CANONIZING INDIAN PARALLEL CINEMA – PART 5: THE DEMISE (1990 – 1995)

naseem

Saeed Mirza’s Naseem, the final film in Parallel Cinema.

It might seem a little difficult to fathom that Parallel Cinema lasted for such a long time, covering four decades. That’s why it might be more appropriate in the respect of this lengthy time frame to posit Parallel Cinema as a certain approach to making films and not a film movement. This fifth and final phase pools together the least number of films and lasts for five years, although many of the major Parallel Cinema filmmakers were still active, albeit many had diversified into television, collaborating with Doordarshan to also make TV series. The cataclysmic events of Ayodhya and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, this historical and political rupture set in motion the ascension of Hindutva into the mainstream, legitimising the BJP’s political hegemony and altering the secularist cultural parameters of India.

In this perspective perhaps it is unsurprising that Parallel Cinema was to meet its demise especially when we recognise Parallel Cinema was predominately forged in both a secularist and radical Leftist context that was duly extinguished by a disturbing neo-nationalism that still prevails. Films like Mammo (94) and Naseem (95), counter representations of the Muslim family, were humanised rejoinders to the anti-Muslim rhetoric that had started to proliferate in the mainstream media. While Mammo would become the first of four films Benegal would direct that attempted to re-imagine Muslims in a three dimensional light, Saeed Mirza’s Naseem would effectively become his last film before his semi retirement and a work that seemed to mourn the loss of secularism in the iconic image of the ailing patriarch on his death bed.

This may have been the final phase of Parallel Cinema but with films like Shahani’s Kasba (90), Mishra’s Dharavi (91), Patwardhan’s Raam Ke Naam (92), Benegal’s Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda (92) and Gopalakrishnan’s Kathapurushan (95) there certainly wasn’t a lack of creativity. But with the push for economic liberalization and the rise of a NRI oriented cinema, popular Hindi cinema re-formulated itself in the ubiquitous post millennial image of Bollywood, the emptiest signifier of them all; global, excessive, standardised, mechanical, apolitical. However, the NFDC has remained, plodding along, massaging the lost vestiges of state patronage. On the horizon, beyond Bollywood, a new independent cinema would soon be born, forged precariously out of the ashes of Parallel Cinema, obfuscating a glorious cinematic past for a neoliberal magniloquence.

A Film Canon: Parallel Cinema

Fifth and Final Phase (1990 – 1995) 

  • Disha / The Uprooted Ones (Dir. Sai Paranjpye, 1990, Hindi)
  • Drishti / Vision (Dir. Govind Nihalani, 1990, Hindi)
  • Kasba (Dir. Kumar Shahani, 1990, Hindi)
  • Vasthuhara / The Dispossessed (Dir. G. Aravindan, 1990, Malayalam)
  • Agantuk / The Stranger (Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1991, Bengali)
  • Dharavi / Quicksand (Dir. Sudhir Mishra, 1991, Hindi)
  • Idiot (Dir. Mani Kaul, 1991, Hindi)
  • Something Like A War (Dir. Deepa Dhanraj, 1991, English)
  • Apathbandhavudu / The Saviour (Dir. K. Vishwanath, 1992, Telugu)
  • Cheluvi / The Flowering Tree (Dir. Girish Karnad, 1992, Hindi)
  • Maya Memsaab / The Enchanting Illusion (Dir. Ketan Mehta, 1992, Hindi)
  • Padma Nadir Majhi / Boatman of the River Padma (Dir. Gautam Ghose, 1992, Bengali)
  • Ram Ke Naam / In the Name of God (Dir. Anand Patwardhan, 1992, Hindi)
  • Rudaali / The Mourner (Dir. Kalpana Lajmi, 1992, Hindi)
  • Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda / The Seventh Horse of the Sun (Dir. Shyam Benegal, 1992, Hindi)
  • Antareen (Dir. Mrinal Sen, 1993, Bengali)
  • Indradhanura Chhai / The Shadows of the Rainbows (Dir. Sushant Misra, 1993, Oriya)
  • Sardar (Dir. Ketan Mehta, 1993, Hindi)
  • Sunya Theke Suru / A Return to Zero (Dir. Ashoke Vishwanathan, 1993, Bengali)
  • Vidheyan / The Servile (Dir. Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1993, Malayalam/Kannada)
  • Amodini (Dir. Chidananda Das Gupta, 1994, Bengali)
  • Aranyaka (Dir. Bhavdeep Jaipurwale, 1994, Hindi)
  • Drohkaal (Dir. Govind Nihalani, 1994, Hindi)
  • Hkhgoroloi Bohu Door / It’s a long way to the Sea (Dir. Jahnu Barua, 1994, Assamese)
  • Mammo (Dir. Shyam Benegal, 1994, Hindi)
  • Nirbachana (Dir. Biplab Roy Choudhury, 1994, Oriya)
  • Prasab / The Deliverance (Dir. Utpalendu Chakraborty, 1994, Bengali)
  • Sopan (Dir. Ajay Bannerjee, 1994, Bengali)
  • Tarpan (Dir. K. Bikram Singh, 1994, Hindi)
  • Tunnu Ki Tina (Dir. Paresh Kamdar, 1994, Hindi)
  • Wheelchair (Dir. Tapan Sinha, 1994, Bengali)
  • Bangarwadi (Dir. Amol Palekar, 1995, Marathi)
  • Doghi (Dir. Sumitra Bhave, 1995, Marathi)
  • Kahini (Dir. Malay Bhattacharya, 1995, Bengali)
  • Kathapurushan (Dir. Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1995, Malayalam)
  • Limited Manuski (Dir. Nachiket/Jayoo Patwardhan, 1995, Marathi)
  • Naseem (Dir. Saeed Akhtar Mirza, 1995, Hindi)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s