Because of the report’s primary and intermediate status as a working instrument, it has not been copy-edited to publishable standards, and some parts have also been written by research assistants who were not native English speakers.
The Documentary Film in India (1948-1975)
Final report 1
Over the first three decades of Independent India (1948-1975), documentary film was considered by the new State as the most important medium of mass communication and education. Acknowledging the critical role of documentary images, the Indian State was prompt in creating a national institution, the Films Division (FD) to supervise the production and distribution of documentary films and newsreels. In 1948, one year after India's independence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated FD to participate in the project of nation building. Following the model of the Indian mixed economy, in which public and private sectors collaborated, most of FD films were produced internally, whilst the rest was commissioned from private companies which also produced films outside of FD. These three areas of production (internal to, associated with and external to FD) made up the Indian documentary film sector of the 1950s. The first decades of Indian documentaries at the FD were partly dedicated to nation-building, in a country facing numerous challenges in terms of education, social cohesion, economic development, etc. Documentaries were meant to play a significant role in these various areas by circulating news, spreading a form of national conscience, educating the masses, especially the illiterates on various topics ranging from agriculture to hygiene, and reporting on the achievements of the young nation. These so-called “short films” were therefore conceived as part and parcel of a State propaganda effort, especially in the shorts produced by the FD. This was somewhat in continuity with pre-independence practices in colonial institutions founded by the British when the Indian war effort was badly needed by the Allies.
However, the documentaries produced in the first decade of the FD proved almost as unpopular as the colonial ones, especially to the film exhibition sector which had to rent and show them before the screening of long-feature films to audiences not always enthralled by the repetitive form and the paternalistic tone of the “shorts”. Independent film historian Dharamsey Bhai recalls that “their duration was fixed and the music easily recognisable, so one could easily wait outside until the screening of the feature film.” 2
During the 1960s and early 1970s this changed, as documentary films made in conjunction with, and outside of FD, began to expose social inequality, and the role and actions of the state. These documentaries’ formal characteristics began to evolve too, with a new generation of filmmakers such as S. Sukhdev, S.N.S Sastry, and FD decision-makers such as J.S. Bhownagary who were interested in engaging with the art of documentary film, and produced a body of experimental films.
However, this period of advance in Indian documentary film culture came to an end in 1975, when a government-decreed ‘State of Emergency’ imposed controls over the media, including the documentary film. By the same token, the state-run TV production and broadcaster Doordarshan would soon become the medium of choice for disseminating information, news programmes, and documentary images, making the FD quickly lose its relevance in that area.
As this short historical introduction indicates, the Indian documentary film sector was the object of much attention from the Indian state over the period 1948-1975. Therefore, the research conducted within the framework of this project examines the main official policies and historical events that influenced the development and evolution of the documentary film sector. It draws a map of the various public and private organizations, as well as important individuals involved in the funding, production, distribution and exhibition of documentaries over the period. The unique landscape of public institutions and private companies involved in documentary filmmaking calls for an examination of the specific official, professional and creative relationships between FD and external documentary filmmakers, state-sponsored film institutions, the commercial film and television industries, and art cinema. This report aims at examining how these relationships influenced the development and evolution of the Indian documentary film sector over the first three decades of independence in India. It looks into the impact of the former British colonial film units and their films made in India (1940-1946) on the organization of the FD and its films over the period 1948-1975. Finally, this report attempts to assess the main similarities and differences between documentaries made within and outside Films Division, documentary-based TV programmes, important commercial feature films and art films over the period 1948-1975, in terms of content and form.
1. The Organization of Films Division (1948-1975)
1.1 The influence of the British film units IFI and INP
For independent scholar Peter Sutoris, the influence of the British Film Units on post-Independence Indian documentary exists in three areas: “[…] the content of the films, […] the cinematic representation of the idea of development. […] The third continuity had to do with the organisation’s staff, the creative artists who had in many cases previously worked for Information Films of India and the Film Advisory Board during colonial times, or at least were influenced by fellow filmmakers associated with these organisations.” 3 To understand the FD and post-independence Indian documentary in general, it is therefore necessary to look at colonial era structures and practices.
As in many countries, the advent of cinema in India started with the screening of documentary images, with a Lumière operator showing the The arrival of a train as early as 1896 in Bombay. 4 Nonfiction film “had its day in the misty past, before the feature film was born and even after it began to dominate the screen in the silent form” 5 with a few main characters and companies operating mainly in Bombay (Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatwadekhar aka Sawe Dada) and Calcutta (Hiralal Sen for Pathé or Jamshed Framji Madan). The genealogy of Indian nonfiction films can be traced back to these “topicals” or “specials” made in the silent era that “were shown as ‘added attraction’ to the main film, and became highly popular.” 6 These short newsreels or topicals recorded events such as the National Congress Party activities, a Maharaja’s birthday, local events, and reports on industries (steel shellac, team tobacco, jute and cotton). Jamshed Framji Madan even produced a “news magazine,” 7 Calcutta Topical Series, as well as imported foreign films. He also ventured into the exhibition sector, owning his first “permanent cinema house” in 1907 in Calcutta, to which 37 others would be added within a decade. 8
The First World War made the British more wary of their grip onto India at a time when they needed the Indian population’s contribution to the war effort, as well as feared local nationalist movements. The London war office supplied propaganda films that were exhibited in local theatres, mainly through the transnational cinema theatre chain owned by Maurice Bandmann. 9 After the war, instead of honoring their promise to leave India, they further affirmed their authority on the country, censoring the press and the film industry. A Cinematograph Act was passed in 1918, and Censor boards were set up in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Rangoon and later Lahore. Their mission was to “safeguard the imperial interest”. Any film vaguely suggestive of patriotism or deemed to “incite disaffection against the government” was banned.” 10 Because of heavy censorship and discrepancies between the various Censor boards’ decisions, it is difficult to assess the effective circulation and the impact of documentaries and newsreels from local Indian companies such as Madan, Aurora, Imperial, Maharashtra and Kohinoor that “risked sending their crews to film national events like the Congress sessions, the activities of Gandhi, protest marches, arrests, and repression.” 11
As historian B.D. Garga observes, “conditions in the country were not conducive for making relevant, realistic films, not only because of stringent censorship, but the equally inimical attitude of the commercial film industry.” 12 However, a few important newsreels production companies were established just before World War Two. One of which was B.P.S. Newsreels (later renamed Indian Screen Gazette) created by J.B.H Wadia, B.M Tata, and Dr. P.V. Pathy in 1938. 13
At the outset of the 1940s, besides these efforts and those by private companies aimed at popularizing nonfiction educational films, 14 the colonial government of India also became more active in the area of propaganda film. Similarly to the years leading up to World War I, they needed to boost the war effort, and instead of relying on documentary films and newsreels produced in the UK or the US, they established their own official film units dedicated to producing and distributing documentary films in India. As Jag Mohan remarks, “like the roads and railways, the posts and telegraphs, the administrative system and the armed services, which the British built up primarily in the interest of the Empire, and secondarily in the interests of the ruled, the Documentary film and the Newsreel too were brought in. And in the transplanted soil, both seemed to have thrived well.” 15 Desmond Young, the Chief Press Advisor of the Imperial Department of Information, created the Film Advisory Board (FAB) 16 on 4 July 1940 with the objective of “putting before the Indian public films of interesting war subjects and others of informatory value”. It resolved, “to make every effort to see that all cinemas exhibit these films.” 17 Although a nationalist, J.B.H. Wadia’s anti-fascist views led him to accept the position of head of the FAB until its dissolution in January 1943. Important experts, such as Alexander Shaw who served as Chief Producer were brought in from the UK. He hired writers Premila Rama Ray, Romesh Thapar and Aubrey Menen, and directors Krishna Gopal, A. Bhaskar Rao, as well as Dr. Pathy. They did not only produce war propaganda films, but also films portraying “a modern India,” 18 as Shaw thought that “blatant propaganda was often counterproductive.” 19 To facilitate recruitment and army propaganda outside and within the military, an Army Film Centre was established in Bombay in June 1941. Later, New Delhi-based Directorate of Services of Cinematography took charge of the production, distribution, exhibition and servicing of films and equipment. With 150 civilians and 50 army officers working in the production unit, it was the largest within the British Empire, producing 170 films in 1943 and 290 in 1944. 20
However, setting up these institutions, and more particularly the FAB, was challenging, because the colonial government was more and more resented by the population who had been offered promises of independence. 21 Within the colonial power structure too, difficulties were numerous. Alexander Shaw found much resistance within the colonial government about developing a Government Film Unit. He therefore quit and returned to the Crown Film Unit in the UK in January 1942. V. Shantaram, a nationalist, replaced him as Chief producer, and the FAB production peaked during his tenure. 22 Meanwhile, as the pro-Independence activities escalated with Gandhi’s call for civil disobedience, the colonial government declared the Congress unlawful and repressed subsequent riots. In the months following August 1942, press censorship was imposed and the Ministry of Information (MoI) decided to disband the FAB and to assume direct control over the production of propaganda films in January 1943. They established the Information Film of India (IFI) in Bombay, with a branch in Calcutta. It was headed by Calcutta-born Ezra Mir, who had a long experience in both fiction and documentary films, in India as well as abroad. The setting up of the IFI almost coincided with a May 1943 government order under Rule 44A of the Defence of India Act “which made mandatory for every cinema exhibitor to include in every programme and each performance one or more films approved by the Government of India with a minimum running time of twenty minutes. [… Exhibitors also] had to pay a rental fee on these films depending on the box office collection.” 23 The IFI produced the Indian News Parade (INP) first launched in September 1943 and released each week in five languages: English, Hindustani, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. INP tried to portray compelling examples of the war effort, especially the role of women in the Women auxiliary Corps, and to keep an “uncontroversial, and apolitical” tone, “closer to Indian realities.” 24 Ezra Mir encouraged the production of documentaries on the economic conditions and the cultural life of the people, with films on agriculture for rural audiences, reports on newly implanted industries, and traditional arts and craft. However, the coverage of the 1943 Bengal famine, where 4 million people died was a case of gross political understatement, as it was merely called a “food shortage” 25 caused by natural events in the INP newsreel.
In any case, the legacy of the colonial institutions was important, as the FAB and IFI produced 170 short films and numerous newsreels between 1940 and 1946. 26 Moreover, as some of the staff were British or trained in the British Film Units, they shared a number of similarities between the FAB and IFI films, and later when working at the FD, these influences persisted. 27 A number of important documentary filmmakers such as V.M. Vijaykar, Clement Baptista, Homi Sethna, and Dr. Pathy started or worked at some point with the Army Film Centre aimed at producing morale boosting films during the war.
IFI was nonetheless seen as anti-national and expensive by the nationalists who were leading the struggle for Independence, so when WWII hostilities ceased and Independence was finally underway, the Interim Government cut down funding to IFI and INP to a token rupee remembering their role in the War Propaganda films. 28 As Camille Deprez notes, “this decision also inadvertently deprived the Indian people of locally produced, official moving images of the birth of independent India, including the handover ceremonies and Nehru’s first speech to his free nation.” 29 Filmmaker turned entrepreneur Ambalal Patel decided to purchase the IFI and INP and to hire some of its staff. His company was the only Indian one to film the Independence Day celebrations on August 1947. Facing distribution problems following the end of the IFI mandatory exhibition scheme in 1946, he nonetheless had to close down his business in 1947.
1.2 FD set-up and evolution (1948-75)
It was in December 1947 that the Standing Finance Committee approved the proposal to form a film producing and distributing unit under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). 30 Initially called the Film Unit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, it was renamed Films Division in April 1948. Before describing the various aspects of the FD in terms of its internal structure and various missions, here is a brief historical description of its evolution over the period from 1948 to 1975.
As B. D. Garga states, “in comparison with British documentary, the FD started with much better resources, both technical and financial. […] FD even in its early period had an enviable infrastructure.” 31 Indeed, the FD benefitted from the reintroduction of the clause to make mandatory the screening of “1000 feet of ‘approved films’ in each show in the exhibitors licence,” 32 effectively providing FD a monopole over the screen that guaranteed a “weekly paying audience of twenty million.” 33 This mandatory screening system and the heavy taxation of the film industry led to a major strike of the film sector on 30 June 1949. One of the first editorials of the magazine Indian Documentary is dedicated to the incident: “there are very few films in this world that bear seeing more than once and it seems bad policy for the FD to expose the weakness of its films to the discriminating public who visit two or three houses every week. This policy was a notorious feature of the IFI and completely drained away any sympathy that the public had for the documentary. It’s unfortunate that this mistake is being repeated.” 34
Initially, many of those who had worked for the IFI and INP were recruited by the FD, including Mohan Bhavnani who was appointed Chief Producer in charge of documentaries and Sarvottam Badami appointed as Chief Producer in charge of newsreels, now called the Indian News Review. A. Bhaskar Rao and Krishna Gopal, both from the IFI, joined as Senior Directors. Among others recruits were Mohan Wadhwani who was promoted Chief Producer in 1968, and Kumarsen Sammarth who later headed the film unit of the Maharashtra government. The FD also recruited five film students who had just returned from a government sponsored course in cinema from the University of Southern California: Jagat Murari, K.L. Khandpur, V. Ramakantha Sarma, Ravi Prakash and Mushir Ahmad, who would later become key figures of this institution.
Late in 1949, the government sat up a Film Enquiry Committee to “enquire into the growth and the organization of the film industry [… and consider] what measures should be adopted to enable films in India to develop into an affective instrument for the promotion of national culture, education and healthy entertainment.” 35 One of FD’s stated missions was “the production and distribution of newsreels, documentary films and other films required by Government for information, educational and training purposes.” 36 At the outset, Jag Mohan describes its role as “interpreting India to Indians and to the world.” 37 This implied to follow Nehru’s vision of an independent and modern India, united in its diversity, with the films contributing to the nation-building efforts. In 1951, the stated “raison d’être” of the FD was “to propagate the aims, and portray the activities and achievements of the State. But it is necessary that the objectives of our planning effort should be presented with subtleties, able to hold the attention of and make impact on the viewing public.” 38 A large section of this Film Enquiry Committee report was dedicated to a discussion on the various purposes of cinema and its social role. Refusing the view of film as a “degenerate entertainment” 39 , the committee insisted that the entertainment value of cinema was “a mere excuse for the poverty of art and talent in the industry and an apology for the mediocrity which abounds in it.” 40 This text attempted to strike a balance between film’s artistic, industrial, commercial and informative functions:
“We have no doubt whatsoever that films as an important means of communication of ideas, as an interpretation of life through art, and a vehicle of artistic expression itself, as the productive effort of co-operation and collaboration, at once a record and revelation of impressions and experience, and exploiting one of the very effective and subtle formative influences, namely entertainment, have an important cultural and sociological significance and as such a valuable formative role. […] Obviously, therefore, these are aspects which make it incumbent to the State and the community to shed their apathy or indifference and to ensure that the films which are passed for exhibition or which are seen, are healthy and desirable and make their due contribution to the building up of national character in its diverse aspects.” 41
Later reports and reviews of the FD would also emphasize this role:
“The achievement of major objectives of our developing economy, self-sufficiency in foodgrains, self-reliance in economic growth, a massive spread of family planning, popularizing scientific knowledge and promoting emotional integration would only be possible if the necessary knowledge, skill and information are conveyed to our people with imagination and appeal by the massive use of media or mass communication.” 42
In the absence of television, documentary film was considered the best tool for informing the population and propagating Nehru’s policies and economic vision, as well as each successive Five Year Plan. 43
Although the FD’s missions were unique to the new nation, the FD was to some extent influenced by other countries. Regular references to Lenin’s statement on cinema being the “most important for communicating to the people the ideals and objectives of the State” 44 appear in several reports, and the FD is compared to other public documentary film institutions such as the National Film Board of Canada and various Soviet film units. 45 A Griersonian approach inherited from former colonial structures prevailed, with documentary film considered as having a “positive social function.” 46 Moreover, “during the period between 1948 and 1964, Chief Producers Mohan Bhavnani (1948–54), V. Shantaram (1954), Jean Bhownagary (1954–56), Ezra Mir (1956–61), and K. L. Khandpur (1962–68), as well as the filmmakers, all belonged to India’s educated social elite and were closely acquainted with British culture and style. The newly independent Government of India also followed the British model by consolidating state control over the FD in order to develop a strong public documentary film service for the country.” 47
At the end of the 1950s, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting established several other institutions related to documentary film. A Children Film Society was set up in 1955, 48 and FD developed collaborations with the Union Ministry of Education in order to foster visual education, by covering topics such as the physical and geographical features of India. A Cartoon Film Unit was established in 1956 with the assistance from a consultant formerly employed at Disney, in order to provide animation inserts in FD documentaries, and to make cartoon films on a regular basis. 49 By the end of 1965, it had produced around 18 of such films. 50 In 1961, the Film Institute of India (now known as the Film & Television Institute of India, FTII), “the premier film teaching institution in the country” 51 opened its doors and many employees of the FD would be enrolled in the years to come as teachers or students. The FD would also provide internship opportunities to the Institute's freshmen, although on an irregular basis. The Film Finance Corporation (FFC, now known as the National Film Development Corporation, NFDC), established in 1960 by the Government of India (GoI), was in charge of “promoting the making of better films,” 52 and finally, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) was founded in 1964.
