April 8, 2020 By John

The Uniqueness of Indian Cinema – Element 1 of 4


“There is a person much more point out in this region, and that is Hindi cinema. And Hindi cinema also has its own culture… rather different from Indian tradition but it is not alien to us, we have an understanding of it.”

Javed Akhtar in ‘Talking Films’

Indian filmmakers depart from their Hollywood counterparts in various methods. Whilst Hollywood filmmakers attempt to conceal the produced character of their do the job so that the practical narrative is wholly dominant, Indian filmmakers make no attempt to conceal the fact that what is shown on screen is a spectacle, an illusion, a fiction.

A amount of elements commit Indian well-liked cinema with a very clear identity but they can seldom be viewed as genuine pictures of Indian modern society or actuality. Having said that, they do replicate Indian culture, witnessed as it were, as a result of a distorted or damaged mirror. Amongst the distinctive attributes are the following:

-Indian preferred movies are, in most conditions, not reasonable and not rooted in any specific culture in India as they aspire to attain out to all-India audiences. In truth, typically a good exertion is made to make absolutely sure that it cannot be determined with any specific region of India.

-Performing is exaggerated as it is derived from the classic Indian folk varieties.

-Melodrama has an abiding presence in conditions of plot, character and use of qualifications music.

-The use of the digital camera is normally flashy, drawing interest to alone. The enhancing too is obtrusive which often stand in distinction to Western ideas of continuity.

-People are almost never unique people today they are frequently social stereotypes or archetypes.

-Tracks and dances are critical factors of a film’s attractiveness. They intervene into the narrative circulation, normally without having considerably justification. Therefore, films are not usually ‘organic’ in the Western feeling but neither is there considerably want to make it so. This might be the purpose why Western audiences resist this type of cinema, i.e. for its deficiency of organicity.

-Films hardly ever slide into genres as it is understood in scenario of American cinema. Instead, each individual film is ordinarily a mix of various genres. As a result the concept of the masala blend or the thali meal.

Indian popular movies hardly ever pretend to be wholly realistic. They are ruled by conventions typically shared in between filmmakers and audiences. These conventions have progressed traditionally and have arrived at a measure of stability. Indian popular movies simply cannot be judged by the reasonable yardstick applied to Western films.

It is an open solution that Indian cinema’s biggest weak point is the screenplay.The craft of crafting has hardly ever been taken critically in the Indian well-liked cinema and this reflects in the truth that scriptwriters are usually improperly paid out, if at all. That also clarifies the vicious circle why really serious writers do not want to enterprise into screenwriting. All this stands in immediate contrast to the way movies are made in Europe or America wherever the screenplay is the bedrock of film financing and screenplay progress is a huge marketplace. Hollywood, in unique, invests large quantities of money in acquiring screenplays, only a modest portion of which truly uncover their way to production. In India, growth funding for movies is uncommon or non-existent.

“It is much extra difficult to publish a screenplay for Naseeb than for a Western or ‘art’ movie, where by you have a straight storyline. A commercial Hindi movie has to have sub-plots and gags, and maintain its viewers associated with no story or logic.”

(K.K. Shukla, scriptwriter of Naseeb)

The assertion that Hindi movies have ‘no story’ is in some cases puzzling to individuals unfamiliar with the style. “Who cares who will get the story credits. Every person understands our films have no stories”, and, in point, the tale credits are generally provided to mates or family for tax adjustment functions. What is meant by ‘no story’ is that the storyline will be virtually totally predictable to the Indian audience, being a repetition, or somewhat, an unmistakable reworking of many other Hindi films, and also that it will be recognised by them as a ‘ridiculous’ pretext for spectacle and emotion. Movies which really have ‘no story’ i.e. non-narrative, or are ‘just spice of life’, or have the comparatively solitary-stranded narratives of lots of present-day European films, are deemed unlikely to be effective.

“The change among Hindi and Western movies is like that in between an epic and a limited tale.”

Javed Akhtar

There is of course excellent proof that Hindi movies have developed from village traditions of epic narration, and the dramas and the characters, as perfectly as the framework, of the mythological epics are often and brazenly drawn upon. Movie-makers generally insist that: ‘Every film can be traced again to these stories ‘, and even that ‘There are only two stories in the environment, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.’ In simple fact, it is the variety and motion of the narrative that tends to distinguish the Hindi movies, the crux of this becoming that the equilibrium between narrative improvement and magnificent or psychological extra is alternatively unique.

