Indian Cinema and Circus

Cinema also known as motion cinema, has evolved into a popular media since the latter part of 20th century. It has become a popular medium of entertainment because of its accessibility and relative inexpensiveness. It is worthwhile to be noted that Indian produces the maximum number of movies in the world.

Evolution of Indian cinema

  1. In 1896, the Lumière Brothers’ films were first shown in Mumbai
  2. India witnessed the first motion picture in the late 1910s and was introduced by late Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, also popularly known as Dada Saheb Phalke; through the film “Raja Harishchandra” (It was a silent film). He is also considered to be the “Father of Indian cinema”.
  3. It took nearly two years after Raja Harishchandra for the first motion picture with sound to release i.e Alam Ara directed by Ardeshir Irani
  4. The Indian cinematography law was passed in 1918. It provided for the licensing of cinema halls and censorship of indigenous and foreign films. The board of censors was established in the provinces beginning from 1920.
  5. The seed of colour cinema was also sowed through ‘Kisan Kanya’ directed by Moti B Gidwani in 1937.
  6. Indian filmmakers call the era after the end of British Raj as “The Golden Era” from the 1940s to the 1960s. This was the time when parallel cinema came into existence and Bengali filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and many more were the pioneers and major contributors
Did you know?
  • Parallel cinema, or New Indian Cinema, was a film movement in Indian cinema that originated in the state of West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to the mainstream commercial Indian cinema.
  •  Inspired by Italian Neo-realism, Parallel Cinema began just before the French New Wave and Japanese New Wave, and was a precursor to the Indian New Wave of the 1960s.
  • It is known for its serious content, realism and naturalism, symbolic elements with a keen eye on the sociopolitical climate of the times, and for the rejection of inserted dance-and-song routines that are typical of mainstream Indian Savkari Pash, Duniya Na Mane.
  1. The process of filmmaking has witnessed considerable progress over the years, even competing with films made in Hollywood. Ex: SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali.
  2. Every year hundreds of movies spanning every major language and region of our country are made for the viewing of the audience. These films include commercial and art cinemas too which have not only captivated the attention of domestic audience but also that of the international audience in recent times.
  3. Indian diaspora has also been a major contributor to the Indian cinema to hoist its flag over the global platform.
Additional info: Some important facts related to Indian cinema
  • India’s first cinemascope film is Kagaz ka Phool1959 by Guru Dutt.
  • India’s first 70 mm film is Around the World (Hindi) 1967 by Raj Kapoor.
  • Swarna Kamal (Golden Kamal) is the name of the award given to the best film of the year by the Government of India.
  • Adi Shankara directed by G.V. Iyer is the first Sanskrit film in India.
  • Sivaji Ganesan was the first Indian to win the Chevalier Award instituted by the French Government.
  • The first International Film Festival of India was held in 1952.
  • First Indian 3-D Picture is Malayalam cinema My Dear Kuttichathan.
  • Indians who won Oscar- Bhanu Athaiya, Satyajit Ray, Resul Pookutty, A.R. Rahman  and Gulzar.

Satyajit Ray


Important characteristics of Indian cinema

  1. Cinemas of all genres are produced in the country.
  2. Music and dance are an integral part of Indian cinema.
  3. Parallel cinema is as much an integral part of Indian cinema as commercial cinemas.
  4. The emphasis in recent times in Indian cinemas is on experimenting- on new roles, techniques, subjects and treatment. Films are being produced to reflect the contemporary social and political scene. Bollywood Movie Sherni reflects environmental issues.
  5. The growth in Indian cinemas in recent times is based on the growth of regional cinemas too which have been producing quality content cinemas. Malik and Great Indian Kitchen of Malayalam.
  6. Music in Indian films derives its melodies from three diverse sources- Indian classical music, folk music from different regions and Western classical and popular music.
  7. Dance in Indian films too derive its inspiration from the above three diverse sources.


Famous film awards in India

  • The Dadasaheb Phalke Awardis India’s highest award in the field of cinema. It is presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony by the Directorate of Film Festivals, an organisation set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Dadasaheb Palke award


  • Some of the other important film awards in India are- IIFA awards, Screen awards.
  • Each state in India has also its own set of state film awards.