The 1960s were a troubled time for India, with the war with China (1962), devaluation (1966), the liberation of Goa (1961), the Indo-Pakistan war (1965), and severe drought and famine in Bihar (1966-1967). After Nehru’s death in 1964, Indira Gandhi emerged as the new leader. Deprez notes that “by the mid-1960s, film directors and the general audience were largely disillusioned with Nehru’s policies and his capacity to achieve national unity, economic progress, and social change. These policies were indeed seriously challenged by political, social, and economic unrest, which included peacekeeping on the borders with China and Pakistan, rising Hindu extremism, Marxist movements and tribal activism, a persistent caste system, a religious and community-based society, agricultural and industrial failures (including food shortages and delayed construction works), and financial difficulties resulting from the Indian rupee currency crisis.” 53 It was also a period when FD “fell into a kind of stupor not uncommon with government departments, and churned out films mechanically, mindlessly. Its only concerns were schedules and salaries. There was a persistent criticism in the press as well as the parliament that the documentary film had largely failed to fulfill its social obligations.” 54 As a result, the government decided to appoint the Chanda Committee 55 in 1966 to investigate its media network, including All India Radio (AIR), Doordarshan (DD) and FD. The findings of the committee pointed at various areas of improvement, both internal and related to the working relationship between the FD and the larger film industry. The report also makes clear that while the instructional and informational value of the FD films should still be pursued, more original and critical means of expression should be allowed in some of the productions to revive the institution’s appeal to the audience. Most of the changes suggested were however not implemented, but the report at least highlighted important topics of discussion among policy-makers and intellectuals.
While the FD’s productions seemed to be undermined by both their approach to documentary film form and the political situation in India, new developments in the practices and aesthetics of documentary films were blooming abroad with the advent of direct sound recording techniques and the “cinéma vérité” and “direct cinema” movements. Moreover, “the Indian audience [was] aware of the new development in the documentary world abroad thanks to international film festivals and the film societies.” 56 With the second appointment of J. S. Bhownagary (1965-67) as Deputy Chief Producer, things started to change again, and “a new ‘wave’ of documentary filmmakers bloomed in India too, foreheaded by a group of transitional figures such as Fali Bilimoria, Clement Baptista, Santi Chowdhury and Homi Sethna.” 57 As he did during his first tenure, Bhownagary encouraged a freer approach to documentary and in the mid-1960s, an experimental wave of documentary filmmakers brought new expectations for the audience.
The 1970s was a time of crisis in the country with the socio-political structure looking close to collapse. The economy was slowed down by inflation, unemployment, crime, poverty and government corruption. This was a crucible that produced two revolutionary political figures: George Fernandes and Jay Prakash Narayan. Their protests and sizeable following catalyzed the state of Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to clamp down on dissent and dissatisfaction in the country. Indira Gandhi’s radical measures included the muzzling of the press and use of government-controlled press as propaganda organs. The FD “was gripped by fear as well. The largest documentary unit in the world was reduced to an impotent giant.” 58 The misuse of the media was such that a whopping 12 lakh (120,000) Rupees were spent on funding a four hour-long documentary eulogizing Indira Gandhi. The film suggested that though India had been great in the past it had reached its zenith under Indira. There was no dearth in efforts to build the image of her son Sanjay Gandhi, often thought to be the architect of the Emergency. Doordarshan and FD went to great lengths to give coverage to Sanjay Gandhi and his public activities, and “government-controlled media […] became propaganda instruments of the ruling party and peddlers of a personality cult.” 59
Yet, the progress and experimentation with the documentary medium were not completely abandoned. The “twenty minutes format forced by FD was increasingly discarded in favour of longer films,” 60 and new talents such as Mani Kaul, Shyam Benegal, Kumar Shahani appeared, but the political context was detrimental to their career. 61 Exceptions included Sukhdev “who supported the Emergency” 62 and was assigned a number of films directly by the MIB, against the normal working procedures. 63 The MIB seemed to take over the FD’s role in documentary oversight, and “ordered the FD to purchase a number of films which justified the Emergency.” 64
When the Emergency was finally revoked in March 1977 and the Janata Party came to power, they used the government-controlled media to get back at their political opponents, and the FD continued its slide downwards. By the end of this decade, the FD was not considered as the most important agency of propaganda as the government lent more and more towards public television (Doordarshan). The axe fell with the government cutting both its budget and output. Chidananda Dasgupta wrote in 1984, “Now rumours are afloat that FD is on its deathbed. It is time for scribes to get their obits ready – or so it seems. If true, is it a case of murder, suicide or slow decay? It is alleged that FD has fallen into official neglect and is now being readied for axing. But the seeds of its destruction were planted earlier.” 65
1.3 FD Staff: Hierarchy, recruitment and duties
In the 1966 Chanda Committee report, the FD is described as follows: the FD “is the central film producing organization of the Government of India functioning under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.” The FD “works under a Controller, who, as head of the Department, controls and directs its production and distribution activities.” 66 It is organized into three main wings, respectively responsible for (1) Production, (2) Distribution, and (3) Administration. 67
The Production Wing, which is the largest, is headed by a Chief Producer and a Deputy Chief Producer who both supervise a section of “Technical Services” and a “Production section”.
The Technical Services include a librarian, a laboratory supervisor, an editing team headed by a Chief Editor, a Chief Sound engineer supervising recordists, projection room operators and technical officers, the Chief Cameraman working with Cameramen, their Assistants, and Photographer. The Production Manager supervises Art directors, electricians, make-up technicians and other technical assistants. A Director of Music is assisted by assistants and musicians. The Officer-in-charge of cartoons is working with animators, layout artists and other artists. Finally, a Senior Commentary Writer is working with Script-writers, commentary writers, research assistants and books librarians.
The Production section was at the time composed of 5 producers, including one for Newsreels. Three of the regular Producers worked with 7 Directors, Deputy Directors, and Assistant Directors. One was in charge of the purchase of “ready-made films, negotiation with outside producers, etc.”, while the last Producer (Newsreels) collaborated with an Assistant Producer, A Newsreel Cameraman, a Junior Cameraman and an Editor.
The Distribution Wing was composed of four subsections. One headed by a Branch Manager at the Headquarters was responsible for the “distribution of films on Integrated Publicity Programme (IPP) 68 circuits”, another subsection dealt with the distribution in India and abroad except IPP films, a third subsection was responsible for Distribution accounts, and finally, Branch Managers were responsible of the “distribution of films to cinema houses in India through Branch offices at Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Lucknow and Secunderabad.” The expenditure and revenue figures are reported to be respectively Rs. 9,111,738 (revenue) and 3,000,000 (expenditure) in 1949, and 10 million Rs. and 16 million in 1968. 69
The Administration Wing was headed by an Administration Officer who had 3 sections working under him, headed by two Assistant Administrative Officers. The first one was in charge of the production sections, including the Newsreels Sections, the Costing and Publicity; while the second Assistant Administrative Officer was in charge of Stores and the Central Registry and Issue Section. Finally, an Assistant Accounts Officer managed three subsections, two dedicated to accounts, and the other one to “Budget and Internal audit.”
These numbers and descriptions are quite consistent with the description of the FD Head of Production, Mr. Bodas (2012-2015) who claimed in an interview recorded in 2015 that “FD had around 8 producers and each producer had 3 to 4 directors working under his supervision.” The discrepancies between the chart and the interview reflect certainly the slight evolution of the internal structure of the FD over the years. The FD staff seemed to have successively expanded, increasing by more than twofold during its two first decades, 70 to reach 1700 staff in FD in 1990, against 858 today (as of 2015). 71
As for the internal rules for promotion and training, Bodas continues: “After a few years, directors were promoted as Producer, Joint Chief Producer, and Chief Producer. Once they reached that position, they had become masters in their area and thus could handle the responsibility of Chief Producer.” However, V. S. Kundu, the former Director General of Films Division of India (2012-2015) observes that “the idea of promoting the in-house directors to the rank of Chief Producers did not work very well for the organization. Prior to the Emergency, people were mostly hired from outside as Chief Producer and not promoted within the organization.” 72 He further describes the working relations between directors and producers as follows: “Until the early 1980s, there were no Chief Producers who rose from in-house directors. There was a phase where all the producers were filmmakers or people connected with films. They brought in their own creative inputs, vision and therefore some respect, the quality grew in the Films Division. But when the in-house directors started rising to those positions, a decline came in the output of Films Division. This was primarily due to two reasons. Firstly, these directors used to work in documentary cinema in a certain way and they propagated that particular mode. So, the films made by Films Division during those times became very one-dimensional. They would follow an absolute linear kind of structure and became very boring and less creative. Secondly, since they had spent so much time in the organization, they were involved in internal politics and groupism. Therefore, some in-house directors would be favored amongst others. The internal harmony of the organization got disturbed.” Prior to the Emergency, things seemed to work differently. Research at the National Archives of India reveals that promotion and recruitment could take place on ad-hoc basis, and required “university degree, 15 years of experience, administration experience, knowledge of Indian history, culture and current affairs.” 73 According to the archives, some applicants were trained abroad, for instance at the Moscow film school, or at a TV station in Stockholm. The FD seemed to experience difficulties in recruiting ideal candidates with enough training and low salary expectations. The creation of the Film Institute of India in 1961 was meant to address the problem of professional training of personnel working for FD and the film industry at large. The recruitment process was operated 50% by direct external recruitment and 50% by promotion after at least 3 years working for the FD. 74 Staff could also be transferred from other offices of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, such as the Central Board of Film Censors as “Regional Officer” (posted in Mumbai, Delhi or Calcutta). There was also the possibility of being transferred from the Newsreel to the Documentary Section (and vice-versa), as in the case of N.S. Thapa, who started in the Newsreel section as a cameraman, then moved on to the documentary section, and was transferred back as a producer to the Newsreel section in 1972. However, documents available at the archives highlight issues of stagnation when reaching certain grades, such as Unit Manager, and the FD letters to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regularly underline that they are understaffed.
Spatially, in the 1960s, the FD was distributed in major cities around India, with Bombay as Headquarters where “the Controller, the Chief Producer and others are stationed,” 75 along with two newsreels officers, 2 auditoriums, the Distribution head office and the Bombay Branch office. New Delhi was home to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 4 Newsreels Officers, 1 Auditorium, the Defence Film Wing, the Agriculture and the Family Planning Unit (from. In Lucknow, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Madras were stationed one or two Newsreels Officers and a distribution branch. Nagpur was also home to a Distribution Branch, while Newsreels Cameramen were stationed in Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Bangalore. 76 This ensured a better coverage of the entire country in terms of film distribution and the shooting of newsreels.
Other related institutions were also set up in the late 1960s-early 1970s: “three Ministries had their production wings with FD at Delhi, with staff and funding separate from FD. They were the Defence Film Wing (DFW), the Family Welfare Wing and the Agriculture wing. These films were not released by FD until the Ministries’ approval. The Defence films were mainly produced for training and other internal purposes.” 77 As research in the FD archives reveals, Defence films were usually not included in the FD catalogues, even when funding was provided partly by the FD: “all the training films which are of restricted or classified nature and are not censored, should not be included in the FD catalogue. […] All files concerning these subjects should be in personal possession of the Producer (DFW) and should be dealt with secretly.” 78
The FD’s revenue was partly covered by the rental and sale of its films as figures in the 1996 report indicate. 79
1.3.1 The Production Wing
Initially, one of the important missions of the FD was to produce and release 52 newsreels every year, one every week. These newsreels were called the Indian News Review (INR) and their production started in May 1948 “as a successor to the war-time Indian News Parade.” 80 The newsreels were conceived as a “graphic communication to the Indian masses about the events that were happening all over the country.” 81To guarantee a regular release, the Production Wing was dispatching the workload spatially among the various areas where newsreel filmmaking was needed, and within the central headquarters by the Newsreel Producer. In 1967, “fifteen Newsreels Officers and cameramen [were] posted in different places.” 82 The Newsreels section of the FD became increasingly important, especially “during the mid-fifties [with] more cameramen […] recruited and posted, […] language versions increased […] number of copies leaped up, [… and] changes [took place] in the contents and tones.” 83
Jag Mohan describes the production process as follows: “Equipped with cameras and tape-recorders, the newsreel men operate in their areas, covering events, on their own initiative and in consultation with headquarters. […] Every week by Saturday or at least by Monday, the selection of the items for the new issue of the INR is made [by the Producer]. […] On the basis of the dope sheet sent by the cameramen and the research material provided by the Research Department, the English commentary writer starts to work on the Commentary […] and [is] ready on Monday evening. […] The commentaries [in their various language versions] are recorded on Tuesday. […] By 9:30 am, on Wednesday, the married print is ready for the Film Advisory Board [… with] officers of the Film Censor Board […] also present. […] By Thursday morning the prints […] are ready, […] by evening they are dispatched […] and the Newsreel Department is already on the job for the succeeding week’s INR.” 84
In terms of production processes, “there were 3 ways to make films in Films Division, using in-house directors, freelance directors or outside producers. A production programme was established every year, which combined all the film proposals coming from various ministries, as well as in-house proposals. […] The routine procedure would include a request from a Ministry agency, which would be sent to Films Division, who could then turn to an outsider producer (a private company) to make the film. Once the film was completed, the film would belong to FD and the private company would have no rights over it. One free copy would be sent to the Ministry who requested the film, any subsequent copy would be charged. […] For in-house productions, films were assigned to in-house directors. If the film was sponsored, the sponsors had to provide the background material, the general approach, as well as a specialist of the topic. Based on this initial information, the director wrote a script, which was then cleared by the subject specialist. Then, the shooting arrangements could be prepared, the external sponsor had to provide all facilities. Once the shooting was completed, the rushes were examined and a first edited version of the film was prepared in black and white. The sound was edited on a separate tape. This would provide a rough cut, which had to be approved by the subject specialist. Re-recording could then take place and a married print up to 20 minutes was produced. The first married print was made for censorship purposes, after which the film could be released. […] If a film was made with an outside producer, FD would receive their budget, FD finance committee would scrutinize it according to their own costing norms. Once approved, FD would assign the film to the concerned producer for a consolidated budget. […] These procedures are still valid today.” 85
Documents available at the FD archive present records of the administrative procedures needed to carry out the production of the films. They revolved around a document called the “line of approach” “given by the Department/Ministry who sponsors the film.” The “line of approach” document “gives the central idea/purpose” of the film detailed in 19 items including length, screening time, format, budget, synopsis, “classification of the film i.e. for cinema release of for rural circulation or for specialized audiences;” information on the “subject specialist for checking factual accuracy;” and “language versions required.” 86
Bodas adds that “80 to 90% of the production was provided by in-house filmmakers,” but in the early days of the FD, it was understood that outside producers could only provide 16 documentaries out of the 52 planned annually, a very low number that created discontent in the independent circle. Without comprehensive breakdown figures for the whole period, it seems difficult to assess it the figures are correct at any point in time.
In any case, “all the newsreels as well as the documentaries whether produced by the FD or taken over from private producers [were] previewed by the Film Advisory Board appointed by the Government of India in 1949. After a newsreel or documentary has been passed by this board, they [were] seen and certified in the usual course by the Board of Film Censors in Bombay.” 87 Archival research unearths the films’ reviewing process. Letters found at the FD’s Archives show the nature of the exchange and their straightforward style. For instance, in December 1976, the producer of Birth of a Leader,P.N. Kaul, was transferring a letter from the Chief Producer Mushir Ahmad to the film director Nishish Banerjee, in which he let him know of Mushir Ahmad’s feelings: “he was literally shocked. In his opinion the overall quality of the film is very poor. The way the commentary is written and spoken is unacceptable.” Following files required the issue of “another print,” and another preview “to clarify whether both words and voice have to be improved.” 88 While the film was nearing completion, Producer S.N.S. Sastry required the titles to be reshot after noticing “pin-holes and scratches” on the picture negatives in a message dated September 1977. Meanwhile, the film was renamed “Luxmi” 89 and exchanges about the film probably went on until it was released.
