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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Regional Cinema in India

India is a large country where many languages are spoken. According to the 1991 Census of India there are about 10,400 'raw mother tongues' in India.If closely related and mutually comprehensible dialects are grouped, the number can be reduced to 114 main languages. These 114 languages are the ones surveyed in the Indian census. Indian film producers have made films in thirty of the largest languages. However, only the very largest language groups support major regional industries. These are: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, Odiya & Malayalam. Official statistics categories Indian films according to the languages in which they are distributed.

Masala movies are made both in regional and Bollywood film industry. But regional films constitute of high percentage in parallel cinema. The regional cinema, obviously in majority formed the alternate cinema. Ever since the decline of regional cinema throughout the nation, and the dying out of the parallel movement, the viewers have been feed with repeated image, sound and music. Indians do not watch movies made in other part of India itself but able to watch latest flick of Hollywood. Why?

Firstly, I personally don’t think language should pose a problem but it does, not a lot of work has been done when it comes to movies. Frankly people need to get over this as subtitling as an art has really developed. Still people are irritated & afraid at the though of reading subtitles. If we can watch Japanese, Chinese and Iranian films with subtitles, we can watch home productions too. If subtitles are available there is no issue in watching good regional films. Subtitles are not easily available for any films and it’s not easy for everyone to get access to any foreign or regional films through P2P or torrent client.

Secondly, film education is nonexistent in India. If we were to educate people in films studies Bollywood masala films might just be a subject of history. I believe that a lot of good regional films are not of excellent production (technical) quality like Hollywood or Bollywood. That is also where they score less... but unless regional filmmakers find financial backing, it is very difficult for them to produce good production quality.

Lastly Media has glorified Hollywood and Bollywood. Regional films are not given so much coverage in the media slots. The marketing and distribution system is under developed. The major problem is being lack of availability not due to the fact that such movies don’t exist but because they are not marketed properly.

Indian Cinema is thriving today thanks to an audience who is hungry for films, however, our works have degraded over the years, and regional cinema and few great filmmakers are marginalized to the film festival or art house circuits. Most of us had used to watch regional films on DD on Sundays. With the advent of cable and dish culture, the regional cinema has suffered huge setback. There is no information either in the print or electronic media about regional films.

Language Barrier:

Language controversy has nothing to do with the topic which is primarily a problem of socio-economic & cultural conditioning in which media is responsible to a great extent. Regardless of the language, a film is a film and must be regarded as a work of art. Some films are language less, soundless but are classics. The point is only this that statistics cannot determine quality of a film and regardless of how many people speak a language, a language is a means of communication and nobody can decide on a superior and inferior language.

A good movie is a good movie whether it’s being made in Hindi or Tamil or other foreign languages. But many talented directors like Hriskesh mukherjee, Basu chatterjee, Shyam benegal made many films in Hindi the reason being that it reaches over to larger audience. Many good directors make movies in Hindi or English irrespective of their mother tongues. Even legendary Satyajit ray made a film 'satranj ke khiladi' in Hindi.

I am saying Hindi is just like any other language and is grammatically similar to all devnagiri languages. The point here being that when someone puts his efforts in making a film it’s quite logical he expects it to reach more audience. I'm not getting into this language debate.Back to movies!!!

Obsession with Bollywood/Hollywood(Studied from above Link)
"Our bureaucracy and the ruling class (irrespective of political affiliations) are mesmerized by the glamor and dazzle of Bollywood, quite ignorant of the fact that it is the strength regional cinema primarily that the true picture /reality our vast country is reflected or represented. No doubt I.F.F.I. was shifted from New Delhi to Goa to create a carnival atmosphere on the lines of Cannes film festival oblivion of the fact that evolution, nature & utility of the two are entirely different. Besides after 200 years of domination by the Anglo-Saxons culture we still in our subconscious mind feel whatever comes from foreign/ Hollywood is superior(though technologically they are, yet cinema is not only about technology). "

Even Satyajit Ray’s "Pather Panchali" was appreciated only after it got recognition from abroad. A new and independent thinking pattern is needed with clever marketing strategy for upheavel of regional films.There is huge growth in overseas market of indian films. It provides basic investment needed for people working in regional film industry to move to other regions. Now, the good point is mobility and exchange of technical crews and artist with different regional background. There is a great deal of mobility between the regional industries. Many workers in other regional industries, once their talent and popularity is established, move on to work in other film industries, nationally as well as internationally.

In end, simply it’s just that not a lot of smart people have invested themselves in this marketing and commercial aspect of film industry.


  1. interesting an informative!
    hey! cant seem to find any sharing engine on ur blog. y dnt u put up something like Tell-a-Friend so that visitor like me can easily share ur articles with frens thru mails,IMs,blogs,socialnetworking sites etc...u cn simply register on check it out :)

  2. Great Info but try to write so much details in 2 parts so that it will be really easy to read such a big article. Anyways great Info.

  3. Will remember your advice 'IFM.BLOGSPOT'

  4. very informative. i have just started learning film and it really is fascinating.

  5. @Renita, I have written this article as a naivete cinephile about cinema. Thanks for appreciation !

    If you require any online reading material on cinema , then you can reply back here !



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