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date: 03 August 2021

p. 11. The political popularlocked

p. 11. The political popularlocked

  • Ashish Rajadhyaksha


Very little of India’s early cinema has been preserved, so its history is based on intense memories and short remnants of films. Indian cinema was ‘officially’ born with Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s mythological Raja Harishchandra, released in 1913. The political popular asks what might happen if we look at what gets left out by the historical emphasis on this film, and on Satyajit Ray’s equally famous Pather Panchali/Song of the Road, released 32 years later. Providing details of a virtually unknown low-budget film Pitru Prem/Father’s Love (1929) and the first truly national commercial success, Gul-e-Bakavali/The Magic Flower (1924), it opens up the influence of India’s colonial history and the swadeshi political movement on cinema.

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