By Kush Varia

While we have now get to grips with the belief of "Bollywood" right here within the West, we all know little concerning the industry's motion pictures past a undeniable occasion of kitsch. Bollywood, the newest in Wallflower Press's brief Cuts introductory sequence, surveys this type of filmmaking from its origins in colonial occasions to the current, tracing its impression on either the Indian and worldwide mind's eye. Chapters discover the background and workings of the undefined, the narratives and aesthetics of its movies, forms in the style, the cultural connotations of particular characters, its larger-than-life stars, and its hybrid and unbelievable fan cultures. Readings of well known and largely to be had movies illustrate the significance of the cinema's conventions, which diversity from romantic clichés to a continuing negotiation among culture and modernity.

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This would have been particularly important in poor and rural areas with low levels of literacy. Indian experiments with synchronised sound began in 1930 with the release of a film of Gandhi at a pro-independence cottage industry (khadhi) exhibition (see Rangoonwalla 1975: 75–6). India’s first sound feature film was Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara (1931), an all-singing all-dancing spectacle. Its production demonstrates the way in which the industry could also produce films for Indian audiences regardless of regional, linguistic and religious differences.

3 CASE STUDY: A Throw of Dice (Franz Osten, 1929) / Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (R. V. Shantaram, 1945) These two films demonstrate the tension between creating a cinema with national relevance and one which would appeal to international audiences. A Throw of Dice deserves special mention as it is one of the few silent films produced in India that is widely available. An Indian, German and British co-production with director Franz Osten (formerly of EMELKA studios in Germany), it was the third in a series of films beginning with Light of Asia (1925), based on the life of the Buddha, followed by Shiraz (1928), based on the love between the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his Queen Mumtaz, for whom he built the Taj Mahal.

The criticism of modernity in Do Bigha Zamin was at odds with post-colonial India’s political ambitions. In 1951, Nehru launched his five-year plan to increase the use of mechanised technology, including the building a series of dams which he saw as the ‘temples of modern India’. The lack of direct government regulation of distributors and exhibitors allowed these sectors to hold the industry hostage through loans offered to producers. Madhava Prasad, who considers that the consensus has remained unchanged, explains the process concisely as the minimum guarantee system which is supposed to assure the producer a minimum return of on each film, is also not as favourable to producers as it appears.

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