The narrative of the Indian common cinema is usually developed upon a uncomplicated opposition among good/morality and evil/decadence, and connotations of ‘traditional’ and ‘Indian’ are appended to morality, which is an best of social relations which features respect for kinship and friendship obligations, future, patriotism and faith (and spiritual tolerance) as well as restrained sexuality. Evil or decadence is broadly categorized as ‘non-traditional’ and ‘Western’, although the West is not so much a place, or even a lifestyle, as an emblem of unique, decadent otherness.

Filmmakers are rather mindful of developing their narratives all over phrases of an opposition so simple that audiences simply cannot effortlessly stay clear of immersion:

“Kinship emotion in India is pretty potent – so this factor usually functions – which is what ‘lost and found’ is about. It does not work so very well with educated audiences who go quite a few times devoid of looking at their households, but it functions with B and C quality audiences who get anxious if they never see a spouse and children member by 6.30 P.M., whose household customers are an critical portion of on their own and their experience of the earth “

(K.K. Shukla, screenplaywriter)


When we look at the evolution of preferred Indian cinema, there are sure forces that merit nearer investigation. These are:

1. The two Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
2. Classical Indian theatre
3. The folks theatre
4. The Parsi theatre
5. Hollywood
6. Television

Let us analyze each and every of them in a very little a lot more element so as to obtain a clearer knowing:


It is unarguably distinct that the Hindi movie, what ever look at one may hold of its standard excellent, is deeply embedded in selected mythic buildings which have described the contours of Indian civilization. Manmohan Desai claimed that all his movies were being influenced by the Mahabharata, and on celebration anything in the Hindi movie, from the archetypal figure of the mom to the anti-heroic hero, seem to spring from the epics. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have performed a very important part in shaping the imagined, imagination, and life-models of the huge mass of Indian men and women.

The two epics have usually provided Indian film producers with themes and plots. The incredibly first Indian “talkie”, Raja Harishchandra, was primarily based on the Ramayana, and considering the fact that then scores of films have drawn on the epics for plots. In addition, sure thematizations linked to motherhood, patrimony and revenge, for occasion in Mom India, Awaara, and Zanjeer respectively, that regularly uncover articulation in Indian cinema can be right traced to the influence of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

In purchase to realize the uniqueness of the Indian movie discourse, we have to understand the structure of narrativity in well-known Indian cinema. Although Indian cinema has been greatly affected by Hollywood, the art of narration with its unlimited digressions, circularities, and plots in just plots remained distinctly Indian. Listed here once more, the influence of the two epics is unmistakable.


Sanskrit theatre constitutes just one of the richest and most refined legacies of classical lndian culture. The Natya Shastra, the classical treatise on Indian dramaturgy, defines drama as a “mimicry of the exploits of the gods, the Asuras (demons), kings as perfectly as the householder in this earth.” In accordance to another critical treatise, the Dasharupa, drama is the imitation of conditions. Hence, the thought of mimicry or imitation is basic to the principle of Sanskrit drama.

The Sanskrit theatre was highly stylized it truly is mode of presentation was episodic laying the utmost emphasis on spectacle. In it, audio and dance coalesced magnificently to develop a wholly gratifying creative unity. Sanskrit theatre was guided by sturdy injunctions related to the assortment of plots, heroes and heroines, use of language, and the composition of the narrative. Poetry constituted a very vital aspect in Sanskrit drama. In truth, from the extremely earliest situations, drama was regarded as a branch of poetry. Poetry served to provide moral comments, intensify emotion, and conjure up vividly in the minds of the audience, the background of the action of the drama. Mime and dance sort an integral section of the classical Indian theatrical encounter. The Sanskrit word natya, meaning “drama” is derived from the root nritto, dance.

We can establish a quantity of capabilities of classical Indian drama which have an attention-grabbing bearing on the framework of popular Indian cinema. Sanskrit plays had been stunning dance-dramas in distinction to the tightly organized performs of the West. They have been non-naturalistic and stylized and demanded the imaginative reaction from the audience. As considerably of the force and vigour of the Sanskrit theatre was derived from conventional and common vocabulary of theatrical expression, the much more a single was acquainted with the tradition, the far better outfitted a single was to participate in the experience. Sanskrit dramas had been heroic intimate-tragic comedies with a powerful lyrical flavour. The final goal of the classical Indian dramatist was the development of a dominant aesthetic emotion (rasa) in the spectators.

