All posts filed under: film canons

Canonizing Indian Parallel Cinema – Part 4: The High Point (1980 – 1989)

This fourth period between 1980 and 1989 is a remarkable one in terms of how Parallel Cinema was able to find its biggest audiences. This was a period that also witnessed the inevitable augmentation of Middle Cinema. It was typified by films like Kalyug (The Machine Age, 1981), a cross-over work that saw Benegal continue a series of fascinating collaborations with Shashi Kapoor, a major star of popular Hindi cinema who had in turn cultivated a dual career working with Merchant and Ivory. Two very significant women filmmakers also made a name for themselves including Sai Paranjpye (who was able to bring an understanding of framing and composition to her work that few filmmakers could match in the comedy genre) and Aparna Sen, a star of Bengali cinema, who had turned her hand to filmmaking and who is still working today. Cinematographer turned filmmaker Govind Nihalani would stake a claim as a key political voice, although aligned very much with the Middle Cinema of Benegal, with works like the austerely shot Aakrosh (Cry of the Wounded, …

Canonizing Indian Parallel Cinema – Part 1: The foundational years/developmental phase (1968 – 1974)

There is a general consensus that Indian Parallel Cinema officially started in 1969 with the triptych of Bhuvan Shome, Uski Roti and Sara Akash. In 1968 B.K. Karanjia, former editor of Filmfare, was appointed chairman of the FFC. Prior to Karanjia’s appointment, the FFC, reluctant to support new cinema had been criticised for its support of successful realist filmmakers like Satyajit Ray. Under the ‘enlightened chairmanship’ (Vasudev, 1986: 34) of Karanjia, the FFC softened its stance, adopting a new formula: ‘low budget films, talented new filmmakers, Indian stories’ (2005: 194). The new criteria would become official in 1971. B.K. Karanjia’s initial chairmanship lasted seven years (1969 – 1975), approving the financing of thirty-six films and ‘between them they won twenty-one national and international awards’ (2005: 197) resulting in a cultural prestige for the state. Indira Gandhi’s re-commitment to a state sponsored cinema was initially a response to both the initial failure of the FFC since ‘no returns were coming in from the 30 odd films that had been financed since its inception seven years earlier’ …

INDIAN CINEMA 2013 – A Look Back

Pran, an icon of Hindi cinema, passed away in 2013. ‘Yahan kabootar bhi ek pankh se udta hai … aur doosre se apna izzat bachata hai.’      Here even the pigeon flies with one wing … and protects its honor with the other wing.       – Gangs of Wasseypur  It’s that time of year again when film canonisation rears its ugly head, pontificating at the greatest hits. The sheer deluge of best of lists makes it an almost impossible art to try and make sense of it all. I prefer the individual lists by critics, reviewers and bloggers as they pin down more esoteric tastes procured over the year. Sight and Sound is always first out of the end of year sprint to name and shame, and The Act of Killing seems to be popping up as number one with annoying regularity on many a lists. I initially had the film on my top ten but realised Upstream Colour seemed like a favourable substitution. The Act of Killing appearing as perhaps the …