ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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For a Political Cinema to Come

It has been a universal tendency of market forms to assimilate styles, techniques and themes of the minority alternative films. This has led to a diversifi cation of the modes of film-making in India, sometimes with very interesting results, and certainly, to significant technical and stylistic achievements. This article, which draws attention to the refashioning of the conventional cinema in the aftermath of the demise of the parallel-mainstream division in India, focuses on two questions. Does the idea of the "popular cinema" itself survive the end of the "great divide"? Can it really assimilate the political charge of the oppositional cinema?

Political film-making and alternative cinema have been closely connected in India. The current crisis of the political film, therefore, should owe as much to the institutional crisis of alternative film practices as to the exhaustion of a mode of radical political imagination. The near absence of political film-making in India (I am speaking here of the industrial fiction films, not documentaries) corresponds to the absence of an alternative film sector in the industry. The last appears especially strange in the light of the fact that we produce 1,000 odd feature films a year in several languages, with a remarkable concentration of skills and talent in the major production centres; and also in view of the fact that, independent artistic schools of film-making have experienced a worldwide resurgence over the last two decades, with Asia playing a major part. India has managed to remain unaffected, while Iran, China, Korea, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam have made major contributions to this resurgence.

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