22 November 2012

Indian Cinema between Calcutta and Bombay

During the nineteenth century, writers, social reformers and intellectuals in India fought the impact of colonialism by turning aggressively to their own cultural traditions, even if in some cases it meant the unconscious absorption, and the duplication, of attitudes introduced and perpetuated by the colonizers themselves. An analogous situation developed in the persistence of certain 'high-cultural' attitudes to the cinema in the early years after independence. Parag Amladi has called it the 'All India/Regional film paradigm' in which the cinema of a particular region, Bengal in this instance, and the films of Satyajit Ray in particular, was seen as the genuine thing and culturally rooted, while the Bombay film came to be regarded as un-Indian, escapist and extravagant. Indian film criticism seems to provide a cracked mirror-image of the 'nationalist' debates and conflicts of definition.