social protest to historical and mythological settings.
Indian Cinema finally made its mark on the international film-map with the arrival of Satyajit Ray in 1953 and his masterpiece ‘Pather Panchali’. It won the Cannes award for ‘the best human document’, besides a host of other national and international awards.
By the time Satyajit Ray died, he had made 28 full length feature films and a few documentaries. Some of his better known works are Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Charulata, Sadgati, Aparajito (all in Bengali) and Shatranj Ke Khiladi (in Hindi). His last film ‘Agantuk’ won the National Award for the best feature film in 1991.
For his ‘lifetime achievement’ Satyajit Ray was honoured with the ‘Special Oscar’ award just prior to his death.
Mira Nair was the top winner at the Venice Film Festival in Sept. 01, for “Monsoon Wedding”.
Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen (Bhuban Some, Mrigaya, Ek Din Pratidin) and Ritwik Ghatak (Meghe Dhaka Tara, Komal Gandhar, Subarnarekha) were the founding fathers of the New Indian Cinematography (popularly called Parallel Cinema) in the late sixties.
Some of the other great names in Hindi films are Bimal Roy (Do Bigha Zamin), K.A. Abbas (Munna, Rahi), K. Asif (Mughal-e-Azam) and Raj Kapoor (Awara, Boot Polish, Jagte Raho, Mera Naam Joker, Jis Desh Mein Ganga ‘feahti Hai).
Some of the notable film-makers from the South are Adoor Gopalkrishanan, director of Malayalam films (Swaymvaram, Kodiyettem, Mukhamukham), Late G Aravindan (Utharayanam, Thamp, Vasthuhara), Girish Karnad (Kaadu), K. Balachander, Balu Mahendra, John Abraham, K.R. Mohanan, etc.
Over the years, India has emerged as the leading producer of feature films, with an annual production of nearly 800 films.
Named after the first Indian film celebrity, Dada Saheb Phalke Awards are announced every year. The first recipient was Devika Rani in 1969, in 2009, the Award was given to Manna Day the famous singer.
Central Board of Film Certification:
The certification of this regular body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is essential for the public exhibition of films in India. The Central Board has several regional offices at Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and New Delhi. The Board examines certification in accordance with the provisions contained in Cinematograph Act 1952, Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983 and the guidelines issued by the Central Government in this regard.
Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, with headquarters in New Delhi, hears appeals against the decisions of the CBFC.
Normally films are certified U (Universal showing – no restrictions) and ‘A’ (Restricted to adults only).
Established in 1948, it is perhaps the world’s single largest producer and distributor of news reels and documentaries. Besides, it also produces 16 mm feature films for rural audience in regional languages. It also produces cartoon films and educational films.
National Film Development Corporation Limited (NFDC):
NFDC is a central agency established to promote good cinema in the country. The NFDC was formed by the merger of the erstwhile Film Finance Corporation (FFC) and Indian Motion Picture Export Corporation (IMPEC) in 1980. It has financed nearly 150 films so far. NDFC also plays an important role in the import of foreign films and the expert of Indian films.
Directorate of Film Festivals:
The Directorate of Film Festivals was set up in 1973 with a view to promoting good Indian films in India and abroad. The Directorate is entrusted with the organisation of national and international film festivals, film weeks under cultural exchange programmes and participation in international film festivals.
It also organises the National Film Awards annually. Film awards are given every year to outstanding films. The Dada Saheb Phalke Award for 2001 was given to Asha Bhonsle, the famous playback singer. She has captivated millions in the country with her mellifluous voice. Though almost 70, she still reigns supreme.
Yash Chopra, the popular film producer and director is the latest recipient” of the Dada Saheb Phalke award for 2002. Dev Anand received the Award for 2003. Goa is now the venue of International Film Festival of India, it will vie for prominence along with Cannes and K Arlouy Vary.
National Film Archives of India:
The main objective of National Film Archives of India (NFAI) is to acquire and preserve the best of National cinema and world cinema. It was established in 1964, with headquarters at Pune.
Besides, it is also involved in film classification, documentation and research encouraging film technology and spread of film culture in the country. The NFAI has regional offices at Kolkata, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram.
Children’s Film Society:
Established in 1955, it is engaged in the production, acquisition, distribution and exhibition of films for children. The Society also organises International Children’s Film Festival in India and participates in film festivals abroad.
The Film and Television Institute of India:
The Institute was established in 1960 at Pune to impart technical training in film making in a systematic way. The Film wing offers courses leading to Diploma in Cinema with specialization in areas like direction, cinematography, editing, sound recording and sound engineering.
Indian Films Abroad:
Monsoon Wedding directed by Mira Nair has won worldwide acclaim including a few International Awards, Indian film maker Mike Pandey, ‘Shores of Silence – Whale Sharks in India’, a short film about the mindless slaughter of whale sharks in the country, has won the top prize at the prestigious Turin environmental film festival in Italy in Oct. 2001.
Lagan, produced by Amir Khan, was short-listed for the Oscar’s in March 2002, in the best produced foreign film category. However, it failed to win the award. Taare Zameen Par was India’s official entry in 2009.