Though well-liked cinema has a much more direct backlink with people theatre alternatively than classical theatre, the Sanskrit theatre’s significance stays vital as it is the resource of the people theatre varieties.

iii)People THEATRE:
Owing to a range of results in, Sanskrit drama began to drop following the tenth century. Concurrently, several remarkable varieties sprang up or matured in the several provinces which, preserved and embodied the essence of the classical custom. 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 most popular among the them. These different regional dramas, which are essentially creations of untutored people-artists, have a person central attribute in frequent, namely that in different levels of competence and trustworthiness they embody in a residing sort, the distinguishing qualities of the classical Sanskrit theatre.

When, after the tenth century, the classical Sanskrit language splintered into vernaculars and took root in the form of regional languages, the Sanskrit drama — petrified for many hundreds of years — was changed by the developing folk theatre. In this way, the custom flowed not from the folks to the classical, but from the classical to the folk. The folks-theatre inherits many of the classical conventions. This is, of system, not to advise that all folks- dramas of India have been derived from the classical tradition. Even so, what is vital to notice is that in all people rural dramas which have survived up to the present working day, the influence of the classical custom is evidently perceptible. In the use of humour, music and dance, the construction of the narratives, the informing melodramatic creativity, the people-theatre of India has no doubt exercised a profound influence on the makers of well known cinema.

iv)PARSI THEATRE:The Parsi theatre is the most vital cultural antecedent of the Indian well-liked cinema as significantly as the vaudeville was a cultural forerunner to the early American cinema. The Parsi theatre, which came into existence in the nineteenth century is a important url involving India’s standard narratives, performative traditions and its incorporation in just the structure of the technologically-driven medium of the cinema.

There have been a amount of Parsi theatrical businesses touring the state and accomplishing prior to crowded audiences.. These dramatists experienced a useful solid of brain and ended up more intrigued in professional accomplishment than artistic accomplishment. The Parsi theatre excelled in equally social and historic plays. Stylistically, they exhibited a curious amalgam of realism and fantasy, tunes and dance, narrative and spectacle, energetic dialogues and phase ingenuity, all welded inside of the framework of melodrama. These plays with their melodious tracks, crude humour, sensationalism, stunning stage craft were created to attractiveness to the wide mass of persons, and they did. The Parsi theatre which drew on equally western and Indian modalities of enjoyment represented an endeavor to attraction to the least expensive typical denominator. As a result, we observe that these plays bear an uncanny resemblance to the generality of popular Indian movies. If the folks-dramas had been based on rural regions and introduced the vocabulary of usually inherited theatrical expression, the Parsi plays signified an city theatre exposed to western designs and sensibilities.

Most importantly, the Parsi theatre introduced the principle of the proscenium theatre in India wherever traditional theatre performances were being held with a central phase and audiences have been seated all all around it. Even the actors would enter into the stage via the audience. Parsi theatre (or Corporation Nataka, as it was known in Japanese India for its affiliation with the East India Organization), while incorporating the themes and stories of regular Indian theatre, started applying the Western strategy of the phase with actors frontally addressing the audiences from a stage which was closed on all 3 sides, ushering us into the now-widespread structure of the theatre stage. This paved the way for the digicam to history the scenes from the stage of the look at of the viewers in the front row. With a central stage and audiences on all sides, the digital camera – which was so significant in those times that it had to be stationary – could not have captured the overall performance on-phase. Thus, the Parsi theatre aided make the transition from classic Indian theatre to cinema, not only in conditions of thematics but also in official terms.

“The American cinema’s seemingly pure subjection of style to narrative in truth depended on a historic accident: the movies’ origins lay in late nineteenth century whose predominant well known arts have been the novel and the theatre. Had cinema appeared in the Enlightenment or the Passionate time period, it might have assumed the shape of the essay or lyric poem. In its place, it adopted the standard tactic and aim of the reasonable novel. Conscious ‘style’ would be effaced each to set up the cinema’s illusion of reality and to inspire audience identification with the people on the display.”

(Satyajit Ray)

Indian film producers have been also enormously fascinated by, and captivated to, Hollywood musicals in that they associated in some interesting approaches to the defining properties of conventional Indian theatre and general performance. The heyday of Hollywood musicals stretched from the 1930s to the 1950s, and quite a few of the musicals developed through these two decades experienced as their plot the entire world of enjoyment alone. The narratives of these movies had been, by and huge, conventional, even though the tracks and spectacle provided the prospect both equally to the figures in the drama and the audience to indulge in flights of fantasy. It was by the doing the job out of the plot that the obvious disparity between narrative and spectacle was reconciled. This, on the other hand, is not a feature typically found in Indian movies.

