Indian Cinema and the Circus: An Exploration of Entertainment Traditions

Indian Cinema and the Circus: An Exploration of Entertainment Traditions
Posted on 30-07-2023

Indian Cinema and the Circus: An Exploration of Entertainment Traditions

Indian cinema, also known as Bollywood, has undergone significant evolution and growth since its inception in the late 19th century. Starting with silent films, it gradually progressed to include sound and later experimented with color, music, and dance, becoming a unique and influential form of entertainment worldwide. Here is a rephrased version of the article:

Indian cinema, widely known as Bollywood, has experienced a remarkable journey since its introduction in the late 19th century. Originally, the Lumière Brothers' films made their debut in Mumbai in 1896, marking the beginning of motion pictures in India. However, it was Dada Saheb Phalke who truly pioneered Indian cinema with his silent film "Raja Harishchandra" in the late 1910s, earning him the title of "Father of Indian cinema."

Indian cinema took a stride forward with the release of "Alam Ara" directed by Ardeshir Irani, which was the first Indian film with synchronized sound, after almost two years of "Raja Harishchandra." The development of Indian cinematography led to the establishment of the Indian Cinematograph Act in 1918, which addressed licensing of cinema halls and censorship of indigenous and foreign films through a board of censors.

In 1937, Moti B Gidwani's "Kisan Kanya" laid the groundwork for color cinema in India, signifying another milestone in its evolution. The era after India's independence, from the 1940s to the 1960s, is often referred to as "The Golden Era," during which parallel cinema emerged as an alternative to mainstream commercial films. Filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, and Mrinal Sen led this movement, influenced by Italian Neo-realism and focusing on serious content, realism, and the sociopolitical climate of the times.

Over the years, Indian cinema has made considerable progress, competing with films from Hollywood. One notable example is SS Rajamouli's "Bahubali," which showcased the advancements in filmmaking. Today, hundreds of films are produced in India each year, catering to diverse audiences with a wide array of genres, including commercial and art cinemas.

Music and dance have always been integral to Indian cinema, drawing inspiration from Indian classical music, folk music, and Western classical and popular music. Notably, Indian diaspora has played a significant role in elevating Indian cinema's presence on the global platform.

Indian cinema boasts several prestigious film awards, with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award being the highest honor in the industry. Additionally, each state in India has its own set of state film awards, further acknowledging regional contributions.

Several institutions are associated with the film industry in India, such as the Film Division of India, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), National Film Development Corporation Limited (NFDC), National Film Archive of India, Directorate of Film Festivals, and Children's Film Society. These institutions play crucial roles in preserving, promoting, and advancing Indian cinema.

Overall, Indian cinema has witnessed a remarkable evolution, and its influence continues to grow not only within India but also on the international stage.

Circus in India

Circus in India has a long history, with street performances reminiscent of circuses existing since ancient times. However, the modern circus, as introduced by Philip Astley, began making its appearance in India in the 1880s. Notable circus companies like the Royal Italian Circus by Giuseppe Chiarini and the Great Bengal Circus by Priyanath Bose toured India, establishing the foundation of the circus tradition in the country.

Vishnupant Chatre played a pivotal role in the development of Indian circuses by purchasing equipment from Chiarini and forming the Great Indian Circus, marking the birth of the first circus company in India. Over time, several other prominent circuses such as the Malabar Grand Circus, the Grand Bombay Circus founded by Baburao Kadam, and others like Gemini Circus, Rajkamal Circus, and Jumbo Circus emerged in different parts of the country.

However, despite its historical significance, the circus industry in India is facing numerous challenges, contributing to its decline as an art form and entertainment industry. One major factor is the perception of the circus as a dangerous profession, dissuading families from allowing their young ones to join it. Additionally, the treatment of animals and the poor conditions in which they are sometimes kept have garnered negative attention, impacting the industry's reputation.

The ban on the use of wild animals in circus performances, enforced by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC), further crippled the circus business. This led to the cancellation of recognition for circuses that used wild animals for entertainment purposes.

Moreover, the amendment to the Child Labour Act, which prohibits circus companies from employing anyone under the age of 18, has affected the industry's ability to train young artists early on, potentially hindering the future talent pool.

Economically, sustaining oneself as a circus artist in India has become challenging, making it an unviable career option for many. The declining popularity of circuses among the general public has also contributed to their struggles.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the financial difficulties faced by circus companies in India, leading to additional hardships for the industry.

In conclusion, while circus has a rich history in India, the art form is facing significant challenges that have led to its decline as an industry. The need for modernization, better treatment of animals, and measures to attract audiences are some of the key factors that could play a role in reviving the circus tradition in the country.

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