The Fall and Rise of Parallel Cinema in India

Posted by on Apr 21 2012 | Cinema, entertainment industry

The bug of being serious (not Cyrus) drains in an obvious yawn of over the head content. Especially for those who never prefer to be involved in serious discourse by any means. Being born in a multicultural society like India, witnessing all kinds of colors with respect to each and every societal contour creating endless socio-political and socio-economic upheavals is just inevitable. Stating the fact quite convincingly that media has played a major role in reflecting the ongoing state of affairs in the country, would need a skeptic take when it comes to referring the job as a money-making business.

Commercializing and fantasizing the real world may have been the winning formula in the Indian film industry for quite a long time. However, there were few visionaries who always wanted to take the untrodden path of showing the true reflections of the Indian society. Keeping them away from the usual spice that is often associated with ‘Bollywood’, these luminaries took the onus to showcase the real India to the Indian as well as the international audience. Post independence, visionaries like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Shanta Ram and Sohrab Modi were among the few unique filmmakers whose films masterfully chronicled the societal transformation taking place in India.

Then came the dark and brooding 70s, when the entire Indian society came under the grips of extreme frustration and anger.  The strained Indian economy coupled with the ghost of emergency smacked out the normal life of an Indian from the track. Suppression of civil liberties and constitutional breakdown were core worrying issues for the Indian society. These issues acted as seeds for the birth of Indian New Wave Cinema or Parallel Cinema. Films being categorized in this particular genre addressed the growing frustrations of Indians during that period. The National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi and Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune has also played a major role in producing remarkable filmmakers who ushered a new life in the world of filmmaking in the country.

Names worth mentionable in this regard are Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Buddhadeb Das Gupta, Basu Chatterjee and many more. If you have heard and even watched few of these masterpieces – Ankur, Aakrosh, Bhumika, Nishant, Manthan, Arth, Saraansh, Ardh Satya, Aghaat – you must know by now what parallel cinema is and what they tried to convey to the masses. The Indian New Wave Cinema saw its slow decline in the 1990s when the production costs started reaching sky high limits. The incessant commercialization hammered down the parallel cinema industry so bad that it had a bleak chance of revival.

However, since the advent of the 21st century, parallel cinema has revived itself quite notably. Films like “3 Deewarein”, “Dor”, “Iqbal”, “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi”, “Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi”, “Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Maara”, “Firaaq”, “My Brother…Nikhil”, “Dev D”, “Gulaal”, “Sikander”, “Udaan”, “Love Sex Aur Dhokha”, “Manorama Six Feet Under”, “Khosla ka Ghosla”, “Oye Lucky Lucky Oye”, “Tere Bin Laden”, “Peepli Live”, “Phas Gaye Re Obama” and many more have created a new definition for parallel cinema.

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