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Seduced by the FamiliarNarration and Meaning in Indian Popular Cinema$
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M.K. Raghavendra

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195696547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195696547.001.0001

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Indian Cinema before 1947

Indian Cinema before 1947

In Search of a Definition

(p.69) 2 Indian Cinema before 1947
Seduced by the Familiar

M.K. Raghavendra

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Indian cinema during the silent years where individual songs (a characteristic trait of Indian popular cinema) were absent. It begins with Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, the pioneer of Indian cinema who dwelled on mythology and introduced the concept of ‘frontality’. Several films made before 1947, particularly those by Phalke, are discussed in detail. The frontal cinematic address, iconic representation, realism, and the mythological themes of the early or ‘primitive’ films are examined and contrasted with Indian films made by Franz Osten. The transformations in Indian popular cinema in the late 1930s, most importantly, the introduction of sound in Indian cinema is also covered. This period also witnessed social reform, crisis of masculinity and sexual identity, the breaking away from an authoritarian father, and the rise of Muslim influence—all contributing to the gradual transformation of Indian popular cinema.

Keywords:   silent years, frontality, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, frontal cinematic address, iconic representation, realism, mythological themes, primitive films, Franz Osten, sound cinema

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