The Indian industrial cinema, while drawing greatly from Hollywood musicals, adopted a distinctive tack in that the plot was not utilized in the services of healing the narrative/spectacle split. As a substitute track and dance sequences were and are utilized as pure expressions of every day feelings and circumstances. The Hollywood musical sought to maintain the facade of fact with a view to legitimatise the spectacle. They not only exhibited singing and dancing, but were, in truth, about singing and dancing. The Indian filmmakers, on the other hand, even though seeking to intensify the aspect of fantasy by tunes and spectacle, also strengthened the impression that tracks and dances are the all-natural and rational expression of emotion in the presented condition in the filmic overall performance. Songs contributes a critical ingredient in the cultural development of emotion. In this way, we see equally similarities and dissimilarities involving Hollywood musicals and Indian mainline movies.

The two primary components of the “invisible” fashion are mise-èn-scène and continuity editing. It implies that system should be utilized in such a way that it will not be discovered, earning itself ‘invisible’ in that sense. The ‘invisible’ type led to the basic principle of “centering”. Digicam angles, lights, target, framing, costumes, set designs, all labored unitedly to retain the major object of the narrative at the centre of the body. The discontinuity effected by enhancing, on the other hand, had been hid by techniques aimed to maintain intact spatial and temporal continuity from shot to shot. Continuing action, connecting appears to be, widespread seems, matching successive pictures by visual similarities, the 180 diploma process, and so forth ensured the continuity of editing. Indian filmmakers, with their inordinate enjoy for spectacular camera movements, extravagant use of colour, flashy editing and self-acutely aware use of seem depart occasionally from the “invisible” design and style of Hollywood. In the circumstance of Hollywood filmmakers, the narrative closure, unobtrusive and non-reflexive camera, continuity of image, voyeuristic objectification, shot centering, body equilibrium, sequential editing sought to build in the minds of the spectator the impression that what is staying shown on the display is an objective reporting of actual events somewhat than a contrived and wilfully established sequence of functions. In this regard, it is pertinent to remind ourselves of the notion of verisimilitude (an Aristotelian expression, referring to the resemblance to life that a operate of art promises) to the outcome that it must not be equated with reality but interpreted as what a culture will take for truth. Therefore, actuality can plausibly be argued as a cultural build.

In current several years, Hollywood has turn into the main searching floor for plots, stories and characters for films to these kinds of an extent that a huge variety of movies are Hindi remakes of Hollywood successes. This phenoemon, enabled by shot-by-shot remake through very easily accessible DVDs, has deepened the affect of Hollywood. Importantly, European or Latin American successes are almost never, if ever, replicated by ‘Bollywood’ films.


The cultural and visible effects of tv on filmmaking was felt somewhere in the 1980s, precisely with the attractiveness of the MTV-design and style editing (quick cuts). It is apparent in Indian well-known cinema in the 1980s and 1990s.

The speed of the films, the swift cutting, dance sequences, digicam angles that just one associates with modern day musical tv locate apparent analogies in modern day Indian films. One has to take a look at the function of a filmmaker these kinds of as Mani Ratnam to recognise this. As modern-day Indian audiences are a lot more and far more uncovered to audio tv programmes and these modern tactics of presentation, their sensibilities are naturally starting to be shaped by them. Obviously, modern day Indian filmmakers, in order to preserve their mass charm, are drawing substantially on the procedures of MTV. This is rarely surprising considering that films are where artwork and technology satisfy. It is the soundtrack which helps to construct the ‘image’ of a film and, even though the romance concerning filmmakers and know-how has not often been quick, new technologies – e.g. electronic photos and digital fact – are winning.

What we see, then, is the emergence of a distinctive genre of movie-creating in India as a consequence of the confluence of the various forces that we have reviewed previously mentioned. This style which sought to incorporate reality and fantasy, narrative and spectacle, music and dance, custom and modernity was at once deeply rooted in the cultural life and psyche of the folks and accommodative of new and foreign influences. This genre, which was mostly melodramatic in fashion, enabled the broad mass of Indian men and women to occur to terms with social modernization although retaining their Indianness.