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Mass Media and Theatre


Cinema in India

India has one of the oldest film industries in the world. Nine decades ago, the pioneer of Indian Cinema, a man by the name of Dundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke encountered several years of persistent struggle but, the untiring devotion and determination by this great genius, culminated in the first ever film of Indian cinema, called Raja Harishchandra in 1913-a silent film with four reels with inter titles in Hindi and English.

Raja Harishchandra was a mythological film about a benevolent king who sacrificed his kingdom, wealth and family to uphold his ideals, "truth and integrity". This film was reflective of the standards of a society with strong religious roots. This was so because, technology made it possible tell stories through moving images, it was but natural that the Indian film pioneer turned to his own cultural heritage-the epics and Puranas for source material.

Alam Ara produced in 1913 was the genesis of the talkie feature films. The film's popular dialogues and introduction of songs appealed to the public immensely such that in a movie called "Indrasabha", the number of songs were increased to 71!! Film songs became a Pan-Indian phenomenon. This resulted in the craving to see and hear films in their regional language and thus a burgeoning of regional film industries sprouted.

Today, the Indian film industry is the biggest film industry in the world and produces around 800 films per year! A reasonably budgeted Hindi film would cost around US$ 1 million. Apart from the Hindi cinema popularly called Bollywood, there are others-Kollywood (Tamil cinema), Tollywood (Telugu cinema) and Mallywood (Malayalam cinema). The regional film industries like Tamil, Telegu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Asamese and English reflect the cultural diversity of the Indian cinema. However, it should be noted here that the cost of making a commercial Hindi film varies from the regional films.

The post-independence period saw the Golden Era of Indian cinema, where one witnessed a shift in focus from mythological issues to melodious socials and melodramas. Films like Pather Panchali produced by Satyajit Ray in 1955, gained international recognition. Satayajit Ray emerged as one of India's best directors and was awarded an Oscar in 1995 for lifetime achievement. The 70's witnessed the dawn of parallel cinema, which promoted realistic cinema. Films like Sholay, Deewar, Amar Prem, Seeta Aur Geeta created waves in the film industry, so did parallel cinema like Ijjazat. Some famous names, who have contributed to the conceptualization and development of parallel cinema are Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Guru Dutt, Shyam Benegal, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar and others.

The 90's saw a different genre of films evolve, the film industry having completed a full circle. The mega blockbuster like "Hum Aapke Hain Kaun", followed by "Dilwale Dulanhiya Le Jayenge" crossed the biggest gross ever, proving that Indian cinema has come a full circle from the rickety iridescent images to a very classy state-of-the-art technology for creation and projection of image and sound track.

So many decades old now, Indian cinema has transcended many facets and genres of films. Bollywood has had a chain of distinct categories of films. A typical Bollywood film can be a musical (a film whose action and dialogue is interspersed with singing and dancing) or a melodrama characterized by moon-struck lovers, angry parents, fraudulent politicians, conniving villains, long lost siblings separated by fate and convenient coincidences etc.

Apart from acting skills, a requisite for all aspiring and established actors in Bollywood these days is the ability to dance. As far as songs are concerned, the professional playback singers record songs in the studio, while the actors lip-sync the words. A new fad in Bollywood is that of the actors singing at least one song in a movie themselves.

Dialogues in Indian cinema are powerful and quixotic. The dialogues in Indian cinema are primarily composed in Hindi, though frequent use of poetic Urdu words are pretty common. Contemporary mainstream movies incorporate a lot of English.

Since 1913, from the time it was created until now, we thus observe how the film industry has grown multi-dimensionally with a inimitable blend of business, art, glamour, social interaction, legendary adjuncts, artistic expression, performing arts, folk forms and above all, a wide-ranging and abiding appeal to the heart, the mind and the conscience.

All India Radio

The Radio Broadcasting service was started on an experimental basis with the proliferation of private radio clubs in Mumbai and Kolkata in July 1927. This venture was the outcome of an agreement between the Government of India and a private company called the Indian Broadcasting Company Ltd. However, All India Radio (AIR) began operating formally in 1936, as a government organization, with clear objectives to inform, educate and entertain the masses. All India Radio is a national service planned, developed and operated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the government of India.

Post independence, AIR had a network of six stations, complimentary 18 transmitters and covered only 2.5% of the area and 11% of the population.

Today, AIR has a network of 215 broadcasting centres with 144 medium frequency (MW), 54 high frequency (SW) and 139 FM transmitters. It covers 91.42% of the area, serving 99.13% of the people in of India. AIR covers 24 Languages and 146 dialects in home services. In External services, it covers 27 languages, 17 national and 10 foreign languages.

