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Category — Film History

Filmfare covers from the 1950s

1957 madhubala-filmfare-1957-magazine2 (1)Click on Wide Screen’s Facebook page for a random collection of Filmfare covers from the 1950s, found from various sources online:



August 6, 2013   No Comments  

100 Years of Indian Cinema: Whose Cinema? Whose Centenary? – The Politics of Temporal Film Historiography

Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error is a crucial
factor in the creation of a nation, which is why progress in historical
studies often constitutes a danger for [the principle of] nationality.
 —Ernest Renan,
Qu’est que c’est une nation? 

Quoting Ernest Renan, the famous British historian, Daniel Woolfe (2006), wrote not long ago that the national framework predominates in historiography and the temporal scope of the same is anchored along four premises. “…four variants of temporal scope. [Read more →]

August 5, 2013   1 Comment  

Last men standing

Harry Belafonte as the last man alive in The World, The Flesh and The Devil

Will Smith as the last man alive in I am legend

March 17, 2013   No Comments  

Early colour motion pictures

The world’s first colour motion picture was stumbled upon in the National Media Museum, Bradford last year


And Kodak’s earliest colour film:


March 17, 2013   No Comments  

The madness of Ram Gopal Varma?

Image of RGV with Surya

Ram Gopal Varma with Surya (Image from Wikimedia)

Ram Gopal Varma has been panned and flamed by critics for his mediocrity (here), being hysterical and gimmicky (here), and like the prodigal son who has lost his way (here). There is also the reported trading of insults between Karan Johar and RGV (here). The proverbial dirt from the laundry is all over the web for interested voyeurs to unravel. This post is not about what are considered RGV’s failures. While we are aware of his abilities to make thrillers and cult characters (Shiva, Satya, Company), his abilities in directing films that subtly poke fun at the “Indian film” without upsetting the “average viewer” are perhaps under-explored and with good reason. The background noise from his many films with the B conventions obscure his record in making some interesting comedy films that do not reduce filmmaking to a series of skits. Three films that come to my mind are Kshana Kshanam (Dir, Telugu) and Rangeela (Dir, Hindi) and Money (Prod, Telugu).

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March 17, 2013   No Comments  

Announcing the launch of CinemaofIndia.org

2013 promises to be an exciting year for Indian cinema as various groups and individuals are busy organizing interesting ways of commemorating the centenary of Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, arguably India’s first film. Ostensibly as a part of this celebration, I was recently informed about the launch of a new crowd-sourced encyclopedia of Indian cinema, called CinemaofIndia.org. The site is based on the Wiki-model and is designed and hosted by the brains behind the pad.ma archive.

Here’s a brief description provided by the hosts:

“This Wiki is based on Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen’s Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, a pioneering effort at documenting the history of cinema in India at a time when there were very few resources available and even fewer people working on the history of Indian cinema. There is now a much wider community of scholars, enthusiasts and cinephiles working on Indian cinema, and a much wider range of resources by way of films, DVDs, memorabilia and most importantly technology available that allow us to rethink how we may carry forward the encyclopedia project as a collaborative venture. The internet also allows us to link the original entries to images and movie clips thus housing an encyclopedia of cinema in the only environment that it was meant to be housed in: a multi-media environment. Ashish has very  generously offered us the encyclopedia as a starting point.”

The idea behind this project is to combine collective knowledge on various films, actors, directors, technicians etc by either creating new entries or adding to existing entries.

First-timers might need some help navigating the Wiki and figuring out how to get started. If you would like to contribute or get involved in some way, please contact Lawrence Liang lawrence@altlawforum.org or Ashish Rajadhyaksha  ashish@cscs.res.in
 For a few examples of entries which combine multi media please see the following

January 13, 2013   No Comments  

Pirating history

A few hours ago the Minister of Information and Broadcasting here in India, Ms Ambika Soni announced that on the occasion of hundred years of Indian cinema (which is next year by popular account), her ministry has assigned Rs. 500 crore  in the next five-year plan for setting up the National Heritage Mission that aims to digitize and restore all audio and video tapes of Indian films. While India faces a dire need to pay more attention to archiving its cinema history, this does seem an ambitious project. But here’s hoping it sees light of day.

Meanwhile, at a less official level, I recorded a ten-minute extract of the restored Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, ostensibly India’s first film. With cinema entering its 100th year, I would assume this film has long entered the free-copyright zone and will not land me into trouble. The aim of the arduous exercise of putting this clip on YouTube was to contribute yet another unofficial, barely legal bit to the enormous, free and pirate archive of cinema that is floating across media, particularly on the Internet. So here it is:

Read the entire press report here: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=83059

May 3, 2012   No Comments  

Edison’s place in Film History

A excerpt from the letter Henri Langlois wrote to the Edison National Historic Site to request Edison’s Kinetograph for his proposed Musée    du   Cinéma in Paris:

“On    the occasion of the inauguration of  the great  Musée    du   Cinéma  in   Paris,    the Cinémathèque  Française has  assembled an exhibition on  the origins  of the cinema, to which the principal foreign museums, English, German,  Austrian,  such as the  Smithsonian, have loaned  us the  prototype cameras that recount the history of the discovery of cinema. All these will be gathered together for several weeks in this exhibition, except that of Edison.  […] This causes me great distress, since I tell myself that this absence of the Edison camera will do harm to his memory and withhold, once again, his rightful place in the chronology. […] It is of such great importance for Edison that this camera is here, even if only for a few days. […] After  all, we were able to loan  the Mona Lisa, and she  did not suffer from her voyage.”

(6 May 1972)

From: Mannoni, Laurent. ‘Henri Langlois and the Musee du Cinema’ in Film History, Volume 18, pp. 274–287, 2006.

April 30, 2012   No Comments  

Still Magic: An Aladdin’s Cave of 1950s B-Movie Fantasy
by Rosie Thomas

Rosie Thomas’s essay on Indian B-movies of the 1950s that appeared on the Tasveer Ghar site. Click here to read it.

(Note: It is a five-page long essay, click on ‘Select page’ or ‘Next’ which will appear at the bottom right corner of the page.)


March 22, 2011   No Comments  

Early Tamil Cinema With Deleuze: The Case Of Cintamani (1937)

Last few weeks had been quite hectic as I was trying to connect early Tamil cinema with Deleuze’s notions of movement-image. I was preparing a paper for Dr Stephen Hughes’ (SOAS) seminar on “Early Tamil Cinema” held in Chennai during Feb.17-18,2011. Working on this paper meant working against the “limit” of Deleuzean notions contained in his Cinema I and II books, as pointed out by David Martin Jones. David Martin Jones’ “Towards Another ‘-Image’: Deleuze, Narrative Time and Popular Indian Cinema,” (Deleuze Studies 2 (1) 25-48) points to the limitation of the supposedly eurocentric approach of Deleuze’s Cinema I and II books in examining the case of Indian cinema. [Read more →]

February 20, 2011   1 Comment