In terms of workload, Bodas tells us that “each director had to produce at least three films per year or 6 reels. 4 ‘quickies’ (shorter documentaries of 3 to 4 minutes) counted for 1 film”. Figures about the ratio of films per director differ according to sources, probably because they evolved over time, but also because it was an area of debate within the FD and in relation to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. An official document issued by the Public Accounts Committee of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting dating of 22 June 1979 finds that “the targets of production of the FD are invariably less than the overall capacity of the Division.” From there, the norms of production were increased to reflect the actual production capacity of the filmmakers who would always produce more than the fixed numbers. It was finally decided that the “norms per Director should be 4 films per year,” with “no credit […] given to Directors” for “Compilation Films” (defined as “a film […] prepared out of the existing exposed material and were (sic) very little fresh shooting is done”), and half a credit for “special Newsreels” (defined as “film which is required for Record and Presentation, and involves fresh shooting.”) 90
While the initial production planning of the FD aimed at a weekly release of one new documentary, the institution was not always able to keep up with the quota internally. The 1951 official report highlights that the government had to purchase documentaries from private producers to meet the 52 documentary quota per annum. 91 Indeed, “In the year 1949-50, the FD produced 32 black and white documentaries, one colour film and 52 newsreels as well as 12 compilations”. A 1961 document at the National Archives of India indicates that the FD’s normal annual production of 98 films of which 22 are assigned to outside producers. 92 In 1962-63, the production target was 120 films, but NAI archival files indicate that that year the quota was not met either. In 1963-64, the target was 100, including 18 instructional films. 93 The situation seemed to improve dramatically during the first two decades of the FD, with numbers increasing to “142 films including 12 colour films, 52 newsreels and 5 compilations most of which were dubbed in 14 languages” 94 in 1967-68. The issue of regional languages was an important one, as it allowed the FD films to be better understood and reach out to a larger audience. Archival documents found at the FD highlight the existence of a continuous effort to represent more languages in the FD production (especially for Newsreels), while at the same time reporting “economic difficulty.” 95 The same archival file notes the importance of accurately representing the various regions where the films are supposed to be shot. Also, “in filming subjects relating to agriculture, village life, community development, etc. special attention should be paid to making the films in the appropriate part of the country where the film is likely ultimately to be exploited.” 96 The administration was also concerned that in any film “no area or region appears to have a bias in the depiction” and that they should avoid “predominance of artists […] from Bombay or Calcutta.” 97 In 1964, the Vidyalankar report also recommended that “a portion of the documentaries should a have regional complexion” and advocated for “diverse regional coverage.” 98 It appears therefore that some films were approved for release in accordance to local sensitivities towards a topic or another. For instance, files at the NAI reveal that in 1964 audiences in Kashmir reacted with “anti-Indian slogans” and manifested pro-Sheikh Abdullah sentiments after screenings, which prompted authorities to focus on topics such as “planning and development”, “democracy and secularism”, and “national unity and integration.” 99
In terms of topics, the documentaries subjects ranged from agriculture, industry, health, sanitation, family planning, literacy, community welfare and rural crafts and development. Most films tried to convey a simple and direct message which could be understood both by educated and illiterate, rural and urban audiences. In his 1969 historical review of the FD, Jag Mohan breaks down the types of documentaries into 7 categories: “Art and Experimental films” dealing with Indian architectural heritage, traditional arts and crafts, as well as experimental documentary films; “Biography and Personality Films” [included films such as Satyajit Ray’s Rabindranath Tagore (1961), or S. N. S. Sastry’s Portrait of a Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi) (1974) 100 ]; “Classroom films and Children Films” including cartoons; “Educational, Instructional and Motivational Films” among which were films made for army-training purposes, but also documentaries on agriculture, safety, hygiene, and everyday life; “Export and Tourist Promotion Films” targeting the international market and consisted in travelogues or in films promoting Indian culture; “Feature length and feature type films” were ambitious documentaries that exceeded the usual 20 minutes format; and finally, the “Visit Films” reporting on various dignitaries’ visits to India or on official meetings abroad.
1.3.2 The Distribution Wing
In 1969, as an introduction to his description of the FD Distribution Wing, Jag Mohan writes: “it is one of the largest in the world in terms of quantum of work, diversity and circuits, regularity throughout the year and the number of items handled.” Indeed, the figures are impressive: the Wing “supplies for 6541 cinemas in the country […] and every year, the cinemas are going up in number – on an average of 400. […] A minimum of 52 newsreels and 52 documentaries are put in circulation on rental basis every year. In 1967-68, this Wing supplied 33813 prints in 35 mm and 16 mm formats.” 101 By contrast, when the FD was established in 1949, the number of prints supplied was 5408. 102
These high numbers are due to the “compulsory exhibition scheme, [under which in 1966] 5456 cinema houses in the country [were] obliged by law to exhibit films approved by the Central Government, on the recommendation of the Film Advisory Board, and [had] entered into an agreement with the FD for the regular supply of weekly newsreels and documentary films for exhibition.” 103 As Mohan argues, “the success of the Wing’s theatrical circuit rests on the fact that it is mandatory for every cinema in the country to screen an “approved film” at every show. […] The cinema enters into contract with the FD and screens the “approved films”, paying a service charge according to the earning capacity of the cinemas. This works out at one percent of the net revenue after payment of entertainment and other taxes. This rental/service charge varies from a minimum of Rs. 2.50 to Rs. 400 a week.” 104 According to the 1966 report, “rentals are collected in advance every month on the basis of earnings of the previous year.” 105
The Wing operated the distribution of copies according to a specific system: “A booking chart distinguished A, B and C grade theatres. The new films would be released in the A grade theatres, which were found in the main cities, before reaching smaller towns.” 106 The 1966 report indicates that “the first run cinema houses pass on the print to ‘second run’ cinema houses who, in turn, pass them to others and the circuit is completed in about a year.” 107 With compulsory viewing of its films, the FD had a weekly estimated audience of between 16 million in 1948 to 30 million in 1968, although figures vary according to sources. 108 Independent film historian Dharamsey Bhai recalls that “alternative screenings were organised on a weekly basis. One week, a first run theatre would screen newsreels and the next week, it would screen a documentary, both before the screening of the feature length fiction film. The second run theatres would show older documentaries and newsreels.” 109
The Distribution Wing was also responsible for supplying films to public institutions, with “one copy to the Ministry who requested the film, such as the Family Welfare department (for their own use and mobile screenings). [… and] 16 mm copies to the directorate of film publicity, an agency of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.” 110 Besides supervising the regular distribution in urban film theatres, which was mandatory for obtaining and keeping an exhibitor’s licence, the Distribution Wing was also in charge of exporting non-fiction films abroad 111 and selling prints to “private parties,” or other sponsors.
Since the regular theatrical distribution operated in large cities was only reaching urban audiences, the FD also had to conduct screening in more remote rural areas where no screening infrastructures existed. 112 Bodas recalls that “right from the beginnings of FD, they had their mobile vans and arranged screenings in rural areas. This department still exists today. These mobile screenings were meant to reach the lower and uneducated categories of society.” 113 These rural screenings of FD films were in certain circumstances operated locally by the local states' authorities as the 1966 report explains: “A prescribed number of documentaries and newsreels are supplied to the State Governments and to the Director of Field Publicity and some other governmental organisations free of cost for exhibition through mobile vans and through a few projection centres. The number of these prints amounts to approximately 12000 a year.” 114 To get an idea of how these mobile film screenings worked, here is a 1949 description of the “Mobile propaganda van of the Bombay provincial Prohibition board.” 115 According to S. H. Adivarekar, it was composed of a fleet of 12 vans covering all 25 districts. A driver, a cleaner, and a screening operator were embarked “between fifteen days and a month” in a van containing “a loudspeaker, an amplifier, a generator, a sound projector, and a gramophone. [Films were screened to] a crowd of as many as five thousand persons.” The screenings were advertised by the local authorities to the population, and the screening took place on a stage set by the villagers. As electricity was scarce, the screenings were made possible by the use of a petrol generator, with the amplifier “fed by a battery which [was] connected with that of the motor engine and [got] continuously charged when the engine [was] running.” 116 At the time, the screening programme included “films on education, prohibition, sports, newsreels, Chaplin movies, and Walt Disney cartoons”. These films were purchased from independent producers, borrowed from governmental departments and foreign organisations such as the British Information Services, and the United States Information Services. In 2015, Bodas adds another film category specially released for this kind of audiences, the “16 mm featurettes for rural audiences.” These were “fiction with a social message […] not released in theatres. Topics could be on child labor, family planning, superstitions and so on. The government perceived them as even more efficient than documentaries to reach out their message to uneducated audiences.” 117
1.4 Role and significance of the main organizers, producers and filmmakers
Biographical details on the main organizers and filmmakers of the FD are at times hard to come by. Here is some information collected on some of the most important figures.
Mohan Bhavnani (Chief Producer 1948-54)
Mohan Bhavnani was the first head of FD right after Independence. Bhavnani was trained in the feature film tradition in England and Berlin, and his resourcefulness and organizational ability were critical to the FD. Influences of his training are visible in the films he made prior to being enrolled at FD (Vasantsena, 1930), but the most controversial of his films was The Mill (1934) on the exploitation of workers by mill owners, which was censored. At the FD, Bhavnani adopted a practical and utilitarian approach, making a lot of films cheaply and quickly for an heterogeneous audience not too concerned with the creative aspects of documentary filmmaking. As B.D. Garga observed, “Bhavnani’s one undoubted contribution, however, was his vast organizational resourcefulness. He brought order and efficiency to the set up. He saw to it that newsreels were released in time to retain their ‘newsiness’. He secured the most up to date equipment for his technicians. In short, he was a capable manager.” 118 In 1955, Bhavnani’s tenure was cut short by the government, but by the time he retired he had put the organization on firm footing, both infrastructurally as well as in terms of the quality of films being made. 119
An example of this kind of film is Basic Education (1950) produced by Bhavnani and directed by Director Jagat Murari for the FD. “This propaganda documentary reveals the Indian government's plan for education in the early years of independence, as the country faces high illiteracy rates, especially in rural areas. In this earlier documentary, the filming technique remains quite conventional and include a fixed camera, no direct dialogues and on location sounds, and images reinforcing the commentary. According to the film, the Basic Education Programmes are not only aimed at educating the youth, but constitute a self-contained and self-sufficient scheme applied to the community where the school is located, and benefits the productivity and development of the whole nation. The film refers to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, who was highly regarded by the entire population of India, as a way to facilitate the promotion of the Basic Education Programmes. This documentary not only emphasizes the crucial use of Basic Education in improving the general economic and social situation of the country, but also injects a sense of good citizenship, whereby enrolled students are committed to certain roles and responsibility to the school and community. However, the down sides of these occupational schools are not included in the film and the point of view of the teachers and students involved in the scheme are not represented.” 120
Jehangir S. (Jean) Bhownagary (Chief Producer 1954-56 & 1965-67)
After V. Shantaram’s short tenure (1954), Bhavnani was replaced by Jean Bhownagary, a half-Parsi, half-French expert from UNESCO and a former writer and researcher at IFI. In contrast to his predecessors, he was far more concerned with the quality and creative aspects of documentary filmmaking having been exposed to documentary filmmaking in the West. According to his daughter, he was “interested in art at an early age. He did theater and comedy in his youth and he was a very well-known actor. He was known as one of the five kings of comedy. My father was also into magic at an early age, starting when he was just 8 years old. Magic was his big passion, along with poetry, pottery, and printing. […] He was influenced and inspired by the French New Wave, which certainly had an influence on Films Division.” 121
He welcomed independent producers at the FD realizing that they would be of critical importance in raising the quality level of the films. It led to a creative outpouring and a flurry of films in the 1950s and 1960s. Bhownagary himself described his agenda in driving the FD: “We started by trying to make films that would help build the nation, build a sense of citizenship and community. In this process, the first step was to inform our people about our own country. Bengal knew little of Kerala, Tamil Nadu of Punjab, Orissa of Gujarat. The common heritage had to be brought to light for the truth of unity to be proclaimed, to be illuminated by the gift of diversity so that we, as a sub-continent, may in our unity be enriched by our very differences.” 122 Films on Indian culture and heritage abound in his filmography. He notably collaborated with Shanti Verma to make Radha and Krishna (1959), which detailed the fusion of style and forms in painting between Mughal, Pahari and Rajput traditions: “This film is based on Kangra miniature paintings. It was the first time miniature paintings were so well used, and it has not been equaled even in James Ivory’s ‘The Sword and the Flute’. I was deeply impressed by how the camera moved over these paintings and how well integrated the music was in ‘Radha and Krishna’. I must have seen this film 7 or 8 times,” 123 observes independent film historian Dharamsey Bhai. During his second tenure at the FD, Bhownagary further collaborated with private companies and independent filmmakers and was responsible for discovering or fostering the most talented and irreverent Indian documentary filmmakers of the times. This led to a wave of experimental documentaries. 124
Ezra Mir (Chief Producer 1956-61)
Ezra Mir was made Chief Producer in 1956. Prior to Independence, he was essentially a feature filmmaker trained in Hollywood studios. His shift to documentaries came during the War years between 1939 and 1944, inspired by the documentary serial March of Time (1931-1945). Using stock shots sent to him by Universal studios and Twentieth Century Fox, he produced Road to Victory which was one of the first documentaries made during the war in India. This is how he viewed his time in the FD: “During the five years that I held the assignment, the FD produced over 400 documentaries. I used to spend three fourths of my time in the editing room, personally editing every film produced at the FD. It is my firm belief that editing is at the very heart and soul of filmmaking and that unless the editing of a film is of the highest order, no documentary can be a success.” 125 Ezra Mir retired in December 1961 and his departure was followed by a series of administrators – N.J. Kamath, S.Y. Ranade and S.N. Limaye – who had very little to do with film but were able administrators.
Director, administrator and educationist Jagat Murari belonged to the Films Division’s in-house team, working as a director and producer from 1948 to 1961. He won the first President's Gold Medal for his 1954 documentary film Mahabalipuram, besides several other national and international awards. After a Masters in Physics at Patna University (Bihar), he was awarded a scholarship at the University of Southern California and did an internship with Orson Welles on ‘Macbeth’ (1948). His wife and daughter recall that “One thing he learned was that extreme creativity and meticulous planning can go together.” 126 He “joined FD in November 1948, a few months after its creation […] as a deputy director, then rose up the FD ranks to become a director, and then assistant producer. By the time [he] left FD in 1961 to go to Poona (to set up the Film Institute), he had written and directed 37 films. From 1959 to 1961, in his role as producer, he produced an additional 43 films.” He then “took charge of the whole Film Institute FTII (Poona) around 1961 [… and was] influential for parallel cinema filmmakers Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, [and] Adoor Gopalakrishnan. […] Then, he was at the Film Festival Directorate, and it was the only time in his professional life when he was not directly involved in film production. In 1976, he went back to the Film Institute and retired from there in 1979. From 1979, he returned to his first love, documentary filmmaking, working as a producer, director and scriptwriter and made 10 films, some for FD, some for other organisations.” 127
P. R. S. Pillay (filmmaker, administrator) was born the southern state of Kerala and worked as assistant director at the Gemini Studios in Madras in the 1950s. According to his son, P.R.S. Pillay “convinced his father to set up a film company. He came back to his hometown and started a film company called ‘Kalasagar Films’ he produced and directed a feature film, called Thiramala (Waves, 1953).” Following a box-office failure, he closed down the company and joined FD from 1954 to 1962, scripting, directing, researching, and filming newsreels and topicals. He then worked in Delhi for the Army Forces Films Division of the Ministry of Defence in Delhi from 1966 to 1975, eventually becoming the head of this organization. P.R.S. Pillay’s son remembers that “it required my father and his team to often go to sensitive areas to shoot live situations. [… Later,] my father left Delhi and returned to Kerala in 1975 as the chairman of Chitranjali film studio complex. They had several studio floors, complete recording facilities and laboratories. If a film-maker had an idea, he could approach this studio, write down his idea, complete the script, shoot the film, record it, process it, and complete it, all in one place. Part of the vision for this particular project was to set up a chain of theatres in Kerala, so they could release the films in the chain of theatres and ensure these films were exhibited. My father was the chairman initially for 5 years and his appointment was extended for 3 years twice. I think he was there as Chairman for about 11 years in total. He gave a whole new vision to the Malayalam film industry. He is basically responsible for transplanting the film industry from Madras to Kerala.” 128
Mushir Ahmad (filmmaker, producer and educationist)
Talmiz Ahmad recalls his father’s life as follows: “My father did his Master’s degree in cinema from the University of Southern California over the period from 1946 to 1948. His Bachelor’s degree was in Persian language and literature. By then, all the other scholarships had been allotted, [and] the only scholarship left was for cinema studies. […] My father joined FD as a deputy director in 1948. Most of his career was with FD. In the last part of his career, in 1975, he became the head of FD for 5 years. He worked in FD from deputy director to director, and from director he became producer. When he was a producer, he left FD and went to the Film Institute of India in Pune in 1967, and worked there till 1970. He went to Delhi in 1971-75, where he was the head of separate units of FD, which made films on defence, agriculture and family planning. The office was in Delhi because, for these three subjects, they needed to work very closely with the government departments concerned. The films on defence were made for the Defence Ministry; they were training films and not screened for general audiences. Agriculture and family planning films were made for the general audience, but they were also training films: agriculture films were mainly made for farmers, not for the general circuit. Family planning films were for the field social workers who promoted family planning programmes. Thus, these were highly specialised films made for education and training purposes. He then returned to FD as additional chief producer, and became chief producer five years later from 1975 to 1980. […] As a filmmaker himself, my father was happy to go for hard issues, even critical of some of the developments in our country, but he would not allow the use of government resources for films that did not serve public purposes. He admired creative art filmmakers, but he did not think government resources should be used to support their personal vision that contradicted the public interest.” 129
1.5 Limits and challenges to this institution
As a public institution with an important mission of educating the masses and propagating official discourses, as well as holding a de facto monopoly on documentary film distribution, the FD was bound to receive criticism from many parties, both internally and externally. The scale of its operations in a developing new democracy also meant that the FD met many challenges, obstacles and limits over the period from 1948 to 1975.
