The Indian New Wave, commonly known in India as ‘Art Cinema’ or ‘Parallel Cinema’ as an alternative to the mainstream commercial cinema. It emerged as a reaction to the popular cinema. From the start it opposed all popular dictates…. escapism, stars, the mass audience and an autocratio distribution system.
The directors of the new India Cinema work to control everything. They shoot on real locations, often with 16mm camera, more economical and flexible, allowing the film to be blown upto 35mm for commercial release.
For the young film makers who wished to break away from the mainstream commercial cinema. A significant contributing factor in the emergence of new cinema in India was the Government – controlled Film Finance Corporation (FFC) now the National Film Development which took a calculated risk in funding young film makers. A loans of Rs. 3 to 5 lakhs to technically qualified persons who produced a good script. But who had little or no previous film experience.
The parallel or new cinema movement began in the 1969 with Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome, Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti and Basu Chatterji’s Sara Akash. These were made in Hindi and a advantage of being the most widely understood language of the country. It was an exciting time with the discovery of much need young talents between 1969 to 1990.
Following six Directors of New Wave Cinema really made difference to Hindi Film Industry (Mumbai).
Shyam Benegal (born – 1934) Benegal started his career as an advertising executive in Bombay, making a dozen of advertising films and award-winning documentaries before his path-breaking Ankur (1974), which is said to have triggered off the parallel Hindi cinema movement. This was followed by other triumphs of creative and social realisztion as Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976), Junoon (1978), Arohan (1983) and Mandi (1983). His film Zubeidaa (2000), after Mammo (1995) and Sardari Begum, completed his trilogy on the spirit of women battling tough socio-political circumstances. Benegal is credited with introducing many new actors and actresses to Indian cinema – Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Supriya Pathak. Selected filmography: Ankur (1973); Nishant (1975); Manthan, Bhumika (1976); Junoon (1978); Kalyug(1980); Aarohan (1982); Mandi (1983); Trikal (1985); Suraj Ka Satwaan Ghoda (1992). On August 8 2007, he was awarded the highest award in Indian cinema for lifetime achievement, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2005. He has won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi seven times.
Mani Kaul (born 1944) Mani Kaul graduated from the Film and Television Institute, Pune, in 1966. His first feature film (1969), Uski Roit, was a brilliant work. In the context of the time when it was make, it was startlingly original. Duvidha, based on a Rajasthani folk tale, should be generally admired as a visual delight. Duvidha and Uski Roti are the best of Mani Kaul’s work and two of the finest and most original films of Indian cinema. After Duvidha, Kaul’s first fiction narrative/non narrative film was Nazar (1989). The structure and perspective of the film is based on an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s A Gentle Creature. In Nazar, Mani Kaul systemtically explored the complex relationship between literary structure and cinema. Dostoevsky was also the director’s inspiration for another film. The Idiot (1992). Main Kaul says: “It was not just the text of The Idiot to which I related while making the film; it was rather to how Dostoevsky wrote the novel.” The result is a fascinating blend of formal excitement and dramatic intensity. Most of his films have not been commercially released in India, thought they have won high praise and awards – nationally and internationally. Mani Kaul is an avid painter. The National Museum of Modern Art in New Delhi has a Mani Kaul painting on exhibit. He describes his style as abstract. Selected Filmogaphy: Uski Roti (1969); Ashad Ka Ek Din (1971); Duvidha (1973); Satah Se Uthata Admi (1980); Dhrupad (1982); Mati Manas (1984); Siddheshwari (1989); Nazar; The Indio (1991).
Ketan Mehta (born (1952) – Born in Navsari, Gujarat. An economics graduate from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi. A student in directing at FTII, Pune, 1972-1975. Ketan Mehta completed his first feature film Bhavni Bhavai by 1980. It was a cinematice event. The structure of his film, his technical skill and the radicalism of his ideas marked him out as one of the most exciting directors in the 1980s. It is an amazingly original work. According to Ketan Mehta: “Form by itself is not sacrosanct. Different forms are necessary to communicate different messages.” Mehta’s next film is Holi (1984). The entire film takes place in one real day. Mirch Masala (1986), in which Mehta returns to his native Gujarat, earned him both critical acclaim and commercial success. He won three National Awards. Recent films include: the adaptation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary called Maya Memsahib (1992) and the biographical film on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (Sardar). His output has been somewhat uneven in quality. Selected Filmography: Bhavni Bhavai (1980); Holi (1983)’ Mirch Masala )1985); Hero Hiralal (1988); Maya Memsahib (1992); Sardar (1993); Oh Darling Yeh Hai India (1995).
