Top 100 – The first steps of Indian Cinema (Part 3)
Awara (1951) kick started ‘The Golden Age’ of Hindi cinema. A decade of innovation, social concern, passionate writing and iconic films. Old war horses like Shantaram and Mehboob rode on strong as fresh blood including Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, B R Chopra and K A Abbas was baptized.
Parallel cinema was yet to be invented, the trio of Dilip-Dev-Raj were household names and the government did its best to strangulate movies by unfair levies. Most productions recovered their cost, rural India had not yet fallen off the screen and the general atmosphere was characterized by the film industry being a ‘one big family’, where people over stepped their comfort zone to help a friend in need. A few firsts from that era:
51. CBFC: Formation of the first Central Board of Film Censors of Independent India. B.N. Sircar of New Theaters was on the Board.
52. IFFI: Sponsored and organized by The Films Division of India, the First International Film Festival of India held for two weeks in Bombay starting January 24, 1952.
53. Orchestrated: Music director Naushad used a 100-piece Orchestra for the music of ‘Aan’ (1952, Dir: Mehboob Khan) thus changing the dynamics and budget of music production.
54. Technicolor: ‘Jhansi ki Rani’ (1953, Dir: Sohrab Modi) was our first with aid of foreign technicians.
55. National Film Award: Introduced in 1954 by the Govt of India. First President’s Gold Medal for the best film: Shyamchi Aai, (1953 Dir: P K Atre).
56. And the Filmfare goes to: The Filmfare Awards introduced on March 21, 1954 (and called the Clare Awards then named after the TOI editor, Clare Mendonca) presented to Do Bigha Zameen (best film), Bimal Roy (best director), Dilip Kumar (best actor, Daag), Meena Kumari (best actress, Baiju Bawra) and Naushad (best music, Baiju Bawra).
57. Exempted: ‘Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje’ (1956, Dir: V Shantram) the first exempted from entertainment tax.
58. Back in the USSR: The Soviet Government held the first week-long Overseas Indian film festival in 1956 at three different cities showcasing 6 features and 11 documentaries. For the next 40 years Russians sang ‘Mera joota hai Japani’ on the streets.
59. Bhai Bhai: Following the successful festival, ‘Pardesi’ (1957, Dir: K A Abbas) became the first Indo-Russian Co-production in Hindi and Russian.
60. Honor: Nargis became the first Indian artist to win best actress award for Mother India at the Karlovy Vary Festival in 1958.
61. Trilogy: Satyajit Ray’s Bengali Apu trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar) completed between 1955 and 1959.
62. Panoramic: ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959, Dir: Guru Dutt) shot by V K Murthy, first cinema scope B & W film.
‘Pyar ki Pyaas’ (1961, Dir: Mahesh Kaul) the first in cinema scope in color.
63. Govt. Duty: Excise Duty levied on release prints for the first time in India on 01-Apr-1960, the first govt. in the world to do so, thus bleeding the film industry even further.
64. Widescreen: Shiela Theater, Delhi the first equipped with 70 mm facilities. Inaugurated on 12 Jan 1961.
65. Baton Exchange: Seven songs composed by nine music directors including Fakir Ahmad, Satta Raj, Raj Bhushan, Brij Bhushan and Shyam Babu. Film: Pathaan (1962), the maximum MD’s for any film.
66. Single handed: Yaadein (1964, Dir: Sunil Dutt) was the First One-Actor One-Set Film.
67. Cinema Verite: Aasman Mahal (1965, Dir: K A Abbas) was entirely shot on location, without any artificially constructed set.
68. Prima Donna: The Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award instituted in 1966. Government sponsored annual award honors the significant contributions to Indian Cinema. Devika Rani became the first recipient.
69. Magsaysay: Satyajit Ray was the first person from the Cinema industry honored with this Award in 1967.
70. 70 mm: Around the World (1967, Dir: Pachchi) *ing Raj Kapoor and Rajshri (not shot natively but blown up in lab). Also first film with stereophonic sound.
71. Breathless: With a running time of 105 mins, ‘Ittefaq’ (1969, Dir: Yash Chopra) had no interval.
72. Indo – Persian JV: ‘Subh o Sham’ (1970, Dir: Bhim Singh) *ing Sanjeev Kumar and Waheeda Rehman, combined with an Iranian cast, was first Indian film shot entirely in Iran.
73. Scary Movie: ‘Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neechay’ (1972, Dir: Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay) the first bonafide horror film, differentiating it from noir chillers like ‘Kohra’ and ‘Bees Saal Baad’.
74. Five year plan: ‘Sholay’ (1975, Dir: Ramesh Sippy) released. Makes history by playing for more than 5 years at Minerva theatre in Bombay.
75. The Emperor: In 1977, Director Manmohan Desai achieved a feat never since equalled in the world. He released four films in a calendar year and all were major hits: ‘Chacha Bhatija’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, ‘Dharam Veer‘ and ‘Parvarish’.