1.5.1 Financial and material resources
Although protected and comparatively well-doted by the government, the FD lacked many financial and material resources. A 1961 file from the National Archives of India deals extensively with the FD’s need to diversify and expand its sources of funding, so as to attain “self-sufficiency”. The following suggestions were made: “improve distribution at home and abroad, and adopt the model of “a commercial organization, with more freedom for the head of FD to formulate film projects, hire staff for the Distribution wing and so on.” 130 One of the main basic concerns for the FD was the supply in raw film, which was imported and expensive, and processed outside the institution, in laboratories belonging to the commercial film sector. 131 Many FD departments seemed to operate in a working environment lacking space and basic amenities for the staff, at least in the first two decades. 132 The equipment was limited, often quite outdated, and even obsolete at times, and the FD was slow to adopt 16 mm and direct sound and colour technologies. 133 This was seen as particularly detrimental to the development of scientific and information films, especially in terms of distribution in places far of reach in rural India: “We hope a day will come when every village, every school and every educational, vocational and professional institution will have a 16 mm projector and audiovisual centre. Then alone will the information film play its rightful part in the life of the people and become a dynamic force in shaping the future of our country.” 134 Finally, preserving and archiving the films produced by the FD was already pointed at in 1951 and later became an endemic problem. 135 Film libraries were considered of utmost importance to store and disseminate knowledge in schools and elsewhere, but in the 1950s and 1960s, very few existed and the FD itself was not able to properly preserve its productions and equipment.
1.5.2 Challenges and debates
Besides these financial and material issues, many official reports and other publications indicate challenges of another nature. In 1951, the Film Enquiry Committee already noted “without necessarily sharing them” 136 many critical comments on FD films emanating from the film sector, attributing them mostly to the compulsory screening scheme. In 1966 however, the Chanda Committee report included in its list of “problems,” detailed observations on the quality of the films produced, showing a greater awareness on the issue: “the documentaries contain largely propaganda material for Government and its activities. […] They do not pose faithfully the problems and needs of the country and provoke constructive thinking. […] The films are conceived poorly and executed indifferently, they bear the impress of films made in the thirties. […] Those making them do not feel involved in their ideology and purpose.” 137 To these problems were added a poor conception of the use of music and sound, and “undue reliance on the commentary to explain what is being portrayed.” 138 Another key problem that does not appear in the reports seemed to be related to the administration of FD, threatening to overrule the creativity of its staff, so much so that a frustrated filmmaker called it the “Files Division.” 139 An important recommendation of the Chanda Committee was that the FD be made into an autonomous, statutory body, like the National Film Board of Canada, but this was never carried out.
The debates within and outside the FD discussed the social function of documentary, and the difficult balance to strike between form and content, documentary’s informative function and artistic value.
For instance, in 1967, filmmaker P. R. S. Pillay summed up the role of documentary as follow:
- Creation of a feeling of unity and oneness among the different sections of the people as well as a feeling of love and pride for the country’s traditions and achievements.
- Creation of a favourable psychological atmosphere for the implementation of far reaching socio-economic reforms.
- Diffusion and knowledge among the people on health, hygiene and better ways of life.
- Building up the morale of the people and moving them into coordinated action in times of emergencies.
- Presentation of our heritage, way of life, objectives and achievements to the outside world with a view to promote understanding among the nations.
For others, like independent filmmaker Fali Bilimoria, the Government’s monopoly was highly unproductive, and he advocated for a reassessment of the film’s distribution method: propaganda films had “a better chance of acceptance in a school or a factory” (as opposed to before the screening of a fiction movie) and “only [films] found to be sufficiently interesting and entertaining should go through general release with feature films.” 141 He added that “propaganda should come […] with a sugar coating.” 142 The awareness of those problems was shared even among higher administrators at the FD, such as K.L. Khandpur. He wrote about the exhibitors’ opposition to mandatory screenings, while at the same time acknowledged the “necessity of the propagation of news in the film form.” He saw the FD as being torn between the “expectations of the audience and exhibitors, [its] current missions, and the expectations of the government.” 143
According to various accounts, Nehru was following quite closely the efforts of the FD and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as did his successors. Filmmaker N.P. Thapa recalled: “Suggestions for the making of documentaries were often received from the President and Prime Minister who could show a great interest in the quality of short films by previewing them regularly.” 144 Archive documents also highlight that point. R.R. Diwakar, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, remembers that Nehru “knew the value of publicity” and protected the FD when it was criticized. 145 The propagandist role of the FD included promoting India’s model of planned economy. S.K. Patil, Chairman of the 1951 Film Enquiry Committee, shared the official line of argument: “the documentary film has a very important and positive role to play in educating our vast masses and more particularly in inducing their voluntary cooperation for the successful implementation of our Second Five Year Plan. […] The Plan has, therefore, to be explained to the people in a manner that they will understand and appreciate it. No medium will be able to do this job as effectively as the motion picture. The motion picture in this case is the documentary. […] It is the duty both of Government and the people to support all measures calculated to advance the progress of Indian documentary.” 146 In fact, archival research at the FD shows that “towards the end of 1953, a special programme of production for meeting the publicity requirements of the Plans was inaugurated.” 147 It was referred to as “Five Year Plan Publicity Films” and as “Integrated Publicity Programme” (IPP) in a 1963 file at the NAI. 148 They were the object of specific attention, being reviewed for their supposed impact on the public, among various administrations. 149 The Vidyalankar report indicates “33 documentaries of Plan interest during the first Plan period, 123 during the Second Plan period and 84 during the first two years of the Third Plan period were produced.” 150 That report included a questionnaire-based study of viewers’ reactions chosen from officials and non-officials, representatives of governments and film professionals. Their general assessment was mainly positive, especially for screenings organized in urban areas, which were well-covered by the FD Distribution Wing.
As a result of the close relation between the State and the documentary, this film form was automatically associated with politics. C. E. Dust sees this as detrimental: “Already in India, the public have learnt to regard the word “documentary” as synonymous with government [… and] people try to avoid government sponsored films.” 151 For him, “the ‘documentary’ used purely for educational or propaganda [purposes], will surely fail. If, however, the message […] is combined with artistry, human appeal and good entertainment it will surely succeed – despite its name.” 152 N.V.K. Murthy, a FD Newsreel producer active in the 1960s, acknowledged that “some of the films went overboard with their good intentions and painted, perhaps, a too rosy picture of our planned economy. The people were led to believe that once the plans were completed the country would flow with milk and honey. When this did not happen, the films lost their credibility and thereby their audiences.” The films’ “loss of credibility” was therefore not only due to their form, but also to “poor political planning.” 153
Many criticized the FD films for being “too similar” in terms of film form and content. B.D. Garga goes further in 1960, claiming that some of the FD films which were supposed to “bring about an ‘emotional integration’ […] [were] a sort of Tourist office pamphlet and not any serious, profound and realistic study of people and situations. […] The bulk of the FD’s work suffer[ed] from over-written, rhetorical commentaries, shop soiled techniques and the dead weight of conventionalism.” 154 For H. Mahmood, “Films Division cannot make good films”, since “documentary as an informational film is an aggressive form of art in which deliberate projection of ideas or a set of ideas bears heavily on contrivance.” 155 Analyzing the causes of this institutional failure, he remarked that “documentary filmmaking in the FD [was] devoid of experience and hence of conviction. Manufacturing a film to satisfy standard requirements of fixed objectives leaves no room for full play of passion and thoughts.” He criticized the working process and suggested that the “writer, director and cameraman should work closely,” eventually going onsite to get an “experience.” Only then should they start writing a script. “Then the script should get approved or rediscussed with the sponsors and everyone involved, and including (sic) their remarks.” 156
Those who advocated for a more diversified and daring documentary form found solid opposing arguments from those supporting the educative function of FD. This debate is particularly manifest in Four Time Five, published at the occasion of the 20 years anniversary of the FD, after a wave of experimental documentaries were produced by FD. Many contributors – often independent – emphasized the importance of experimentation in the making of documentaries, including Clement Baptista, who advocated to “find more funds for creative films,” 157 or Paul Zils, who claimed that “what is wanted and needed in India is a free Documentary Movement.” 158 Others, such as S. Krishnaswamy and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas criticized the “experimental turn” at the FD, as for them documentary was mainly a mass communication tool. They also feared that the cost of making such films at the public expense could be problematic. 159 V. Shantaram also emphasized that the mission of the FD was not to win international awards, but help the “farmer change his old habits and take up the challenge of producing more grain.” To him, “art abstruse [was] a luxury which the FD [could not] afford at the expense of its main task of enlightening and educating the masses.” 160
1.5.3 Distribution, compulsory exhibition and audience
The debates around the FD films were fuelled by observations or expectations regarding film viewers. The Chanda report claims it is “necessary to distinguish between audiences and audiences,” 161 meaning that here, the FD was following the same line of thoughts as the previous colonial film institutions where three groups were considered: “Western-educated and English-speaking urban elite; the city audience, which mixed the middle with the working classes (both constituted the main audience for FD documentaries); and the rural audiences.” 162 A very utilitarian approach dominated for the third group, with many commentators within and outside FD advocating for adapting films to the supposed local tastes and need of rural populations. It was deemed crucial to “make movies which can help villagers” and “give an effective freedom to the minds of our daydreaming giant of rural India.” 163 In the same journal issue, M. Bhavani explained that “the real art of making a good documentary lies in thinking out the correct approach of how to put over the subject effectively to the particular types of audiences, so as to create a lasting impression on them.” 164 He further detailed the reception problems for rural audiences: “we found for instance, that the techniques employed in the modern documentary, were more suited to educated audiences, who could understand devices like “wipes”, “flashbacks”, “dissolves”, and fast tempo.” According to him, “rural and illiterate audience gets restless, if they are given sessions of long documentary covering one subject.” At the same time, in order for the rural audience to “fully imbibe the force of the message, […] sometime shots were repeated to stress the main idea of the theme. These innovations were done chiefly in films dealing with health, farming, hygiene and literacy […] Sometimes these subjects were told in story form, in which there is a principal character, around whom the narrative is woven.” To this were added “animated charts, diagrams and maps [and] entertaining and amusing incidents and lively commentary.” 165 Archive documents show that this was an accepted and widespread point of view in the administration. In 1957, for instance, V.S. Varma, insisted that in the film How to Grow more Paddy, “tempo should be kept low so as the rural audience can understand it easily.” 166
While the rural audience was perceived as requiring an entirely different film language and special didactic efforts from the FD, they were also objectively much harder to attain. Despite the geographical distribution of the FD branches, this was definitely one of its biggest limitations. The 1951 report points at delays in distribution, problems of transportation and therefore timeliness in the release of certain films (especially newsreels). 167 The screening context was often far from ideal in rural areas, as Saulat Rahman and others observe. The sound conditions were particularly bad, with the “commentary [being] either not heard, or if heard, not understood, because of the difficulties of language, or those created by the rapid pace at which new ideas and arguments [were] put across.” 168
Another related source of problems was the relationship between the FD and the commercial exhibitors, who resented the compulsory screening system. This issue frequently mentioned in official texts and reports, as well as in other publications, was the cause of a strike on 30 June 1949. It was described in the magazine Indian Documentary as a problem both for the exhibitors and the independent or outside documentary film producers and makers: “on top of this monumental burden [taxes] now appears the spectre of a further imposition, the compulsory screening of “approved” short films in all cinemas which are also obliged to pay for this doubtful compliment.” 169 The approval process of outside films was also criticized as it seemed to the private film sector that no transparency existed in reviewing them, and furthermore, because no guarantee of purchase by the FD existed for commissioned films. Their point of view was duly reported in the 1951 report and later publications: “the exhibitors argue that the Government derived publicity and advertisement value by the screening of the newsreels and the documentaries and should, therefore, pay for them in the same manner as they pay for advertisement in newspapers.” 170
Despite a significant increase throughout the period from 1948 to 1975, the insufficient number of cinema theatres in operation was also an issue for the distribution of FD films. Archival research shows that the government was aware of the problem, with statistics indicating that in 1972 “only 7291 permanent and temporary cinemas [were available] in the country (one cinema unit for 70,000 people).” The files indicate that “every Indian sees five pictures annually,” a number far too low for the purposes of mass communication. According to the documents, “India should have 27,500 cinema units” and the authors suggested that “state incentives should be provided” to establish more film theatres. 171
2. The Private Organizations Involved (1948-1975)
2.1 Role of foreign agencies
From 1948 to 1975, the documentary film landscape in India was not restricted to the FD and also included other important contributors. Foreign agencies were particularly active during the 1940s and 1950s, and they were especially significant because they participated in nurturing an independent documentary film sector by producing or sponsoring films that were either relevant to their operations or considered for their own merit. While there was increased activity in documentary filmmaking with the FD producing and distributing films, the bureaucracy of the FD was reluctant to commission films from independent filmmakers. Narwerkar notes that “The independent had to pay the exhibitors to screen their films during the institutional gap [between IFI and FD], and were uneasy with the newly formed FD for fear of not being able to screen theirs.” 172 Later on, even though the FD was growing more open to commission films from independent producers or freelance filmmakers, commercial distribution opportunities for independent documentaries remained scarce, and so did the funding. 173 These independent filmmakers were however already active before the official institution was created and had shaped much of the Indian documentary film history before Independent India. It is in this context that a much-needed support from foreign agencies emerged. Garga recalls the “ample sponsorship to independent filmmakers by agencies like the US Information Service (USIS), American Technical Cooperation Mission (TMC), Burmah Shell, and industrials like Tata, Scindia, ICI, Hindustan Lever, ITC and Dunlop.” 174 This situation was not unique to India, and in the UK and the US, R.M. Ray observed that “besides […] professional groups, small manufacturers and big industrialists sponsor[ed] the making of films connected with their products, not purely for purposes of advertisements but information films to show how these products [were] made and what research and know-how [could] go into their particular industry. The big industrialists [went] even beyond this stage and [made] general interest film for the public as a matter of prestige.” 175 One of such foreign companies based in India, Shell, was notorious for the production of documentaries, with its Burmah Shell Film Unit. S. Tallents remembers how the company turned to film: “In 1933, the Shell Group reviewed the general policy of its approach to the public and in particular the employment of films for its purposes.” 176 According to his account, John Grierson was involved with advising the company to develop six lines of film production relevant to the “interests of the Shell Group” or for “public service.” Gathering outside talents, they also worked for the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Defence during the Second World War, and they opened several film units in Australia, Egypt, India and Venezuela, producing films on cars and airplanes, the oil industry, but also on agriculture. 177
Canadian filmmaker James Beveridge who had assisted in setting up the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) came to India heading the film unit of Burmah Shell between 1954 and 1958. According to Camille Deprez, he was “clearly influenced by the British film tradition, [being] trained by Grierson in the late 1930s and 1940s.” 178 He was pivotal in working on the “production of 50 films (150 reels), including 15 color reels.” 179 These films focused on several aspects of developing India (Major industries in India, Village industries of India), but also everyday life and culture (Life in India, Folk Dances of India). According to most accounts, James Beveridge fostered “creative freedom”, and valued “advice from scientists and writers.” 180 Some of the most remarkable achievements of the commissions by the Burmah Shell to independent filmmakers were Paul Zils’s Ujala (1954); Fali Bilimoria’s A Village in Travancore (1956); Hari Sandhan Dasgupta’s Weavers of Maindargi (1957); V.M. Vijaykar’s Kabuliram; Clement Baptista’s Look to the sky, Das Gupta’s The Story of Steel (1956) and Martial Dances of Malabar (1957).
