A centenary of Indian Cinema
Today marks the official birthday of Indian Cinema. A century ago, on 3 May 1913, audiences in India were introduced to Dadasaheb Phalke’s ground-breaking Raja Harishchandra. The 40-minute long black and white silent film, based on the legend of King Harishchandra had a dose of humour, drama, romance and intrigue; just like the elements of a popular masala movie today, setting a precedent for what was to come.
The industry produces a staggering average of 1000+ feature films a year (twice the annual production of Hollywood) but annual revenues of Bollywood films are still only a fraction at 10% of the (£19 billion) generated by Hollywood. Yet, the stars of the Indian silver screen, such as the inimitable Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Shan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan are arguably more famous than their Hollywood counterparts in homes all around the world.
Bollywood acting legend and industry insider Kajol, has, along with contemporaries such as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, become one of the industry’s biggest icons. Talking about the birthday, she said: ‘The fact that our industry has not only survived, but has, in fact, thrived over the last century speaks volumes. I am grateful for the fact that I am here, at this time, and able to be even a small part of its fantastic accomplishments. From the first black and white film to modern-day 3D cinema, we have certainly come a long way. Whether Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan or even myself, we are known the world over due to the profession we are in – there is no corner of the world that Bollywood has not touched! And we have a 100 glorious years behind us to prove it.’
Adds Suhel Seth, India’s leading marketing guru and managing partner of Counselage India: ‘This anniversary is not just 100 years of celebrating Indian Cinema... it is indeed a century of the influence that good Indian cinema has had on audiences around the world.’
As part of the celebrations this year’s Cannes Film Festival will have a strong Bollywood contingent while the BBC Asian Network are conducting a poll to find out the nation’s favourite Bollywood song.
However you are celebrating, we hope you have a very filmi occasion!