Brief History of Hindi Cinema.

In the course of its long history, the Hindi Cinema has gone through constant evolutions and is still witnessing massive socio-cultural changes, however, from substantive and insular point of view; the Hindi Film Industry still retains its own unique and peculiar characteristics. Since the beginning, the Hindi Cinema has drawn its inspiration from the styles and aesthetics of the mega diverse Indian culture.

In general great emphasis has been put on classical Indian traditions over the years including Indian storytelling, epics, and poems and like. Although movies came to India in July 1896 as famous French Lumiere Brothers screened their short films in Watson Hotel, Mumbai, the first ever Indian film was ‘Raja Harishchandra’, a mythological film released in 1913 directed by Dada Saheb Phalke, who is often called as the father of Indian Cinema.

Film Poster of Raja Harishchandra, 1913.

Raja Harishchandra being a silent film had Hindi, Marathi and English interfiles. In 1905, filmmaker Hiralal Sen documented “Swadeshi Movement of India” and screened it at Town Hall, Calcutta on 22nd of September which is considered as India’s first political film. H.S. Bhatavdekar’s first movie and the first film by an Indian Filmmaker was shot in 1899 in which he shot a Wrestling Match in Mumbai’s Hanging Gardens. By the 1930s, the industry was producing 200 films per year and it was in 1931, the industry had its first sound film named ‘Alam Ara’ by director Ardeshir Irani which had a mixture of both Hindi and Urdu.

Alam Ara, India’s first Sound Film. (1931)

Since then the talkie films quickly were in high demand by the audience mostly in big cities and hence the industry permanently switched to sound films. The first ever Hindi color film was released in 1937 by Ardeshar Irani named “Kisan Kanya ”, however the colour films became popular among the audience only in late 1950s and early 1960s. The industry has also witnessed the breakdown of the studio system and complete on location shooting over the years. At present, Hindi Cinema produces over 1000 movies per year.

A still from Kisan Kanya (1937).

The Song and Dance Sequences

As mentioned earlier, the Hindi movies have always been a reflection of Indian culture and so hasn’t been any Hindi movie without a song till date. Two of the major characteristics of Hindi Cinema are songs and dance sequences. In fact, these two unique features are considered as the ‘peculiarities’ of Hindi Cinema which separates it from Hollywood or any other foreign film industry. In earlier times whenever there was a requirement of steamy scenes in movies, the protagonists, that is the hero and the heroine used to indulge into a song and dance sequel. The song and dance sequences pop up here and there according to necessary requirements and situations. The 1932 movie Indra Sabha was one of the first Indian movies with over 70 songs.

Film Poster of Indra Sabha (1932).

Truly, Hindi Cinema has entertained audiences worldwide for more than a century now. Informally and popularly known as Bollywood, Hindi Films will always have a special place in hearts of millions of Bollywood fans!

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