James Beveridge’s daughter recounts her father’s involvement in the Burmah Shell Film Unit: “He was embedded full time at FD in the role of Executive Producer with the Burma-Shell Film Unit. His involvement with other commercial filmmakers included making many prominent contacts in the commercial film industry and endeavouring to engage talented filmmakers in the Burmah-Shell project.” 181 Atma Ram, one of the filmmakers who worked extensively with Beveridge describes working with him: “He did not come with determined ideas about the film programme. […] He allowed conditions and circumstances, ideas and current opinions shape his thinking. He listened to economists, writers, artists, and office colleagues airing their views about India and her people. Out of it all came films sometimes tailored to the requirements of the sponsor, sometimes to that of the country as a whole. They have been made by different filmmakers and yet, they all bear the undeniable mark of his personality.” 182
The Burmah Shell Film Unit closed down its film operations in India at the end of the 1950s. Beveridge’s daughter sheds some light on what the reasons for its closure might have been: “I heard that there was a backlash from the Indian business community over some of the Burmah-Shell industrial films. They felt the films with their wide distribution gave unfair advantage to specific business entities, but I don’t know much more about it. My father was more involved in the cultural films that the Burmah-Shell unit made and those were the films that I had access to. There was a specific timeframe for the duration and sponsorship of the Burmah-Shell project, I do not believe it was intended to be permanent. It was a sponsorship arrangement, where Burma-Shell came in with funding for a set period of time and then the programme ended.” 183 The Burmah Shell Unit was in fact not the only one to scale down or close operations at the end of the 1950s, “due to many different unknown reasons such as cut of cost from the companies, or FD clamp down on foreign film agencies, shortage of raw film.” 184
Another important agency was The Technical Co-Operation Mission (TCM), from the International Cooperation Administration of the USA. They “sponsored an extensive program of functional films on subjects relating to agriculture, animal husbandry, irrigation cattle improvement, fertilizers, health and hygiene, literacy.” 185 TCM was in charge of film exchange, facilitating the screening of American instructional films in India, and produced films on topics related to agriculture and welfare. They produced Dr Pathy’s The Etawah Story and Paul Zils’s School (1956). 186 According to B.D. Garga, in 1955-1956, they organized 11,575 screenings of their films, with a 4.7 million audience. Their films were also screened through the FD theatrical network. 187
2.2 Role of local private companies
Paul Zils recalls the transition years towards the creation of FD: “With the loss of government sponsorship, the documentary seemed to be doomed to die. The credit for keeping the patient alive and even nursing him to manhood must go to those few bands of idealistic short filmmakers, some advertising agencies and a small group of industrial organizations who joined forces and thus kept the documentary movement not only alive but also made progress. It was a tough time.” 188 However, the birth of the FD made many independents worry about their survival. They felt that their efforts to keep documentaries alive in the period between the closure of IFI and the formation of FD might be ignored, and with the FD’s system of “approved film” and compulsory screening, the survival of the independents was under threat. Thus, they decided to rally together and formed a Short Film Guild in February 1949. Among those who attended this meeting were B.D.B. Wadia, Harnam Motwane, Major Ratan Bachcha, W.H. Hese and Paul Zils. The creation of this structure, established to protect the interests of private companies and independent filmmakers, was acknowledged in the 1951 report: “a few producers mainly from Bombay interested in the production of such documentaries and one-or-two-reel shorts of cultural and educational value have recently formed themselves into a ‛Short Film Guild’. Its work is still to make itself evident.” 189 Despite this cautious attitude, the report was aware of “the difficulty and the reluctance of private producers in the current system of the FD with the exhibitor and the approval system.” 190
Various private production companies specialized in documentary film were active from the 1950s onwards. Narwekar lists the AMA Private Limited directed by W.H. Hese specialized in instructional, educational and advertising films. Their films were sponsored by the TCM and other large foreign organizations. Actress Durga Khote founded Fact Films (Deserted Women, 1958); while The National Educational and Information Films of India (NEIF) founded by the Aggarwal Brothers in the late 1940s was involved in the importation and the redistribution of educational films, and in dubbing foreign films into Indian languages. They produced films for the TCM, the FD, and other Ministries. Hunnar Films was formed by Clement T. Baptista and Vishnu M. Vijaykar. They worked for various clients including Burmah Shell, and Shell London and Australia in making training films. Bimal Roy Productions produced the 1956 film Gautama Buddha by Rajbans Khanna and received a Special award at Cannes. 191 Paul Zils first partnered with P.V. Pathy as a cameraman in his company Documentary Unit of India (DUI) formed by the German right after IFI closed down. 192 Fali Bilimoria “became his professional collaborator and partner at DUI and its successor concern, Art Films of Asia (AFA)” 193 , first as a cinematographer then as a director. The company’s employees were all talented and later became renowned film professionals in their own rights. After Zils’ departure from India in 1958, Bilimoria formed the Fali Bilimoria Production.
Another important structure to mention is the Calcutta Film Society which produced its first film, Chidananda Dasgupta’s Portrait of a City, in 1958 despite being subjected to “the same stringent regulations of censorship and payment of entertainment tax as applied to mainstream cinema.” 194 P. K. Nair, the Founder and ex-Director of the National Film Archives of India mentions “Image India, which started to distribute films soon after the war. The company was run by Clement Baptista and Vijaykar, who used to work as cameramen for the British film units during the war. Based in Bombay, they made longer documentaries compared to FD. Baptista and Vijaykar never worked for FD, but some of their collaborators did. They also had a unit in Calcutta, run by Shanti Chowdhury, who was close to Satyajit Ray, and another one in Bangalore. They operated until the rise of television in the mid-1970s.” 195
Finally, it is worth mentioning the Indian Documentary Producer Association (IDPA), a joint effort from the private production sector. Launched on 28th December 1956, the IDPA represents independent producers and negotiate with the FD on their behalf. 196 Two years after its creation, one of its member, film critic Jag Mohan organized the first IDPA documentary festival in Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras, which included 14 documentary and training films selected out of 25 entries, and screened over 5 days. 197 The festival was intended to promote the works of independent filmmakers that did not have the same distribution opportunities as the FD films. 198
2.3 Influence of significant free-lance producers and filmmakers 199
The work of many independent freelance producers and filmmakers was of utmost importance for the development of documentary film in India. Most started to make films before the establishment of the FD and went on collaborating with it, or working with private companies or foreign agencies. Working for the FD was not always easy, especially under some of the Chief Producers, keen on keeping control over the filmmakers. But, working with private companies did not necessarily guarantee much creative freedom either: “Private companies interested in having their films approved for compulsory screenings in cinemas had to obtain Film Advisory Board certificates; this created a pressure towards conformity, and so even productions that were made outside of FD tried to emulate the style of FD. The end goal was to get the productions approved for compulsory exhibition, so that the filmmakers could get paid for the work they did. At the same time, FD hired outsiders to produce a certain number of films every year. From the oral history and FD documents, it is clear that FD’s internal production policies extended to these productions. In those years, it was difficult to be an independent production company and make films markedly different from what FD was producing.” 200 Control seemed to be particularly strict on certain topics and at certain times. Filmmaker Kumar Shahani recalls that “The working experience (as an independent filmmaker) with the Films Division (FD) was horrible. I got banned as an ‘extremist’ after making [Fire in the Belly, 1973, on food shortages]. After that, I had to wait for many years before I could even speak to FD people. And when I made the next film for them, the FD Chief was scared as hell for everything and wanted to completely censor it. So, I did not sign the contract. This film was on computer science. Even this kind of film was censurable, that is what FD is.” 201
Dr P.V. Pathy
One of the major contributors was Dr P.V. Pathy, who was trained in France as a linguist and a filmmaker. 202 He started his career as a newsreel cameraman and moved on to make documentaries shouldering most of the work all by himself, writing, scripting, filming and editing his films. Fiercely independent, he was also one of the few cameramen present during the transfer of power in 1947. His footage of the event was later purchased by the FD. In the very week when India became independent, two films Dr Pathy was associated with were being screened in India: Mahatma Gandhi and India’s struggle for National Shipping. He notoriously made a trilogy of films paying a tribute to Indian rivers, The Golden River, Earth and Water, Where the Jamuna Flows. The Golden River received the President’s award in 1955 and was screened at the Cannes International Film Festival among others. Paul Zils remembered their collaboration as follows: “We worked under the most primitive conditions. We could neither afford half a dozen assistants nor expensive cameras and most certainly not generators and lights. Thanks to Dr. Pathy’s excellent camera work and all round advice and Fali Bilimoria’s combined assistantship in camera direction, the three of us returned to Bombay almost every month with a completed documentary appreciated by the sponsor, public and press alike.” 203
Another important contributor was Paul Zils who worked as a producer, filmmaker and founding member of several independent associations. Though a German from the “celebrated UFA Studios of Germany” who “had worked under Murnau and had made documentaries in Hollywood, Bali and Tokyo,” 204 he adopted India as his home for over a decade where he made several films on India that were among the first to be sent to film festivals abroad, including Edinburgh, Venice, Berne, Berlin, Cannes, Locarno and other festivals. Paul Zils’s entry into India was due to World War Two’s politics, although accounts vary. 205 Garga explains that he was arrested during a shooting in Indonesia, then was made prisoner of war by the British Royal Navy. 206 He persuaded the External Publicity Unit of the Information Films of India (IFI) to recruit him as a staff member. Zils worked with P.V. Pathy, and moved on to form his own film unit called Documentary Unit of India (DUI) with Fali Bilimoria, and from then on, he became associated with India’s most talented and bold documentary filmmakers, including Sukhdev who joined Zils as an assistant editor in the 1950s. With the DUI, Paul Zils worked for the United Nations, as well as private and industrial companies, making advertisement films that allowed him to shoot short documentaries with the company as a sponsor. These films constituted a sort of indirect advertisement and were tackling issues such as nutrition and safety. Besides making films, opening his own production companies and being involved with the Short Film Guild and the INPA, Zils started a bi-monthly magazine called Indian Documentary in 1949 with an editorial board including Dr Mulk Raj Anand, Dr Vikram Sarabhai and B.K. Karanjia among others. The journal stopped publication after five issues and resumed operations in 1955, 207 until it was eventually dissolved in 1959. 208
One of his most important documentaries was India’s Struggle for National Shipping, which was screened nationwide on 15th August, 1947 to celebrate India’s first Independence Day. Some of his other films, which seem to have been lost today, are Zalzala (1952) based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novel and Bombay: The Story of Seven Isles, three films on rural maternity welfare made for the United Nations, films on agriculture, malaria, the textile and steel industries, and education. He also adapted Our India from Minoo Masani’s best-selling novel, but it was a box office failure and soon after he returned to short documentaries. 209 In 1958, he left India for his homeland Germany.
Originally a medical student, Fali Bilimoria was an activist in India’s freedom movement. 210 He later studied cinematography and direction under Dr P. V. Pathy and collaborated with Zils on several films and advertising shorts. When Zils left India, Bilimoria started his own production company. One of the films produced and directed by him for the FD was nominated for an Oscar in 1967 while several of his films (A Village in Travancore, The Vanishing Tribe, The Call and Water, The Weavers, Coir workers and The House that Ananda Built) earned the President Award. The House that Ananda Built (1967) is considered to be a landmark film about a peasant family in a village in Orissa and its relationship with modernity. Garga sees it as a “worthy attempt which needed more space and time. But the constraint of its 20 minute format somewhat defeated its purpose and in the process it became a well- researched, well-written long essay illustrated with portraits of the family and other inhabitants of the village.” 211 The film “depicts various aspects of a peasant’s life in Orissa, including his family, work and religious beliefs, spanning the period from India’s independence until the mid-1960s. Ananda is represented as a man deeply rooted in Indian tradition and as living ‘in a manner that hardly changes with time’. Yet, his children and grandchildren received an education and migrated to the city, and his sons are shown enjoying a middle-class urban lifestyle. So the film provides an ideal representation of traditional ways of life consensually giving way to modernity and social development. The film often relies on medium shots that allow proximity with the protagonists without intruding. However, according to film historian and filmmaker B. D. Garga, “the constraint of its twenty minute format somewhat defeated its purpose and in the process it became a well-researched, well-written, long essay illustrated with portraits of the family and other inhabitants of the village.” 212 Despite interesting daily life details, the conventional Films Division voice-of-God commentary dictates what the characters think and say, and thus patronises both Ananda’s family and the general audience.” 213
S.N.S. Sastry was a lesser-known younger experimental documentary filmmaker who collaborated with the FD on a number of outstanding films. Filmmaker Avijit Mukul Kishore describes him as follows: He “was critical, but he also had a sense of pride and joy in the possibilities of the film medium and national optimism. The best achievements of the documentary film relate to its contribution to writing our national visual history (of course, from the State’s point of view) and to film form.” 214 For writer and filmmaker Paromita Vohra, “Sastry was interested in what documentary cinema, politics, and to be Indian meant and this is what drove me towards his work. […] He is the only one to use the documentary as a space for philosophical thinking. It may not strictly serve political activism, but it is strongly political and all forms are important I think, especially in India, we need various films to match the diversity of the country […]. Sastry died at a young age and was never a star, unlike Sukhdev, who took on the persona of ‘male nationalist filmmaker’. So, there is no information available about him. I only know he came from Karnataka and has a son in Bangalore, probably working for FD too, although nobody knows him directly. I think that funding has to come locally for filmmakers to be able to develop their own language, which was the case for Sastry in FD. I also think documentary filmmaking follows eternal cycles of individual voices followed by homogeneity, and Sastry belonged to that cycle of individual voices.” 215
A collaborator of Paul Zils frequently commissioned by the FD, Sukhdev is often described as the most intrepid and talented documentary filmmaker in India. He “revolutionized the Indian documentary film, in content and technique, bagged innumerable awards, here and abroad, created controversies and established bridges of understanding through his film with people here and elsewhere. If Satyajit Ray has brought renown to the country with his feature films, then Sukhdev did likewise with his documentaries.” 216 According to most accounts, Sukhdev had little formal education, with only two years in college and no formal training in cinema. He learnt on the job working with Paul Zils and Fali Bilimoria for three years in various capacities. His daughter remembers: “He was self-taught and believed in self-made men. He did not complete his education, because he was thrown out of his college in Punjab the day he cut his hair and stopped wearing the turban. He started to work very early to support his family and probably did all kinds of odd jobs until he started to assist (documentary filmmaker) Paul Zils. […] He was known as the ‘Enfant Terrible’, the ‘Rebel with a Cause’ filmmaker, and therefore he wanted to remain independent.” 217 The first of his films to leave a mark was And Miles to Go (1965) which contrasted images of poverty with images of wealthy people. This film was subjected to brutal cuts by the Censor Board but it still went on to win the Special Jury award at the 1965 International Film Festival of India. His use of the zoom lens in the film started a trend that was imitated by others. A film on bonded labour After the Silence in 1977 also won several more awards.
