GLOBALIZATION AND THE ROOTS OF INDIAN CINEMA

November 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Asia, Film, Globalization, History, India, Research | Leave a comment

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Globalization and the Roots of Indian Cinema

According to Carl-Erdmann Schofeld’s article in the October 1995 Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, in 1926 India boasted some 300 movie houses as well as traveling film exhibitors catering to viewers outside of major city centers….

See “A Throw of Dice” Film Notes by Bruce Bennett, Kino

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

Published four times a year the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television is the leading international journal for media history. The journal examines the history of audio-visual media and its impact on the political, social and cultural developments of the twentieth century.

The journal also provides an international forum for historians, social scientists, archivists and others with a special interest in the development of mass communications. A refereed academic periodical dedicated to publishing papers of the highest academic quality, the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television also keeps its readers up to date with topical issues and acts as a point of focus for interdisciplinary debate.

Content
Contents include: research articles, book reviews and review essays, historical documents, reports of conferences, inter-disciplinary debates of topical issues, developments in audio-visual media in teaching all levels of history, annual listings of dissertations and archival materials, reviews of films, radio and television programmes of historical or educational importance.

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The journal of The International Association for Media and History

ISSN: 1465-3451 (electronic) 0143-9685 (paper)

Publication Frequency: 4 issues per year

Subjects: Film History; History; Media & Film Studies; Media History; Radio; Television;

Publisher: Routledge

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

Niranjan Pal (17 August 1889 – 9 November 1959)

(17 August 1889 – 9 November 1959) was a playwright, screenwriter and director in the Indian film industry in the silent and early talkie days. He was a close associate of Himanshu Rai and Franz Osten, with whom he was a founding member of Bombay Talkies.

Biography

Born on 17 August 1889 in Calcutta, West Bengal, Niranjan Pal was born in an illustrious family, his father was the noted freedom fighter, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Niranjan himself as a teenager was briefly involved in the Indian freedom struggle during an association with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Madanlal Dhingra in London. By the late 1910s, he started writing and eventually wrote The Light of Asia and Shiraz, both of which were performed on stage in London. Both were commercially successful and attracted the attention of German filmmaker Franz Osten, who made screen versions in India. Himanshu Rai, then a lawyer, also acted in one of Niranjan Pal’s plays Goddess also performed in London[1], though some sources suggest that it was Devika Rani who first met him, through their common Brahmo Samaj connections, which paved way for his eventual stake in the creation of Bombay Talkies.[2].

Following the successes of The Light of Asia and Shiraz 1928, Pal moved back to India with his English wife, Lily, and son Colin Pal, and embarked on a career as the screenplay writer for Bombay Talkies. He also started directing films, and made among others Needle’s Eye (1931), Pardesia (1932), and Chitthi (1941). His career as a director was however far less successful than his work as a screenwriter, in which role he wrote some of India’s earliest blockbusters Achhut Kanya (1936), Jeevan Naiya (1936) and Jawani Ki Hawa (1935). Of these Achhut Kanya was the most popular, and continues to be a landmark film as it dealt with the subject of untouchability.

He also collaborated with noted dancer, Uday Shankar to write a libretto for first Indian ballets, performed by Anna Pavlova and Uday Shankar himself [3].

Family

Niranjan Pal’s family is in the film industry, his son Colin Pal was a prominent journalist, and film historian, who wrote books, ‘Shooting Stars’ and autobiography “Aye Jibon: Such is life” won a National Award from the Indian Government in 2001. Colin died, on 28 August 2005, after a prolonged illness, in Mumbai, at the age of 83 [4]

Niranjan’s grandson Deep Pal is a cinematographer.

Bibliography

· “The Goddess;” a Play of Modern India, 1922.

References

1. Himanshu Rai Biography http://www.upperstall.com.

2. pib.nic.in/prs/iffi2007/birth.pdf Birth Centenaries – Devika Rani Biography

3. Arts of Transitional India Twentieth Century, by Vinayak Purohit. Popular Prakashan, 1988 ISBN 0861321383., Page 1023.

4. Colin Pal Obituary Screen, 2 September 2005.

· Cinema Vision India, Published by s.n., 1980, Page 58.

Himanshu Rai (1892–1940)

Himanshu Roy (1892–1940), one of the pioneers of Indian cinema, is best known as the founder of the Bombay Talkies in 1934. He was associated with a number of movies, including Goddess (1922), The Light of Asia (1925), Siraj (1926), A Throw of Dice (1928), and Karma (1933). He was married to actress Devika Rani.

Bombay Talkies

He was partners in Bombay Talkies with Sashadhar Mukherjee, and Mukherjee’s brother in law worked as a technician in the studio. When due to suspected romantic liaisons of his wife and the leading man in one film, Himanshu had to sack the leading man and look for a replacement, he cast the gawky, awkward looking and relcutant brother-in-law as the leading man. The brother-in-law was Ashok Kumar and he went on to have a very successful career in films.

After his death, there was a tussle for studio control, His widow Devika Rani was in conflict with Sashadhar Mukherjee. Eventually there was dual control and alternate production of films by the two camps, during this era Sashadhar produced the studio’s biggest hit to date Kismet in 1943. Then Sashadhar broke away to form Filmistan in partnership, and Devika Rani did not have as much success with the studio while being fully in charge.

In 1945 Devika Rani married Svetoslav Roerich and moved away from Bombay and films, Ashok Kumar and Sashadhar made a bid to revive Bombay talkies and produced one big hit in Mahal. But eventually the studio shut down and is now just a decrepit property in Malad.

Filmography

Producer

· Kangan (1939) / The Bangle (English title)

· Izzat (1937)

· Jeevan Prabhat (1937)

· Savitri (1937)

· Achhut Kanya (1936) / Untouchable Girl (English title)

· Janmabhoomi (1936)

· Jeevan Naya (1936)

· Jawani Ki Hawa (1935) / Leichtsinn der Jugend (Germany title)

· Karma (1933)

· Prapancha Pash (1929) / A Throw of Dice (English title) / Schicksalswürfel (Germany title)

· Shiraz (1928) / Grabmal einer großen Liebe (Germany title)

Actor

· Karma (1933)

· Prapancha Pash (1929) / A Throw of Dice (English title) / Schicksalswürfel (Germany title)

· Shiraz (1928) / Grabmal einer großen Liebe (Germany title)

· Prem Sanyas (1925) / Leuchte Asiens (Germany title)

Writer

· Achhut Kanya (1936) / Untouchable Girl (English title)

Director

· Prem Sanyas (1925) / Leuchte Asiens (Germany title)

“Rai studied with Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore at the famed Patha Bhavana (an institution where both Indira Gandhi and Satyajit Ray also received their secondary educations).”

During his London years he associated himself with Indian nationalist playwright Niranjan Pal.

See “A Throw of Dice” Film Notes by Bruce Bennett, Kino

Globalization and the Roots of Indian Cinema

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