On the quiet evening of July 07, 1896, the monsoon was rolling to an end in British India. Rolling over a projector, at the banquet hall of the Watson Hotel, in Bombay, were the first frames in Indian cinema history. The Lumerie Brothers Company was screening movies for the first time in India; six short silent ones. It took three years more, for the first two Indian films to appear in the same Indian city.
The first indigenous feature film, Harishchandra, produced by Dadasaheb Phalke, was screened in 1913, at the Coronation Cinema, Bombay. The seed, of what would become the largest film production industry in the world, was sown. The industry grew baby-stepping through the 1920s, with the establishment of studios, laboratories and theatres. Films continued soundless until the first talkie Alam Ara, directed by Adershir Irani, arrived in 1931, full of classical songs and long dance, like even today.
The 1940s saw films going regional. They also morphed into instruments of social change around the freedom struggle. The 1950s ushered in superstar culture of India, with audiences looking for favourite performers, like Dilip Kumar or Nargis. During the 1960s the film industry embraced romanticism as the predominant theme. This period also saw the carving of niches by non acting performers like singers and choreographers.The 1970s and 1980s witnessed the creation of categorization of films into art films, family films and so on. There also emerged distinct regional flavours for films ranging through the regional spectra from Assamese, through Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telgu and Tamil. It also saw Indian film makers like Mira Nair and Shekhar Kapur find international acclaim.
By the 1990s the Indian cinema became globally recognised for thematic quality with the works of directors like Satyajit Ray, Girish Kasaravalli and Shyam Benegal. By the 2000s screening of Indian cinema had become happy hunting grounds for even international giants like Sony and Warner Bros. Screening of movies in India today is estimated to earn revenues of 2 billion USD a year. The film music industry, which rode piggy-back on cinema screening, and generates a tenth of the revenue.
Today, Indian films are screened in markets spanning nearly 100 nations. Indian cinema today is a global enterprise holding the very first rank in output, ahead of American and Chinese ones.So influential, that makes stars of performers and can launch them right out of movie screens to ministerial chairs.
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