His daughter describes his work method as such: “He never scripted his films. He used a lot of handheld camera, at a time when they were still very heavy, and did most of the camerawork himself. Of course, he was working with a sound recordist and a back-up camera person, especially in those days when equipment was so heavy to carry around. […] He shot a lot and always managed to get enough raw stock (the government imposed raw stock quotas in those days), also because he was often working on several projects at the same time and thus could reinvest the money earned with one into another running project. […] He edited all his films himself, because the structure was in his head and developed as he was filming. The script was finally emerging during the editing of the film. […] I don’t know who described Sukhdev’s films as the ‘first angry documentary’ or called him the ‘rebel with a cause’, but it represented his tendency to fight against the censor board, to fight to show his films in different places, including in press clubs, to make sure that journalists would see his films and then would talk about them in the press. […] His films were quite journalistic too; they were investigative.” 218 The two documentaries that earned him worldwide recognition were India 67 (1967) and Nine Months to Freedom (1971). India 67 had no commentary and was shot by Sukhdev who travelled all over India in a battered car shooting 20,000 feet of film finally edited to 5,000 feet.
Although he is widely praised, some filmmakers disapprove his “uncritical acceptance of modernity as the norm, of the Nehruvian vision, and because of their middle-class gaze. Even the Communist Party, to which Sukhdev was close, was pro-modernist at the time. These films avoid being too political. If they show the contrast between the rich and the poor, they do not explore the power relations between them. The gap between these disparities as political terrain remains unexplored. […] some of Sukhdev’s films such as India 67 would show many places in India, presenting a sort of ‘Placeless India’. This kind of representation could lead to typecasts, stereotypes, a sort of ‘Incredible India’ experience. The nuances only manifest in the representations of modernity versus tradition, but what about other nuances?” 219 His daughter however concludes: “His films came around at a time when people started to be tired of propaganda and then the Emergency kicked in. So, these were critical times in India. People were tired of state control. This is why I wanted to know whether he was a sell-out, if he had finally given in his ideals? But in the end, he believed in what the government wanted to achieve (which is shown in his films), not in the means used to get there. […] Perhaps the State also used him and his success as a filmmaker. […] Eventually, when the government changed after the Emergency, he was identified as a sell-out and did not receive any commissioning from the state anymore, and thus started to make corporate films. This is when the disillusion started. He was making a film on the actress Meena Kumari, which he never finished. Gulzhar, who respected his work, later completed it. They had studied in the same college in Punjab. Sukhdev was always surrounded by lots a talented people, musicians, painters, writers, filmmakers... He was involved in collaborative projects towards the end of his life. He was developing a feature film project and was working on the writing of the script.” 220
Shyam Benegal started off with advertising and then moved to documentaries. A Child of the Streets (1967) showed his skills with the camera and his humanism as he traced the journey of a nine year old in search for parental love and shelter. The subject of his next film, Close to Nature (1968), was the tribal populations of Madhya Pradesh and it provided a glimpse of their life and their various aspects. 221 Later in the 1980s, he made biographical films on Nehru and Satyajit Ray (for television).
Mani Kaul moved to documentaries after making several feature films. His first documentary for FD was on the dying art of puppeteering in Rajasthan titled The Nomad Puppeteers (1974). “This documentary pays tribute to the disappearing art form of string puppeteering in Rajasthan by including several sequences on the astonishing complexity of such performances. The film also addresses the disappearance of a traditional nomadic lifestyle, as struggling puppeteers face socio-economic changes provoked by state modernisation campaigns. It does not follow a story line but provides visual details about the nomadic community and stage performances. The film also juxtaposes interviews with real life situations and switches between the two, creating a more intimate representation of this community. It was made in the 1970s, when the availability of lightweight film equipment enabled close encounters between the filmmaker and people and situations. This intimacy and proximity marks a departure from typical Films Division productions, which usually communicate top-down and remote official messages. The film also challenges the state by criticising its interference with the essence of this folk art form. However, it also conveys the idea that tradition should be fixed rather than evolving according to the context of the times, which constitutes an external and elitist point of view. It nevertheless remains Mani Kaul’s most notable and well-received documentary short.” 222 One year later, in 1975, he made another film for FD, ‘An Indian Woman - An Historical Assessment’, which was commissionned to mark the International Women's Year declared by the United Nations. This film reveals the complex relationship between FD and independent filmmakers, the focus on social purposiveness and the concern for artistic control. 223
3. The Development Of The Indian Documentary Film Sector (1948-1975)
3.1 Position of the documentary film within the larger Indian film industry and official policies
Over the period running from 1948 to 1975, the documentary film certainly held a very singular position in the larger film landscape in India. The few and smaller private production companies involved in non-fiction filmmaking depended on the FD to get their films “approved”, which in turn conditioned their general distribution in the theatrical circuit. Without this official approval, their productions could only be distributed in limited releases. This generated strong anti-FD feelings as early articles from Indian Documentary show: “the exhibitor who is loaded down with official ‘approved’ films cannot therefore take up a ‘sponsored documentary’. A very small number of houses showing foreign films do occasionally have room for a film of this nature, but no concern is prepared to sponsor a film which will have a limited and sporadic screening. It is thus correct to announce the demise of the ‘sponsored documentary’ with a doctor’s certificate declaring it was choke to death at an early age after showing signs of a healthy robust future.” 224 The commercial cinema sector is often described as antagonistic to non-fiction films, especially the exhibitors who frequently complained about taxes and the compulsory screening system, that forced them to rent and screen FD approved short films before long-feature films. 225 As such, the documentary film was both protected from the commercial-oriented film sector and undermined by its very special position. The FD was described as “insulated from competition.” 226
Governmental efforts to nurture a documentary film production useful for the propagation of state-sanctioned information, knowledge and official discourses went beyond the setting up of FD and the compulsory screening system. It was further enhanced by official policies aiming at regulating the film sector, and by other institutions responsible for developing films as healthy entertainment – that is cultural and artistic films.
The Film Advisory Board (FAB) was appointed by the Government of India in 1949, and its mission was to preview all newsreels and documentary and advice on the release of the film. Then, “after a newsreel or documentary has been passed by this Board, they are seen and certified in the usual course by the Board of Film Censors at Bombay.” 227 Over the 1948-1975 period, the Central Board of Film Censors under the MIB was charged to classify films in the “A” (adult) or “U” (unrestricted) categories. 228 The States’ regional boards, initially set up where the “import of foreign films [were] taking place in […] the ports of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras,” 229 had the right to certify films, but the 1952 Cinematograph Act modified that by giving the “State government the power to declare films ‘uncertified’.” 230
In 1960, the FFC was created under the Ministry of Finance, to tackle one of the main problems of the film sector, namely the securing of funding for films that had less appeal than commercial ones, including documentary films. The Chanda Committee report highlights inadequacies in the calculation of the FD budget, 231 and many people at the FD were worried about the lack of funding for documentaries, even though they could rely on sponsorship provided by various Ministries. The 1959 minutes of the Film Finance Committee emphasizes that “the problem in our country is to develop a steady and reliable source of finance for the industry,” with the “cultural and artistic films” being at risks of maintaining a steady flow of finances. It was suggested that a new body should be set up to foster the production of such films made outside of the star system. Its missions would be to encourage the production of “moderate budget” films led by “new talents” by providing funding as well as facilities and modern equipment (including the use of a studio), and assisting in distribution. The Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Parliament) resolution imposed a set of priority to examine film projects submitted to the new body, including the films’ “instructive and entertaining” value, and the merits of the applicants. Concerning financial support, the FFC required the applicant to provide 25% of the budget, with the FFC offering 6% interest loans in installments in accordance with the progress of production. 232 The FFC played a significant role in the development of Parallel and New Indian Cinema, a film movement related to Indian documentary cinema. 233 In 1964, the FFC moved to the MIB, “but remained in theory in close contact with the Finance Ministry,” 234 which generated conflicts, and was perceived as a way of further controlling the film industry. Indeed, FFC was meant to “develop the film in India into an effective instrument for the promotion of national culture, education and healthy entertainment,” 235 a major concern for Indira Gandhi who later enforced a series of measures of “state intervention is various areas of the film industry”. 236 Facing the inability of independent filmmakers to repay loans from the FFC, a check list was suggested in 1976 for granting loans: “1) human interest in the story; 2) Indianness in theme and approach, 3) Characters with whom the audience can identify itself, 4) Dramatic content, 5) Background and capability of the applicant.” 237 Towards the mid-1970s, several regulations were implemented to reinforce the censorship process. These policies included the prior approval of the theme, film script and production; it required the preview of the film and included new rules of film exportation policies. They also called for the “industry participation in the ‘voluntary pre-censorship of scripts.’” 238 This was enacted through a wider reformist agenda to produce a better cinema “capable of incarnating the citizen as its film going subject as the Emergency would wish.” 239
The Film Institute of India established in 1961 for the purpose of enhancing the training of film professionals in the industry at large is another institution that played an important role in providing qualified personnel to the FD and creating a dialogue between the FD and the Parallel cinema movement.
3.2 Development and characteristics of significant Indian documentary films
3.2.1 Newsreels and Information Films
While by the mid-1960s newsreels had almost become obsolete in the West, it survived much longer in India largely because its exhibition was mandatory, but also because of the lack of access to television (programmes were limited until after the Emergency). The newsreels shown in theatres in India were routinely ignored as they were considered boring by the general public. By most accounts, they were stiff, focusing on official events rather than on topics more closely related to the general public, and they adopted a top-down point of view in depicting events. However, in 1966, things changed when N.V.K. Murthy was appointed as Newsreels Producer. Trained in the US journalistic tradition, he would include controversial items in the newsreels despite the government disapproval. Murthy took a more grassroots perspective by letting cameramen take to the streets and interview “ordinary people” for important national events such as elections. Spontaneous interviews became then an important fixture of newsreels, replacing the record of official speeches. This change was made possible by technical progress in sound recording and in wireless synchronizing system. The availability of lightweight 16 mm film equipment enabled filmmakers to get much closer to their subjects and get their point of view recorded.
Parallel to the change in approach of newsreels filmmaking, information documentary films also became more refined in style, deeper and more subjective in their analysis of situations. A case in point is Krishna Kapil and Prem Vaidya’s Report on Drought (1967), a film that had a profound impact on local and foreign audiences, triggering an important Norwegian contribution to a food relief programme. 240 “This documentary records the severe drought that occurred in the impoverished states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in 1966-1967. The film does not present the state as the saviour of the people, but rather depicts local communities’ resilience in fighting for survival. The deep voice of Frank Moraes, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Indian Express, who wrote and spoke the commentary, is ‘heard in rapt attention against the powerful visuals.’ 241 This is reinforced by Film Division composer Vijay Raghav Rao’s soundtrack, specifically when the rhythmical music matches the scenes presenting local communities’ physical efforts so as to emphasise solidarity within Indian society and trigger a strong sense of human dignity. This documentary also bears a self-reflexive dimension on the issue of ‛authenticity’ in documentary film-making. The camera and film crew appear on screen to confront the viewers with a more insightful look at the actual situation. This film does not fully embrace the regular narrative construction of Film Division films on socio-economic development issues, which usually begin with problems, then bring out solutions or more simply an optimistic outcome to the initial situation, as a strategy to shed a positive light on the country’s future prosperity and harmony. Here, the humanist perspective prevails over the usual official and paternalistic line of approach.” 242
As conflict and war loomed on the borders of India with China and Pakistan, Sukhdev recorded the partition of East and West Pakistan in a film that demonstrates a newfound point of view to the reporting of such political events. Sukhdev’s Nine Months to Freedom (1972) is described as a compelling work which places the Bangladesh story in its historical perspective and documents the atrocities faced by East Pakistanis in the freedom struggle. “This full length documentary depicts the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 and traces the history of Bangladesh right from the days of the Partition between India and Pakistan in 1948. It presents the events in graphic details, switching between different information sources, both official and non-official. Although Sukhdev uses a vast array of striking visuals and provides different opinions from various countries, he still presents the birth of Bangladesh from the Indian official point of view. His film directly criticises the witnessed atrocities committed by West Pakistan, which he presents as one of the worst genocides in history, and shows India’s and more specifically Indira Gandhi’s crucial role in supporting the new state of Bangladesh against Pakistan. This documentary was first commissioned by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, but due to the course of events, it later turned into a longer film at Sukhdev’s own expense. It was shown twice on Bangladesh TV and was later donated to the Films Division by Sukhdev’s daughter. Despite its one-sided content, this film broke new ground in documentary filmmaking in India by showing the filmmaker’s personal and long-term involvement in the events filmed, and by introducing fly-off-the-wall images, unscripted sequences, a variety of interviews, as well as extremely disturbing visuals. In doing so, it paved the way for the first Indian activist documentaries made during and right after the Emergency.” 243
3.2.2 Ethnographic/anthropological films
One of FD’s recurrent themes was what can loosely be described as ethnographic films on various lesser known ethnic groups, such as the Indian tribal population of Madhya Pradesh portrayed in Adivasis (1958). The film transmits the official discourse on the need to “civilise’ and bring the tribals into the mainstream” by showing how “with the help of government sponsored cooperatives there is a changeover from the old, orthodox ways to a better life with modern amenities.” 244 An official and distanced point of view on the filmed subjects was prevalent, as well as the notion of the crucial contribution of the new Indian State to the development of a modern population. For Peter Sutoris “on the one hand, the government was, at least in its rhetoric, respectful of the indigenous populations and their lifestyles. But the films were condemning those lifestyles and talking about how they should be reformed much the same way colonial-era films depicted “indigenous” lifestyles in the colonies.” 245 By contrast, the film called The Vanishing Tribe (1961), produced by German filmmaker Paul Zils and directed by Fali Bilimoria on the Todas, a tribe living in the Nilgiris mountains in South India, stands out for its narrative based on the story of an elderly tribal woman and its depiction of the “proud and handsome men with flowing hair and beards and the putkuli-clad women with curls and ringlets.” 246 Yet this film also homogenises the population into an integrated nation and promotes the 'unity in diversity' motto firmly grounded in the Nehruvian socialist vision. 247
One of the overriding missions of the FD being to reveal what Nehru termed “the strong but invisible threads” that held India together, 248 FD crews travelled to various parts of the country to make Rajasthan (1952), Glimpses of Assam (1952), K.L. Khandpur’s Darjeeling (1954), Mushir Ahmed’s Magic of the Mountain (1956) and Ravi Prakash’s Spring comes to Kashmir (1956), among many other similar films. Spring Comes to Kashmir is one of the early and rare more artistic forays by the Films Division. “Bhownagary clearly worked to loosen the constraints on Prakash for this film showing the change from winter to spring in the Kashmir region. As Indians popularly hold a romantic vision of this region, the film plays into and expands on this notion. Prakash opens with a shot from an airplane of clouds across Himalayas, setting the majestic, artistic tone that will follow. With a clear emphasis on the content of the narration, the credits list ‘Words’ rather than ‘Commentary”. India is personified as a poetic narrator: “…The sun is my life! I drink no honey sweeter than this water…” Despite the emphasis on the poetic narration, the words are not invasive and visuals are clearly the main focus. The film features the beauty and composition of the cinematography, with hard cuts between each shot clearly separating each from the other. Prakash uses heavy editing sparingly with only a short montage of trees blooming set to upbeat, emotive traditional sitar, strings and drums and later a conversation between two people with a shot, reverse shot giving the reaction of the subject most commonly seen in fiction films. While the film shows just one region of India, Kashmir, it pushes the underlying theme of national pride by citing that Kashmir is a place that Indians can claim as a natural and beautiful place of their homeland, quite essential in bringing together people from such a great number and disparate areas. 249
Later films on similar topics include Close to Nature by Shyam Benegal (1968). Close to Nature was a documentary film directed by Indian New Wave director Shyam Benegal with the participation of S. Sukhdev. It focuses on Indian tribes facing the challenges of modernisation introduced by the government. This film provides details of beliefs, rituals and ways of life in a tribe living in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. On the one hand, the film bears an anthropological dimension when it depicts little-known aspects of this remote tribe’s customs and lifestyle using mobile handheld camera work (thanks to the introduction of more portable equipment), but it also stigmatises their differences and awkwardness in the eyes of the urban middle-class makers of the film. On the other hand, the film includes the state’s tribal education schemes, health programmes and cooperative stores, which constitute the social fabric and economic structure of an integrated Indian nation, as idealised by the government, but does not present the point of view and concerns of the local communities. The emphasis on the preservation of the tribes’ ‘purity’ and ‘simplicity’ constitutes an external, paternalistic and elitist perspective in the film, which reflects the state’s anxiety concerning India’s possible loss of identity on the path to modernisation, and is therefore erected as an important moral value for the Indian people in general.” 250
Man in Search of Man by Prem Vaidya (1974) is another key ethnographic documentary produced by the FD. “This documentary belongs to the category of the anthropological film and depicts the vanishing tribes in the remote area of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Constitution’s Scheduled Tribes Order of 1959 classified these islanders as a scheduled tribe to improve their educational and socio-economic status, but also to control their ways of life. This documentary was directed by Prem Vaidya, who worked as cinematographer, director and producer with the Films Division for 31 years (1954-1985). The film crew hops from one island to the next, providing selected images of different tribal communities, their customs, activities of daily life and natural surroundings. Partially shot with a hand-held camera to get closer to the filmed subjects, the film also used additional underwater equipment and thus also borrows from nature documentaries. The film highlights the pride in the regional and ethnical diversity of an integrated nation. Yet, it also stigmatises the tribals’ basic and backward lifestyle. Like Close to Nature (Shyam Benegal, 1968), another film on tribes that explains how development schemes have enriched tribal lives, Man in Search of Man also applies a biased understanding of the tribes as a slowly developing, nature-dominated venture for an urban audience eager for exotic entertainment. Specifically, the sequence in which the film crew confronts the tribals with the modern world and watches their reactions reveals the paternalistic perception of the urban middle-class filmmakers.” 251
3.2.3 Scientific and instructional films
Many titles in the FD catalogue, or those from the foreign agencies, can be seen as part of a larger body of “scientific films.” In a review republished in 2008, K.L. Khandpur draws a list of films prone to “create a scientific temperament”:
- Newsreel items pertaining to scientific developments (medicine, agriculture, space research).
