Experimental techniques in Parallel Cinema

Indian Parallel Cinema originated in West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to Mainstream Cinema. The characteristics of Parallel Cinema are serious content, realism and neutralism. Parallel Cinema primarily focuses on the socio-political situation of the country. It leans away from the routine dance-song sequence that’s typical of Mainstream Cinema.

Parallel Cinema in India
Parallel Cinema in India

Influence of Italian Neorealism on Indian Parallel Cinema

It was Italian Neorealism that influenced the origination of Parallel Cinema in India. In 1945 Italy was liberated from German occupation. Italian Cinema started afresh as the shooting studios were damaged and funds were drastically reduced. The experiment with Neorealism in Cinema received a good response in Italy. It involved shooting at the locations, ditching the expensive studio sets. The real issues of the common man got a voice through Neorealism in Italian Cinema.

Other than Italian Neorealism, revolutionary Bengali literature and theatre also contributed to the development of Parallel Cinema in India.

Influence of Bengali Literature in Parallel Cinema

1) The era after the British Raj is known as The Golden Era of Indian Cinema. (1940s to 1960s). During this period, many filmmakers like  Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha produced internationally recognised cinematic wonders. These were the filmmakers who wanted to utilize cinema as more than just a source of entertainment. The enlightened souls knew the real power of cinema to address a large number of people in a short time.

2) I would like to give an example of Pather Panchali, the Bengali drama film by Satyajit Ray based on the Bengali book by the same name. It is the first in the famous Apu Trilogy–  Pather Panchali (1955),  
Aparajito (1956) and The World of Apu (1959). The film is the story of the childhood of the protagonist Apu, his sister Durga and the harsh village life of their poor family. It was completed in three years because the shooting was done at the locations and not at the film sets. The music of Apu trilogy was composed by Pt Ravi Shankar.

* All three films in Apu Trilogy are considered the best work of Indian Cinema to date. These films were produced on a budget of only Rs.150,000/. They won major prizes at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice Film Festivals.

Satyajit Ray - Parallel Cinema in India
Satyajit Ray – Parallel Cinema in India

3) More masterpiece are:

* Dharti Ke Lal (1946), a film about the Bengal famine of 1943 by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas.

* Neecha Nagar (1946), a film directed by Chetan Anand and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas that won the Grand Prize at the first Cannes Film Festival.

* Some art films were also successful at the box office. Bimal Roy’s ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ was one of them. It also won the prestigious award at The Cannes Film Festival.

* Mani Kaul’s several films Uski Roti (1971), Ashadh Ka Ek Din (1972),  Duvidha (1974) etc earned the International spotlight.

* Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (1974) was also a success at the box office and appreciated by the critics.

Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Amol Palekar, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Pankaj Kapoor, Deepti Naval, Farooq Shaikh were the famous actors who popularized Parallel Cinema.

Trivia question of the day!

Guess the movie from this clue:

"An Indian commando goes undercover in a college to foil a terrorist plot."
The one who gives the fastest and the correct answer will be given a special mention in the next post on Bollywood Gossip!

The answer to the question asked in the previous post is 'Ajit' and the winner is Ms Deepika Sharma! Congratulations:)

This post is written as a part of Blogchatter’s A2Z challenge.

20 thoughts on “Experimental techniques in Parallel Cinema”

  1. I love parallel/ art cinema a lot, especially players like shyam benegal, saeed mishra, aparna sen, shabana aazmi, naseerruddin shah and works of satyajit ray, mrinal sen, tapan sinha to name a few. Such movies didnt had fanciful scenes, or sensationalism and had toned down color pallette and formalist editing patterns. Even though they bought a new wave to cinema, audience were limited. They were more of social critique but I found them more realistic hence love them.


  2. Parallel cinema has given some extremely wonderful movies and artists to the industry. Thanks for bringing it to the limelight. The movies mentioned by you are real examples of great artwork. Haven’t watched all of them but have always appreciated the essence and grace they hold.


  3. yes parallel cinema has its own magic and there are many wonderful actors who had done incredible work in parallel cinema. there were so many new facts in the post. you did really good research on this subject.


  4. I am a lover of parallel cinema; some movies from the list are my all-time favorite list, like mirch masala. Parallel cinema has a different fanbase.


  5. I haven’t seen any of these. Thanks for this wealth of information.

    I love letter X posts! Always such variety.
    It’s hard to believe the blogging challenge is almost over for 2021. Then the after survey, reflections, and the road trip sign-up.
    Plus, I’m taking part in the Bout of Books read-a-thon in May. So much excitement!
    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congratulations on the completion of the AtoZ series!
      Yes, I agree that X posts need a lot of creativity;)
      Good luck for your ventures 🤩


  6. Indian art cinema differs sharply from popular films which are more commonly known as the commercial flicks. The conceptual notion of art cinema though differs from being one of the fuzziest to one of the contradictory topics ever touched upon. They are realistic, often ethnographic, and they seek to capture important aspects of Indian reality. By and large, they avoid glamour and glitz and use cinema as an artistic medium capable of exploring important areas of Indian experience.


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