Saeed Akhtar Mirza (born 1943) A graduate in Film Direction from FTI, Pune, Mirza has been a vociferous spokesman for the New Cinema movement in India. He made his first film, Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Daastan, in 1978 with a non-narrative structure. The film portrayed the alienation of an upper middle-class urban youth. His second film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, made in 1980, dealth with problems faced by a minority community in secular India, Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho! Was made in 1984. Mirza has also made tow very successful television serials and a number of documentaries on social problems. Mohand Joshi Haazir Ho (1984) is a satire on public housing policies and extended and costly litigation recognizing, ultimately, the invulnerability of the economic establishment while Salim Langde pe Mat Ro (1989) is set in a working class Muslim locality in Bombay. Mirza’s Naseem (1995) is a very pleasant human-interest story about the domestic ups and downs of a Muslim family in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1992. Selected Filmography: Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastan (1978); Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai (1981); Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (1983); Salim Langde Pe Math Ro (1989); Naseem (1995).
Govind Nihalani (born 1940) Born in Karachi. He began his career as a cinematographer after graduating from the Shri Jayachamrajendra Polytechnic, Bangalore, in 1962. He then worked with the photographer V.K. Murthy for ten years. He went on to become a leading advertising film cameraman. Nihalani’s first role in feature filmmaking was in 1970 as the producer of Satyadev Dubey’s Marathi film Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe! He formed a rewarding partnership with director Shyam Benegal for whom he photographed several documentaries and ten features including Junoon for which he won the National Award for Best Color Cinematography in 1979. His first feature film, Akrosh (1980), was one of the most powerful Indian films of the 1980s. Akrosh originated from a real life incident narrated to Nihalani by playwright Vijay Tendulkar. Nihalani’s second film, Vijeta (1982), was by comparison a major disappointment. Nihalani was soon back in shape with Ardh Satya (1983) in which he took politically sensational topics and turned them into individual dilemmas.
Accordingl to Govind Nihalani: “Most of my films are my responses to the contemporary realities in the country”. His TV serial ‘Tamas,’ (1989), set during partition, proved controversial and resulted in a court ruling asserting the right to freedom of expression. His films have won several awards. Drohakaal (1995) won him the Best Director Award at Damascus 1995. Mother of 1084 (Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma, 1997) is based on Mahaswete Devi’s novelia. Deham (Body 2002), India’s first sci-fi movie, based on Manjula Padmasnabhan’s futuristic play Harvest, is among the most important films of Govind Nihalani. His work is gaining international recognition.
Kumar Shahani (born 1940) – Born in Larkana, Sind (now Pakistan). He graduated from the FTII, Pune, in 1966. Also student of the historian and anthropologist D.D. Kosambi, Shahani won a French Government Scholarship to Paris in 1968. His first feature film, Maya Darpan, won a special mention at the Locamo Film Festival in 1978. Innovators are rarely honoured in the land of their birth. And, if honour comes to them, it is often a belated recognition, grudgingly given. Despite the lavish praise it received abroad, Maya Darpan met with hostile reception in India. Critics panned it for its excessively languid pace. Others found the film to European in its sensibility. After eleven years Kumar Shahani made Tarang. The film deals with the tensions of a modern industrial family.
He relays a bitter tale with humor and pathos. Kasda (1990) is a melodrama about a wealthy family. The subject is power and struggle. The Khayal (Khayal Gatha, 1989) an intensity beautiful film about music, defies all rules about “documentary.” Shahanai studied music and film-making in Paris where he worked as Bresson’s assistant on Une Femme douce.
His Char Adhay (Four Paths) is adapted from Rabindranath Tagore’s story. It is a tale of love and violence played out against the background of the terrorist phase of the Indian freedom struggle. Set in the ‘30s, the film sets up disturbing resonances with present times. He is one of the most respected intellectuals and theoreticians of Indian cinema. He has written extensively on cinema.
The 1969-90 period in general was notable for its wealth of acting talents. The high quality of New Cinema in those two decades could not have been sustained without strong back-up from the other contributors to the film making process, Set Designer, Cinematographer, music and directors. Also new cinema was given wide coverage in the media.
Each of it’s leading directors, except few, went on to a successful individual career within the established commercial industry.