- Documentary films on individual scientific institutions and industrial establishments. These were made on the initiative of the Ministry of Education, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Department of Atomic Energy, and other scientific and industrial organizations, and served to publicize the activities of scientific institutions.
- General information films on industries (ex: The Cup that Cheers on the tea industry).
- Films on agriculture. [most are made for students, ex: Banana Cultivation]
- Popular films on scientific subjects.
- Scientific films for specialised audience.
- Science teaching films for the classroom. [limited number of films] 252
For instance, T. A. Abraham’s Research for Better Food (1964), was a “promotional film commissioned by the Central Food Technological Research Institute to publicise its research activities and final food products. Founded in 1950 and still in operation today, it is one of the 40 national research laboratories of India, and was considered a leading and exemplary research centres at the time. The highly positive instructional commentary praises the new conservation and uses of food resources, and the development of nutritious and supplementary foods in India. In a context in which food shortages and dependence on foreign food imports were still acute, this film supports the official argument that science and industrialisation benefit economic development and therefore Indian people’s living conditions. However, the film does not address the disparity in access to food between the poorest farmers and labourers who provide the primary farm products used to make these improved food products and the urban middle class directly benefiting from them. Besides, this documentary film was made in the 1960s, when food was turned into a mass industry without taking its possible long-term negative impact into account. Faced with the primary concern of feeding India’s growing population, this film neglects issues such as excessively processed foods or the overuse of chemicals.” 253
By contrast, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Towards National S.T.D. (1969) is an “independent short documentary introduc[ing] the new technology of the Subscriber Trunk Dialing System launched in India in 1960. It first deals with director Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s own state of Kerala in southern India and then continues with the state’s economic plan of spreading the S.T.D. nation-wide. The story is mainly self-explanatory, with the image track conveying a direct and simple message, but the informational commentary follows whenever images do not suffice. The film promotes the state’s project of technological modernisation of the country, while the topic of inter-regional communication also supports the official motto of ‘unity in diversity’. Occasional comic scenes are meant to convey the information to the general public more efficiently. This documentary, typical of the Films Division style in the 1950s (enactment, clumsy humour, voice-of-God commentary, etc.), also reveals the plight of a young art filmmaker who had limited film opportunities and thus accepted making documentaries for the Films Division, even if he had to sacrifice his own artistic vision to follow the line of approach provided by the Ministry of Telecommunications.” 254
Instructional films were also a lively genre, often mixing documentary and fictional acted scenes, and were aiming at guiding the people in better ways of living – those promoted by the official discourse. Sukhdev’s No Sad Tomorrow (1965), is an independent film commissioned by the FD on the issue of alcoholism in rural areas, featuring the director himself in the role of a drunkard. “The film progresses from a dark and negative situation to its final resolution and happy ending. As an instructional film, it conveys a moral message and is meant to educate audiences, especially rural viewers, about social problems in a straightforward manner. Here, the film conveys the message that drinking should be avoided in order to preserve social harmony within the family and the village community, as well as personal health and economic prosperity. By blurring the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction in imaginative ways, it allows the audience to draw the conclusion that individual moral discernment is the key to overcoming alcoholism. The issue of alcoholism is not examined at national level, but is addressed as a structural social problem in the local village context. However, it could also be perceived as the government’s paternalistic and intrusive control over its people and their lifestyles.” 255
3.2.4 Experimental documentary films
The second appointment of Jean Bhownagary as FD Chief producer in 1965-1967 at the request of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (who was also Minister of Information and Broadcasting at the time), was crucial to revitalize the FD and to open up possibilities for filmmakers to experiment with their medium in a more personal way, as well as to convey their ideas in a more daring artistic form. As Bhownagary recalled later, “New ideas, new approaches had to be found, encouraged and put to work. Fortunately, our country is so rich in talent that soon a whole new ferment was boiling over. We now concentrated not only on achievements but also pin-pointed problems and showed what the people most concerned felt about them and took into account the solutions suggested by them.” 256 Bhownagary was given a free hand and fostered unusual ideas and talents, with independent filmmakers encouraged to experiment with their cameras, topics and filming methods. Files in the National Archives of India include a 19 July 1967 document in which Bhownagary gives his own definition of experimental films: “I would define an experimental film as a film that makes a significant departure in the use of techniques of production or presentation in any of the many aspects of filmmaking, or even a significant modification or restatement of the accepted technical or thematic conventions; or a film which makes a departure in the treatment or choice of subject matter or theme.” 257 Prem Vaidya who worked at the FD for 32 years joining as an assistant cinematographer in 1954, recalls, “I must mention the name of J.S. Bhownagary, whose two short spells of association with FD injected fresh blood (ideas and thoughts) in the sluggish body of FD. […] Whether it was a Sukhdev or S.N.S. Sastry, M.F. Hussain or K.S. Chari, Zul Vellani or Frank Moraes, S.P. Shinde, or J. Ralhan. Be it a film director or cameramen, editor or a recordist, a painter or a narrator, a writer or an animator, Jean Bhownagary knew the stuff they had in them.” 258 Visual artist M.F. Hussain was for instance selected by Bhownagary to make the award-winning Through the Eyes of a Painter (1967).
Artistic freedom was not only successful in transforming the aesthetics of conventional documentary films into a modern and diversified form. It often allowed for a more critical approach to the film’s topic too. Films such as Face to Face (1967), I am Twenty (1968), Report on Drought (1967), India 67 and Explorer (1968), all contain elements that can be considered to be irreverent towards the establishment, 259 besides offering the audience an entirely new visual experience. Filmmakers like Sukhdev, Pati, S.N.S. Sastry, K.S. Chari, Fali Bilimoria, Clement Baptista, Santi Chowdhury and Homi Sethna among others, were the most successful in striking a balance between art, critical social observation, while serving their official role of representing the State. For example, Face to Face (Abraham and Chari), together with I Am 20 (S.N.S. Sastry) and India 67 (S. Sukhdev) were all commissioned by Films Division and released in 1967. These three films served the purpose of nation building and raised ‘healthy skepticism’ against the government. Face to Face and I Am 20 share strong similarities, for they both rely on the same narrative device (interviews) to elicit opinions from cross-sections of the Indian society, and acknowledge and connect individual participants at grass-roots level. Besides, they both eventually convey hope in development and progress.
As Sukhdev’s most important and internationally-acclaimed film, India 67 “depicts the complex negotiation between tradition and modernity in contemporary Indiaandprovides a vivid portrait of the country. The film can also be defined as experimental in form, as it creates an unusual narration based on a collage of different visual messages without storyline, dialogue or commentary. It opens up the possibility of making documentaries based exclusively on visual connections and thus breaks the conventions dictated by Films Division. However, the preeminence of visuals leads to a loose structure that can also disorientate the audience. Moreover, the overt self-involvement of the director in the film raises the issue of objectivity and truthfulness in documentary filmmaking. Although I Am 20 and India 67 are more innovative and creative in terms of form, the three films avoid direct propagandist messages and open a new space of reflection for viewers. However, they cannot be isolated from the official context from which they emerged, for they all attempted to ‘gain credibility for the official mass media and to prepare the citizen to give the government of the day a sporting chance.’” 260
Experimental films could be produced on a vast array of topics. Claxplosion (1968), together with Wives and Wives (1962)and Six Five Four Three Two (1968)belong toPramod Pati’s experimental short films supporting the State’s family planning campaigns and uncritically serve this important social-educational purpose. A special field unit was even set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Delhi to produce featurettes on critical social issues, including family planning. Yet, this two-minute film remains innovative and experimental in terms of visual and narrative styles, with Pati using the stop-motion or pixilation technique, which slows down the pace of conventional film screening (24 images per second). This reflects Pati’s early training in animation under Czech master Jiri Trinka in the late 1950s. 261 The use of pixilation in this non-animated documentary short extends the limits of the documentary film form as a straight-forward replica of factual events.” 262
In this Indian context where the FD bear the role of instructing the masses, experimental film still needed to follow some informative or educative purposes. Pramod Pati saw two main areas for experimentation in this rather strict aesthetic and discursive framework laid out by the FD: the spoken word and bold visuals often enhanced by a mixture of animation and live images. 263 For the first category, he refers to V. Shantaram’s Symphony of Life (1954), which contains no spoken word, and to Face to Face (1967), built on a new and playful use of interview techniques, and for the second one, he mentions Clement Baptista’s Apathy (1968). Apathy “combines live images with an animated character designed by well-known cartoonist Laxman. 264 It mixes fiction and non-fiction to depict ill-mannered daily behaviours in Indian urban society through the eyes of this animated character, an ‘invisible’ observer of city life in Bombay. This documentary uses animation, freeze images, stop motion and additional music and sound effects to trigger laughter, creatively producing a critical distance for the audience to engage more actively with those ill-mannered behaviours. Yet this documentary still follows the line of approach imposed by FD and conveys simple and direct instructional information on necessary lifestyle changes and good citizenship, which the government tried to inspire among Indian people so as to facilitate its project of social development in modern India.” 265
Although experimenting with interview techniques might remind us of techniques pertaining to the direct cinema or cinéma vérité movements, such as in the films Face to Face and I am Twenty in which “Sastry gave a voice to youngsters expressing how they perceive themselves and the young nation they symbolise” 266 , Garga sees it differently: “Unfortunately, in India it [cinéma vérité] had no impact. Much semantic confusion prevails, and more often than not we have mistaken the interview film with Cinéma Vérité. […] Films like Face to face, Report on Drought, […] I Am Twenty, and Actual Experience excellent films all, are most certainly not Cinéma Vérité films. Cinéma Vérité admits no “stage” scenes, much less arranged interviews.” 267 Paromita Vohra discusses experimental cinema and B.D. Garga’s point of view in her own assessment of Sastry’s films: “To me, Sastry’s films were politically more complex and stylistically more interesting than others. Pramod Pati made films along the line of what was already established as ‘experimental cinema’, Sukhdev’s work drew from agit-prop and following in certain ways the Griersonian tradition. Sastry developed his own style of communicating with people living in his time. There is a notion of history of the political documentary and it is often considered that Anand Patwardhan set a template for political documentary filmmaking in India, which was then copied and mimicked by others. It had to be against the state, so if official documentaries used a Voice-of-God commentary, then political documentarists would not use it for instance. Sastry does not fit this oppositional template, yet I consider his films political too. His film I Am 20 does not offer a top-down relation from the filmmaker to his subject, a convention followed by most FD films. […] I am also wondering if he saw Chronicle of a Summer, made in 1961, before making I Am 20. Both films ask very long questions and show a conversational connection between the filmmaker and his interviewees. It is perhaps because technology (and more specifically portable cameras) made such films possible that filmmakers started to make such kinds of films in different parts of the world. […] I Am 20 is also among the first Indian documentaries to be made of interviews. The film does not ally with the nation state, through its formal gestures. Contrary to Sukhdev, Sastry never celebrated the nation in his films, his subversive filmmaking was able to sow the seed of doubt. Yet, they share at least one similarity: both films give importance to pleasure. […] Sastry’s film is cerebral, playful, generous, doubtful, whereas Sukhdev performs the anguished revolutionary soul. Because Sastry does not play that game, there isn’t an easy space for him in the film sphere. Sukhdev’s film is hybrid, and still refers to westernized linear and unitary forms, whereas Sastry’s one is heterogeneous, which is essentially an Indian thing. It shows that everything coexists at the same time, searches for a form that will contain unresolved multiplicities. In his interviews, he is not looking for the point of view of experts in a talking head style. People are not typecast and stereotyped, yet their lives are implied through small details (e.g. Amir Khan’s film). His film is both reliable and unreliable, the spectators trust it or not in their own terms. This is due to his sensibility rather than ideology. He saw arts, and film more specifically, as a way to understand the world rather than reflecting it.” 268
Although this trend of films seemed to have thrived for a while under the direction of Bhownagary, Pramod Pati reminds us that many experimental films projects of independent filmmakers remained unfinished because of a lack of funding. 269 Also, from the debates between the pro-experimental and the pro-educational factions, we can imagine that not all these films were perceived as necessary and worth financing. The FD archive file related to the experimental film My Dreams based on a poem by Ali Sardar Jafri and directed by feminist Urdu writer Ismat Chugtai highlights the concern of Controller-cum-Chief Producer K.L. Khandpur on its financing as early as Sept 22, 1973. According to this letter, “Both Shri Jafri and Smt Chugtai are quite keen that the film should be produced as quickly as possible but […] we are short of funds. Besides, our units are busy with other commitments.” The film was finally included in the production programme for 1974-1975, and approved by the FAB on 19 March 1976 for a release in “North Indian and other Hindi circuits and classification “Educational”.” 270 Pati’s account of the reception of his film Explorer (1968) also indicates that experimental films might have disconcerted the audience: “When released theatrically in 1969, the film shocked the average cinemagoer and in some cases drove a few out. Its subliminal imagery was attributed to failure of projection equipment and the FD even received a bill for furniture destroyed by the audience while viewing the film. The Division’s attitude to expose the Indian audience to such films with a view to develop a better sense of film appreciation was in itself a progressive policy and the film was not withdrawn from circulation.” 271
3.3 Comparison with growing Indian art cinema: Similarities and differences
While the commercial film sector was engaged in making popular entertainment, a consistent body of more demanding art films developed steadily in parallel to that industry. It originated around the 1950s, with filmmakers such a Satyajit Ray who were making films in dialogue with “realist” or “neorealist” film movements abroad, and this movement is alternatively referred to as Parallel cinema (for the earliest productions) or New cinema movement (from the 1960s onwards). Exchanges with foreign filmmakers were reinforced in the 1950s, when India began to attract film talents from other countries. This was noted by various film historians as a very important source of inspiration for fiction filmmakers but also for fostering new ways of making documentary films. B. D. Garga observes that the visit of Russian filmmaker Roman Karmen 272 and then the first International Film Festival held in New Delhi in 1952 were crucial in exposing Indian audiences to Russian, Italian and Japanese films, and in giving birth to the beginnings of an art film culture with an Indian sensibility. The successive visits of Robert Flaherty, Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang, Arne Sucksdorff, Roberto Rossellini and Louis Malle enabled local filmmakers to have a taste of the work methods used by foreign filmmakers. Italian filmmaker Rossellini shot a documentary film in India, Matri Bhumi (1959), and has perhaps brought with him the neorealist movement sensibility – authentic settings, ordinary people, everyday social problems and unobtrusive camera and editing techniques. French filmmaker Louis Malle too made a series of short documentary films called Phantom India in 1968. 273 His films focused largely on marginalized people living on the fringes of Indian society like the Jewish community of Cochin facing extinction, or a community of Catholic Indians. However, his films did not win approval from the Indian government which banned it from being screened in the country because of its parly negative representation of India, even though BBC broadcast its shorter version in 1974.