Institutions in India associated with films industry in India

  1. Film division of India
    • Th Film Division was constituted in January 1948. Its HQ is located in Mumbai.
    • Films Division produces documentaries, short films, animation films and news magazines. 
    • The aim and objectives of the Division, focused on national   perspectives, are to educate and motivate people in the implementation of national programmes and to protect the image of the land and the heritage of the country to Indian and foreign audiences.
  1. Central Board of Film certification
    • It was set up under the Cinematograph Act 1952.
    • CBFC certifies films for public exhibition in India.
    • Its headquarters is in Mumbai.
    • It has nine regional offices in Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Cuttack, Guhawati, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram.
  1. National Film Development Corporation Limited (NFDC)
    • It was incorporated in 1975.
    • It was formed by the Government of India with the primary objective of planning and promoting an organized, efficient and integrated development of the Indian film industry.
  1. National Film archive of India
    • It was established as an independent media unit under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in February 1964 with the following aims and objectives
      • To trace, acquire and preserve for posterity the heritage of national cinema and build up a representative collection of World Cinema.
      • To classify and document data related to  film, undertake and encourage re- search on cinema and publish and dis-tribute them; and
      • To act as a centre for dissemination of film culture in the country and to ensure the cultural presence of Indian Cinema abroad.
  1. Directorate of Film festivals
    • It was setup under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 1973 with the prime objective of promoting good cinema.
    • The activities of Directorate of Film Festivals include:
    • The International Film Festival of India
    • The National Film Awards and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award
    • Cultural Exchange Programme and Organizing screening of Indian films through the mission abroad.
    • The selection of Indian Panorama.
    • Participation in international film festivals abroad.
    • Special film exposition of behalf of the Government of India
    • Print collection and documentation. These activities provide a unique platform for exchange of ideas, culture and experiences between India and other countries in the field of Cinema.
  1. Children’s Film Society
    • It is a nodal organisation of Government of India that produces children’s films and various TV programs in various Indian languages.
    • It was established in 1955.
    • CFSI functions come under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
    • It is headquartered in Mumbai.

Circus in India

A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, dancers, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, magicians, unicyclists, as well as other object manipulation and stunt-oriented artists.

Modern circus as described by Philip Astley (considered to be the father of Modern circus) started appearing in India since the 1880s. However, street performances similar to circuses have existed in India since ancient times

Circus in India


 Evolution of Modern India circus in India

  • In 1879, the Royal Italian Circus by Giuseppe Chiarini toured India.
  • Vishnupant Chatre bought most of the circus equipment from Chiarini. Within a year, he formed a new circus company called the Great Indian Circus. This is the first circus company in India.
  • In 1887 Priyanath Bosefrom Bengal founded the Great Bengal Circus and toured Bengal, India and South East Asia.
  • On February 2, 1904, the Malabar Grand Circus, the first circus company in Kerala state was inaugurated at Chirakkara under the leadership of Pariyali Kannan
  • Great Royal Circus was supposed to have started in 1909
  • In the year 1920, Baburao Kadam founded the Grand Bombay Circus.
  • Some of the other important circus established in India at a later point in time are- Gemini circus, Rajkamal circus, Jumbo circus etc


Circus- A dying art and industry in India

  • Circus is widely seen as a dangerous profession. So most families, even those who find it difficult to make both ends meet, are unwilling to send their young ones to join it.
  • The shoddy working environment and the poor conditions in which its animals were often kept is contributing to the declining trend of circus in India.
  • Amongst the common masses, there is a massive drop in popularity of circuses.
  • Ban of the use of wild animals has crippled the business. Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has canceled the recognition of all circuses in the country that force wild animals to perform tricks in the name of entertainment.
  • The amendment made to the Child labour act which prohibited circus companies from employing anyone under the age of 18 has also affected the industry since training artists at an older age might not yield dividends for the circus companies.
  • Sustaining oneself as a circus artist in India is also economically unviable.
  • The pandemic situation has further exacerbated the financial difficulties of the circus companies in India.