Cinema is a very popular medium of entertainment. The cinema stories provide that recreation that an educated person gets through books. There may impossibilities and improbabilities in the stories, but ordinary theater-goers do not bother about them. When his favourite actor or actress appears on the screen, he enjoys himself. He forgets his sorrows and tribulations. The humorous dialogues, dances and melodious songs give him great delight. The lovely scenery of various places in the country and abroad is a feast for the eyes.
The cinema educates the public. The life of a great historical figure filmed will be much more enlightening than the facts mentioned in history. We shall be able to appreciate a Shakespearean play much better if we see it on the screen. The films showing the habits of animals, insects, fishes, the symptoms of various diseases are very instructive. The films showing the necessity of national integration and the undesirability of social evils like dowry are highly beneficial.
The cinema influences our manners and fashions. It is rather difficult to find anyone today beyond the influence of the cinema. Even in remote villages, one can see styles which would never have been heard of before the arrival of cinema.
The documentary film is obviously the true film. It does not show any artificial or exaggerated situation. There are a few examples of great fictional feature films, which are to some extent realistic also because their stories are set against natural back-ground.
The average feature films often ignore most of the major problems of life. They encourage people to forget them. Such films are called escapist. They are very popular with the people. This is due to the fact they help them to forget the difficulties of everyday life and to relax.. To enable them to do this, it is obvious that the screen stories must not be too closely related to life. This escapism seems justifiable when we first think of it, but it does not help in the long run because one cannot escape from life. The most intelligent directors and script writers see that there is often drama, heroism, suspense and humour in the lives of ordinary people and they show these in their films. They give us stories in which we can recognize the sort of people that we can believe. Millions like us was that sort of film. Truly’ great film is the kind that will help us to escape from real life and meet with the truth, face to face, and help us to understand life better.
A large number of Indian films have made a place in the annals of the .cinema history in the world. Sant Tukaram by Damb Eatehal in 1937 became the first Indian film to gain international recognition when it was shown as one of the three best films at the International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art. Individually, Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali won the Golden Palm in 1956. Ray is acknowledged as a world master in cinema and the International Film. Guide lists him as one of the top international directors.
Mughal-e-Azarn by K. Asif, Do Bigha Zatnin by Bimal Roy and Mehboob Khan’s Mother India proved among the best in the world cinema when they were, made in the fifties and sixties.
The film that created one of the greatest stirs in commercial circles was the 1975 block-buster Sholay by Rainesh Sippy, which ran in one theatre in Mumbai for five years.
Raj Kapoor.has also brought, a lot of attention to Indian cinema. His Chaplin style in the early films like Awara, Aah, Aag or Anari or even his later, autobiographical Mera Naam Joker, made him a world figure, and people outside the country still hum songs from his early films. This actor-film maker created a record of sorts in 1971 when he made Kal, Aaj our Kal under the direction of his son Randhir Kapoor, by making it the first Indian film having three generations of the same family acting in a single film — Prithiviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor and-Randhir Kapoor.
Through the years, Indian films have gone on to win hundreds of awards in the country and abroad. But the first film to be declared the :best fifm outside the country was The Light of Asia in 1926, while Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar was the first talkie to win an international award, the Grand Prix, at Cannes in 1947. Baburao Painter became the first Indian to be acclaimed for film-making, when Lokmanya Tilak conferred the title of ‘Cinema Kesari’ on him in 1919.
In 1984, the Malayalam film Kuttichathan became the first Indian three-dimensional film, and was dubbed in other languages as well. India’s first Technicolor film had been Sairandhri by the Prabhat Film Company in 1933, and the country’s first video film came in August 1981, when B. R. Chopra made Teri Merl Kahani.
The contribution made by Shantaram, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Mahesh Bhatt, Prakash .Tha, Mrinal Sen and Adoor Gopalakrishnan to the Indian cinema is also great. There are also many others who have enriched our cinema.
The Indian cinema gives employment to about 2.5 million people and yields over five thousand million rupees a year by way of entertainment tax and ten thousand million rupees as other taxes to the public exchequer.