In India cinema is not just entertainment, it is a religion. Before films, people’s favorite pastime was stage plays. After that, English people introduced the film and bioscope in India. The Film “Flower of Persia “was released as a documentary in 1898 which was shot by Harilal Sen. Later, “The Wrestler” was released in 1899 by HS Bhatavedkar. He shot a film on the “wrestling match”. Both of them are considered as documentaries and both of them lack voice so considered silent film documentaries.
First film controversy in India:
A stage play named “Shree Pundaik ” was recorded in 1912 and processed in London, so a few people considered this one as the first film in Hindi however it wasn’t made in India, so not considered as the first Hindi film. After that, 1913, Dhada Sahib Phalke made a movie in the year 1913, on King Harishchandra. The film was named “Raja Harischandra” which was a silent film. The female characters were played by a male. “Keechaka Vadham” was made and released in Madras presidency. It was released as a silent movie in 1916.
The controversy doesn’t stop at the “silent movies” even the “first” controversy was there with talkie movies.
Telugu or Tamil?
In the north, Alam Ara was the first talkie in Hindi which was released in 1931 but in the south then there was a bilingual film “Kali Das” which was released in 1932. The Tamil people said that it was a Tamil film and the Telugu people called it as the first Telugu film because the technicians were Telugu people. However, due to many dialogues in Tamil, finally, it is considered as a Tamil Film. After that, the first Telugu film without the intervention of Tamil, “Bhakta Prahlada “was released in the same years with a few months difference in release and was commercially successful.
Madras, a junction for many film industries:
Tamil, Telugu films were made in Madras because Madras was the capital of the then Madras Province. On the other hand, Hindi films were made in the commercial capital Bombay. The reel for the filmmaking was very important and was expensive, so producers were very careful about the reel they used.
Alam Ara, Prudhvi Raj Kapoor and Zubeida and LV Prasad were lead actors. The films were shot in Kolhapur, Mumbai, and Kolkata. After that, in Madras, there were studios started for Telugu and Tamil films.
The expenses of the films in the 1930s had grown to one lakh rupees. Before that, the expenses were only 60 to 70 thousand rupees.
The Second World War effect on the Film industry:
There the effect of the second world was from 1941 and the reel was rationed and given very limited. Many film producers faced losses in the 1940s. There was much chaos due to the Second World War. We call our society patriarchal but in those days’ women used to get better remuneration than male actors.
At the beginning of the film industry, Bengali people produced the Hindi, Telugu and Tamil films also.
Many magazines prophesied that the film industries may ruin due to the rising fear of the Second World War. The basis of fear was Madras and Bombay, both were seashore cities and both were vulnerable to attack from axis forces as India was part of the British Empire. Right now, we know how the film industry has evolved. Southern Indian films and the Hindi Film industry have grown and become a major tax provider to the Indian Economy and one of the major employers.