Unlike yester years, when radio listenership/audience was confined to the urban genteel, today there are about 132 million estimated radio sets in the country. At present, there are 215 broadcasting centers, including 77 Radio Stations with 100% coverage.

The National Channel of AIR is one of the premier channels of today, and broadcasts music, entertainment programmes and News Bulletin for the country from 6:50 pm to 6:12 am in the morning. This is the only channel that operates after all the other channels have shut down. The National Channel broadcasts in various Indian languages like Hindi, English, Urdu and other regional languages, projecting the multi cultural diversity of India.

The quality of National Channel programmes has made it very popular and it has extended it wings far and wide. Its recognition can be gauged from the following information.


STATES : Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa, Puducherry, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand


STATES :Assam, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu


STATES : FM- Himachal Pradesh

All India Radio began broadcasting 'externally' in Pushtu, shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Today, the External Services Division (ESD) of All India Radio serves as an important link between India and the world. Besides projecting the Indian point of view on matters of National and International importance through its various programmes, the External Services Division also attempts to acquaint the listeners' abroad with the variegated cultural mosaic of India and its socio-economic milieu. ESD presently broadcasts in 27 languages, with a combined daily radio hours of 71 hours 30 minutes to about 100 countries.

The target areas of External Services Division span almost all the continents and include areas of East, North-East and South-East Asia, West Asia, West, North-West and East Africa, Australia, New Zealand, U.K., Europe and of course the Indian Sub-Continent.

News, music and spoken work programmes constitute the three major pillars of AIR's programme composition. Inspired by the logical approach of BBC, the News Services Division (NSD) is now a reality and seeks to make the newsroom free, fair and responsible. The NSD produces 112 bulletins in 17 languages, which is relayed from various AIR stations and the External News bulletins are broadcasted in 25 different languages.

AIR also broadcasts other news programmes. Some of them like "Spotlight" (English) and "Samayiki" (Hindi) deal with topical issues. Others such as "Current Affairs" discuss issues by experts on national and international events. "Charcha ka Vishai Hai" is a similar programme in Hindi. There are other news programmes like "Samachar Prabhat" and "Morning News". "News on Phone" and "Phone in Sewa" is two round the clock news services.

Besides the above, AIR broadcasts other programmes of quality quotient. Music includes classical, folk, light, devotional, film and western music programmes. Talks, discussions, interviews are regularly arranged to provide a forum for all shades of opinion on outstanding national and international issues. Radio drama incorporates narration, music, drama, interviews, poetry, sound effects etc. There are also special programmes that cater to the interests of the rural listeners, women and children. Besides these, Educational programmes for primary, secondary, tertiary and university levels and Enrichment programmes for teachers also constitute a major component of AIR. There is good news for the sports fans as well. One of AIR's important feature is the broadcast of programmes on Sports. All the important sports events of international, national, regional and local levels are given due coverage through running commentaries, dispatches and radio reports. Apart from two 5-minute daily news bulletins, AIR also broadcasts two half-hour sports magazine programmes.

"Yuva Vani" is another programmes for the likes of the age group 15-30 years. These programmes are in different formats such as talks, discussions, interviews, plays, features, music etc., and are produced and presented by the youth and for the youth. Other programmes for various groups, like the senior citizens and industrial workers are broadcast every week. Interactive broadcasts like the Phone-in-Programme, Radio Bridge and Voice Mail, are recent innovations in broadcasting. Voice Mail is another service facility, where people can telephone and record their requests, complaints, suggestions and appreciation, etc. 'Radio Bridge' is a programme on special occasions and is broadcast live by uplinking AIR stations through satellite.

Using the satellite facility, AIR has made provision for 20 radio channels for cable distribution. The system became operational on April 1, 1994 to enable the subscribers to receive the Sky Radio Channel on their domestic FM receivers.

Hence much as food, clothing and shelter are a part of our lives, so is the radio. Slowly and silently, the radio has crept into our lives and is here to stay.

Television - Doordarshan

Doordarshan, the Public Service Broadcaster of India, is one of the largest terrestrial networks in the world. It was started on an experimental basis on 15th September 1959 to transmit educational and developmental programmes. A major landmark came with the introduction of colour television in 1982 during the 9th Asian Games that ushered in a major revolution in broadcasting in the country. This was followed by a phase of rapid expansion of Doordarshan when, in 1984, DD installed a transmitter in the country more or less every day. With this, the reach of television increased far and wide.

