On August 15, 1947, India gained its independence from the British Empire after 190 years of what is known as India’s Independence Movement. Surrounding this time of independence, the Indian film industry burgeoned into what is now known as their Golden Age. The country’s independence played a key role in the film industry, affecting the philosophical and political underpinnings of cinematic productions, and providing modern viewers a fascinating look into the social and political goings-on of the past.
Spanning the late 1940s through the 1960s, this period saw the production of some of India’s most critically acclaimed directors, actors and actresses, and films of all time. In fact, some of these are renowned not just within the realm of Indian cinema, but throughout the world. For example, Satyajit Ray has been described as one of the top filmmakers of the 20th century. His film, Pather Panchali, was ranked among the top ten films in a 1992 poll taken by the British film magazine Sight and Sound. In fact, Pather Panchali is still ranked among the top fifty films of all time according to Sight and Sound’s most recent poll (2012). In addition to Satyajit Ray, there are many other important people to remember from this time: Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Dev Anand, Nargis, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi, and Asha Bhosle to name a few.
The Golden Age of Indian cinema includes the establishment of the Parallel Cinema movement, which began in West Bengal in the 1950s. This movement is known for “serious content, realism and naturalism, symbolic elements with a keen eye on the sociopolitical climate of the times, and for the rejection of the dance-and-song numbers that are typical of mainstream commercial Indian cinema” (“Parallel Cinema”, n.d., retrieved September 30, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_Cinema). Later, in the 1960s, this movement led to the Indian New Wave.
Whether you are interested in Indian films specifically, or film history in general, check out some movies from the Golden Age of Indian Cinema.
For additional information about this period in Indian cinema, check out the Wikipedia summary here. For a more in-depth examination, here are some suggested resources to check out via IUCAT:
- House Full: The Golden Age of Hindi Cinema edited by Ziya Us Salam
- 100 Years of Indian Cinema edited by Neelam Laitonjam
- Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema by Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen
- Indian Cinema: The Bollywood Saga by Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari
- Indian Cinema: A Visual Voyage by the National Film Development Corporation
- Pride of Tamil Cinema 1931-2013: Tamil Films that have Earned National and International Recognition by G. Dhananjayan
- Bengali Cinema: 'An Other Nation' by Sharmistha Gooptu
- Bengali Cinema by Kironmoy Raha