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.
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.
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:)