As per the latest data, Doordarshan has 1314 transmitters (1188 for DD 1 + 121 for DD 2 + 5 others) with 56 studio centres and 23 satellite channels (which includes Gyandarshan).

The flagship of Doordarshan - DD 1 (National) operates through a network of 1188 transmitters of varying power, covering 77.5% of the land area and 89.6% population of India.

The primary channel of Doordarshan (DD-I) has 3 major components of programmes that consist - information, education and entertainment. The information component consists of News and Current Affairs. The education component is drawn from the contributions from IGNOU, UGC, CIET, and SIET etc.

Question Hour in Parliament is telecast live on the National channel. Specific window is earmarked for programmes in regional languages between 2:30 PM and 8.00 PM on all weekdays. The entertainment programmes mainly consists of mid-day daily soaps between 12:00 to 2:00 pm and again between 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. This includes feature films on Friday and Saturday and regional Award winning films on Sunday.

Doordarshan has made a significant contribution to accelerate socio-economic change, promote national integration and stimulate scientific temper. Being a Public Service Broadcaster, it strives to carry messages in its programmes on means of population control and family welfare, agricultural information and knowledge, preservation of environment and ecological balance, highlighting the need for social welfare measures for women, children and the less priviledged. It also promotes games and sports, and the artistic and cultural heritage of the country.

Till about the end of 1980s, private television channels were not allowed to venture into Indian market. With the opening up of Indian economy in the 1990s, private television channels were allowed to setup their network. This brought a revolution in the Indian media industry and today more than a 100 private television channels are available in the country.

Indian - Theatre

The history of the origin of Indian theatre goes way back to the mythological age, when the need to free humanity from the clutches of corruption and power led to the creation of a source of entertainment by the universal creator Brahma. Brahma created “Natya Shashtra” or the art of drama, and enlightened the sage Bharata with its nuances, who later taught the art form to his disciples, thereby spreading it throughout the world. Thus came into existence one of the oldest forms of performing art, which prevailed throughout numerous stages to enrapture the minds of onlookers who ever beheld any dramatic performance.

Indian theatre speaks a lot about the cultures and traditions of India, the colours of its festivities, and the vibrancy of the people. Theatrical performances in India started off in a narrative style, which included much narrations, songs, and dances. It is because of the compilation of all these art forms that theatre has prevailed over all other forms of performing and creative art. Indian theatre, as Brahma himself had endowed it upon the world, had been a constant journey of dedications and tributes to the Gods during the initial days, later developing to a subtler form of dramatics called contemporary theatre.

Indian theatre has roughly been classified into three prominent stages of development – the classical period, the traditional period, and the modern period. These stages have determined the events and developments, which have given shape to the face of the Indian theatre that is prevalent today.

Classical period : This period witnessed the concentration of drama around the act of writing of plays, and the techniques of presenting stage acts or plays. It was also during this period that Indian theatre saw the creation of masterpieces by playwrights such as Kalidasa, Patanjali, Bhasa, and Sudraka, who have contributed immensely to the glory of Sanskrit drama. The playwrights created their plots, mostly based on stories they garnered from epics, folklore, history, legends, etc. This made the plays easily comprehensible to the audiences who attended the shows to see the creative presentation of the stories that they were already familiar with. The actors were therefore required to be skilled enough in the art form to enthrall the audiences with such plays.

Traditional period : Drama during the traditional period was mostly based on the traditional or oral method of representation. Folklore that had been passed on through generations was the epicenter of theatrical conventions, as diversification in linguistic order proved to be a hindrance for writing of plays. It was during this period that drama developed at various places in India in various languages. People started improvising dramatic art with their own rendition of traditional presentations. The mediums of dramatic presentation, such as songs, dances, narrations, etc, remained the same as in the classical period, thus leading to the unfolding of popular traditional acts like Ramlila, Rasleela, Nautankis, and so on.

Modern period : The modern period saw the intermingling of the Indian theatre with the Western theatre during the British rule, and the development of a form of theatre that was based on a realistic or naturalistic presentation. The modern theatre started concentrating more on practical issues, thereby portraying the more naturalistic elements of life.

theatre in India went through a sea change in collaboration with various improvisations and developments spanning the three periods, and gradually gave way to the evolution of the contemporary theatre of the present times. Various national societies and academies have now come to the fore to promote theatre in India, which can now boast of world-renowned artistes who have been honored with numerous awards and respects in the international circuit.

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