Bengali filmmakers such as Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray were among the first to make art films closer to Indian realities, and through their work and/or teachings at the Film Institute of India they fostered a younger generation of filmmakers such as Mrinal Sen, Homi Sethna, Mani Kaul, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and so on. The Film Institute “had a mandate to improve filmmaking discipline and aesthetics by training filmmakers, young minds, and by feeding the film industry with trained hands,” 274 and is widely considered as the birthplace of the New cinema movement. Independent film scholar Amrit Gangar points at its political origins: “fundamentally, the new film movement in India was unlike the French New Wave movement. Here in India, it was one individual, and that was Indira Gandhi, who actually thought of instituting the FFC, which eventually started the Indian New Wave (which was again a label created by the media). Indira Gandhi was then the Minister of Information & Broadcasting and within her capacity she thought of funding the young alumni of the FTII through the FFC. Such state funding was an enlightened decision, I think.” 275
Interestingly, filmmakers from the New Cinema Movement also made documentaries, and archival research shows that some documentaries were conceived as part of the same broader trend of art films: “Apart from feature films, NCM is strongly committed to promoting the growth of the Short and Documentary films in India, for it believes that in order to improve the general standard of Indian feature films, it is necessary to create conditions which shall help people with creative ideas, make short films of their own choice. NCM, therefore, proposes not only to produce short films but also in its distribution/exhibition scheme to bracket every feature film with a short film of 10 to 20 mins duration.” 276 They indeed shared a number of ideas and difficulties, notably in terms of production and distribution means, and in the same document, they requested the setting up of alternative channels of exhibition and distribution.
According to Ashish Rajadhyaksha, “some films [from the New Cinema Movement] suffered political persecution, but surprisingly few considering the political position of their authors [Sen, Dasgupta and Benegal]. So instead of having a political dialogue on film in India, the film circles had a discussion on realism as the debates in Europe.” 277 To summùarize, the debate opposed personalities such as Ritwik Ghatak and Kumar Shahani against Satyajit Ray “who mocks Resnais’ Marienbad and experimentations and improvisation seen as the director’s lack of thoughts. An economic argument would be that in environments lacking resource, it is a waste of money.” 278 Transposing the debates of the documentary film circle on the opportunity and importance of making experimental film opposed to educational documentary, Ray maintained that Indian artists had “a financial and cultural responsibility”, and that in environments lacking financial resources, the filmmaker had to be responsible by preparing a script in advance, balancing art and commerce and taking the public into account. Ray supported the realist tradition and a “psychological-realist textual reading of the cinema,” 279 while Shahani claimed that “the conventions of objectivity and realism – historically associated with nationally endorsed structures of authentication and inherently problematic for that reason – were discredited beyond use by the Emergency’s perversion of this apparatus, as well as the dissolution of the cinema into a form of ‘mass media.” 280
3.4 Relations with emerging television: Between cooperation and competition
Bodas recalls that “Television was first introduced in 1959 in Delhi, for two hours per day. Then, it is only in 1972 that television first came to Bombay, again for two hours every day. FD distribution wing had an agreement with Doordarshan (DD) to provide films. DD asked for particular topics, but seldom commissioned films. FD films were broadcasted on a regular basis, including animation. I remember watching all sorts of films, including Sukhdev’s 9 Months to Freedom, perhaps in 1974 or 1975. But DD had its own production unit for news and therefore did not rely on FD for such kind of programmes.” 281 It is only towards the end of the 1970s that television started to play an important role in India as its beginnings are often described as “modest.” 282 However slow the start of television was, the development of this newer mass media in parallel with FD was already a concern for the government in the 1960s. In Four Times Five, FD’s 20th anniversary souvenir published in 1969, several articles refer to television and its impact on the field of documentary film. James Beveridge himself predicted that “it looks as if television alone will ever succeed in providing a direct, effective channel for the great majority of villages. Yet, the same grasp of village realities will be required for television, as is now required for film.” 283 To him, as well as to other contributors to this volume, the progress made in the documentary film area was groundwork for the development of TV documentaries and programmes. As early as 1963, television was already included as an “important scheme” of the Fourth Five Year Plan, which sought to provide television services in Madras, Calcutta, Ahmedabad after Delhi and Bombay. 284 In 1972, official documents already acknowledge the impact of television on the film industry, as it had “already reached Delhi, Bombay and Srinagar and will soon spread to Amritsar, Lucknow, Calutta and Madras.” 285 However, it was seen as “not likely to adversely affect the commercial cinemas in the foreseeable future,” 286 and the report’s author considered that “the power of TV to change people’s outlook for the better [was] often over-estimated.” 287
However, for the government, television represented an even more effective way of disseminating news and conducting visual education, and because its development coincided with a growing politicization of the media in India in the years leading up to the Emergency, it was strongly controlled by the State. 288 Documents in the National Archives of India help understanding how the new medium was considered: “TV is a sophisticated medium. Its audio and visual appeal can be used to bring out general awareness among the masses and to develop human personality and national character. In the educational field, it can well be used for school.” 289 The educational role of television could be useful on topics such as “democratic processes, institutional life, social responsibilities and responsible citizenship.” 290 It could also “give [viewers] a feel of oneness” by showing simultaneous ways of life all around the country. In 1966, the Chanda Committee recommendations for TV programmes already included a “daily school service for middle and high schools”, “in-service programmes for teachers and village workers” adapted to each State’s needs, a “daily programme for agricultural workers”, and “daily social education service” (literacy programmes, special broadcasts for women, information and entertainment for semi-educated and illiterate adults, and ‘programmes for children’).” 291
Initially, television collaborated with the FD by broadcasting “approved” short and long documentaries that were automatically exempted from certification, unlike foreign TV films and programmes. 292 However, without comprehensive figures, the impact of television on the documentary film sector over the 1948-1975 period reamins difficult to assess.
Most of post-independence Indian documentary film history took place within the State institution called the Films Division, or in close relation to it. With approximately 8,000 films today, the FD film archives in Mumbai (ex-Bombay) include “not only documentaries, but also weekly newsreels, animation films, publicity films and other shorts.” 293 Initially modeled after the colonial-era IFI, the FD was nonetheless quick to develop characteristics unique to the young Indian nation. In the absence of television, documentary film was considered the best tool for informing the population and propagating Nehru’s policies and economic vision, as well as each successive Five Year Plan. Therefore, many of the State “approved films” in circulation through the FD distribution channels were relevant to the purposes of state building, civic and basic education. The FD was organized into three sections: a Production Wing, a Distribution Wing, and an Administration Wing. Annexes were dispatched in major cities around India, with Bombay as the Headquarters. The FD was responsible for the production of newsreels and other shorts documentaries and educational cartoon films distributed through a compulsory exhibition scheme to commercial cinema theatres. These “shorts” were screened before full length feature films.
However, the FD’s in-house directors were not the only ones responsible for documentary filmmaking over the period under scrutiny. The FD also collaborated on a regular basis with freelance directors or “outside producers.” Some of the freelance directors, such as Sukhdev who collaborated with FD or worked with other structures, rose to fame for the boldness of their style and for their unique take on current events. They were supported by the open-mindedness and creativity of FD producers such as Jean Bhownagary, who fostered a unique wave of experimental documentaries during his two short tenures in the 1950s and 1960s. They were also encouraged by foreign agencies such as the Burmah Shell Film Unit headed by James Beveridge, and some also created their own private companies where they felt freer to collaborate with the FD or engage in other works (Dr. P.V.Pathy, Paul Zils, Fali Bilimoria).
With growing restrictions in the years leading to the Emergency, documentary filmmaking took another turn towards the end of the period. On the one hand, the rise of the New Cinema Movement and the development of in documentary film forms, fostered by training institutions such as the Film Institute of India and supported by the Film Financing Corporation encouraged the development of art films. On the other hand, the reinforcement of censorship impeded the career of numerous talented filmmakers, who had to abandon documentary film projects in favour of less politically charged works, or for State propaganda films. It is therefore not surprising that at the turn of the mid-1975 documentary film took an activist turn, with new filmmakers such as Anand Patwardhan. His work method was new in India as he did not completely depend on the State for funding and means of circulation: “I first saw myself as an activist with an urge to document certain events […] It is only by the third film (A Time to Rise), that I started to consider myself as primarily a filmmaker, although the subject matter of my films have always been related to activism.” 294 No longer necessarily linked to official institutions, and making films openly critical of the State, the identity of the documentary filmmaker also dramatically shifted from that point of time.
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- Mohan, J., ‘A Village in West Bengal’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1956, pp. 27-30.
- Mohan, J., Documentary Films and Indian Awakening, New Delhi, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1990.
- Mohan, J., ‘Film Shows in Schools’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, p. 25.
- Mohan, J., Four Times Five, Bombay, Films Division, 1969.
- Mohan, J., ‘Introducing Three Indian Film Societies’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1956, p. 45.
- Mohan, J., ‘Newsreel’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, pp. 5-7.
- Mohan, J., ‘On Dancing and Documentaries’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 1, No. 5, 1949, p. 7.
- Mohan, J., ‘Panorama of the Private Sector of Indian Short Film Industry’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, Bombay, MARG Publications, pp. 9-13.
- Mohan, J., ‘Remembering Sukhdev’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 7-12.
- Mohan, J., ‘The Indian Cinematograph Bill 1956/57’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, pp. 8-9.
- Mohan, J., ‘The Small-Scale Industries of India: The Sewing Machine’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, pp. 15-18.
- Mohan, J., Dr. P.V. Pathy: Documentary Filmmaker (1906-1961), Pune, NFAI, 1972.
- Mohan, J., S. Sukhdev, Filmmaker, A Documentary Montage, Pune, NFAI, 1984.
- Mohan, J., Two Decades of the Films Division, Bombay, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1969.
- Mohan, R., ‘The Also-Rans of Indian Cinema - Ram Mohan on the Inferior Status of Documentary Films Today’, in Cinema in India, Vol.3, No.3, July-September 1989, pp. 38-41.
- Mukherjee, R., ‘Contesting the Discourse of Nuclear Nationalism: Seeing Connections and Identifications in Anand Patwardhan’s “Jung aur Aman”’, Conference Paper, National Communication Association, 2008.
- Mukherjee, R., ‘Why in the Name of Development? Analyzing Alternative Indian (Bengali) Documentaries against Land Acquisition and their Projection onto Cyber-Space’, Conference Paper, National Communication Association, 2009.
- Mulay, V., ‘The Sukhdev That I Knew’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 61-63.
- Mulugundam, S., Narratives of Development: a Critical Analysis of Alternative Documentaries in India, PhD dissertation, Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad, April 2011, (unpublished) retrieved from http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/1872, accessed on 22/02/2016.
- Mulugundam, S., ‘Representation in the ‘Alternative’ Documentary’, in MICA Communications Review, 2004, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 43-54.
- Murthy, N. V. K., Life in the Time of Turbulence, Mumbai, Cinemaink, 2010.
- Murthy, N. V. K., ‘Redefining Visual News’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, Bombay, Films Division, January 2010, pp. 25-30.
- Murthy, N. V. K., ‘Sukh As I Knew Him’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp.57-58.
- Nandy, A., The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1983.
- Narayan, B., ‘Deserted Women’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, p. 28.
- Narayan, B., ‘Killing the Killer’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, p. 29.
- Narayan, B., ‘Little Monsters’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, p. 29.
- Narayan, B., ‘Naya Paise’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1957, p. 29.
- Narwekar, S., (ed.), ‘Redefining the Indian Documentary, Is it Time to Change?’, in Documentary Today,Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, pp. 25-33.
- Narwekar, S., ‘55th National Film Awards for 2007’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, pp. 25-27.
- Narwekar, S., ‘A Tribute to the King of Romance’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 52.
- Narwekar, S., ‘AFSPA 1958 Bags Top Honour at 56th National Film Awards’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 3, Bombay, Films Division, April 2010, pp. 39-41.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Against All Odds’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 35.
- Narwekar, S., ‘An Undying Friendship’, in Documentary Today, vol. 3, no. 3, Bombay, Films Division, April, 2010, pp. 27-29.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Berlin Exhibition Showcases Indian Art Films’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, p. 60.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Do Dino Ka Mela’ Drum’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, pp. 52-53.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Docu on Tiger Relocation’, in Documentary Today, vol. 2, no. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July, 2009, p. 34.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Documentary on Rare Kathi Horses’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 37.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Doordarshan Turns 50’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 45.
- Narwekar, S., ‘FD’s “Voice” is Stilled’, in Documentary Today,Vol. 4, No. 3, Bombay, Films Division, April 2011, p. 61.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Film on General Elections’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 33.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Flames of the Snow’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, p. 54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Flying on One Engine’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, pp. 53-54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Gandhi’s Children’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘I Want My Father Back’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘IFFI 2009, Panorama 2009: A Mirror of the Best’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, Bombay, Films Division, January 2010, pp. 39-41.
- Narwekar, S., ‘IFFLA Grant for Emerging Filmmakers’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 44.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Indian Envoy Praises Sikh Community at Film Festival’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 46.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Krishnaswami Feted’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 28.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Leaving Home: The Life and Music of Indian Ocean, First Documentary to be Theatrically Released’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 3, Bombay, Films Division, April 2010, pp. 48-49.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Liv Ullman Prize for Indian Film’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, Bombay, Films Division, January 2010, p. 55.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Maoist Docu wins Censor Battle’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, p. 58.
- Narwekar, S., ‘MIFF 2010, Anand Ramayya: Reconciling Contradiction’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, Bombay, Films Division, January 2010, pp. 63-64.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Mumbai’s Gay Festival’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 34.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Nalin’s Film Stars Harman Baweja’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 37.
- Narwekar, S., ‘New Films’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, pp. 57-60.
- Narwekar, S., ‘New Team Takes Charge at I&B’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 34.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Oberhausen to Profile Amit Dutta’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 3, Bombay, Films Division, April 2010, p. 47.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Pottu’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 58.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Rajesh Jala bags IFFLA Award’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, p. 33.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Ray Award for Indian’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 34.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Satyajit Ray Negatives’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, p. 53.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Shabadnirantar/ Word Within the Word’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 58.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Short Film Association’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 34.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Best of India’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, Bombay, Films Division, January 2010, pp. 14-17.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Bicycle is Not Far’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 58.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Data Theft Scandal’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 57.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Doon School Quintet, Capturing the Adolescent Struggle’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 52.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Frontier Gandhi’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, pp. 56-57.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Kabir Project, Exploring the Mystic Weaver Poet’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 1, Bombay, Films Division, October 2009, pp. 53-54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Slow Poisoning of India’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 55.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, p. 52.
- Narwekar, S., ‘The Truth About Tigers’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, p. 54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Understanding Trafficking’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, pp. 55-56.
- Narwekar, S., ‘We: Arundhati Roy’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, p. 54.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Yi As Akh Padshah Bai’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, pp. 57-58.
- Narwekar, S., ‘Rewind to 1948’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 4-15.
- Narwekar, S., Directory of Indian Documentary, Mumbai, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association, 1998.
- Narwekar, S., Documenting India: A History of the Indian Documentary Film, New Delhi, Flicks Books, 1996.
- Narwekar, S., Films Division and the Indian Documentary, Delhi, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1992, pp. 22-55, 78-88.
- Narwekar, S., Flashback: A Panorama of Indian Documentaries 1981-2001, Mumbai, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association, 2001.
- Narula, M., ‘To Direct a Gaze’, in Indian Cinema, New Delhi, The Directorate of Film Festivals, 1992 (pages unknown).
- ORG-MARG Committee, Report for a Study on Films Division, Bombay, 1997.
- Pathy, P. V., ‘A propos of the Documentary Film in India’, in Indian Talkie 1931-1956: Silver Jubilee Souvenir, Bombay, Film Federation of India, 1956 (pages unknown).
- Pathy, P. V., ‘Research and Script Writing on Short Films’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, pp. 51-53.
- Pati, P., ‘In Search of Newer Forms’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 31-33.
- Patil, S. K., Report of the Film Enquiry Committee, New Delhi, Film Enquiry Committee, 1951.
- Patnaik, S., ‘Years of Living Dangerously’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 50-53.
- Patwardhan, A., ‘Waves of Revolution: The Making of a Documentary’, in Deep Focus, Vol. 1, No.4, 1989 (pages unknown).
- Pillay, P. R. S., ‘All This and More-For the sake of an Urge’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, pp. 55-56.
- Pillay, P. R. S., ‘The Role of Factual Films in the Planned Development of India’, in Documentary in National Department, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, 1967, pp. 140-148.
- Pronay, N., ‘John Grierson and the Documentary – 60 Years On’, in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1989, pp. 227–246.
- Rahman, S., ‘Audio-Visual Education in the Two Five-Year Plans’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1956, pp. 21-22.
- Rajadhyaksha, A., ‘The documentary’, in Hill, J., and Gibson, P. C. (eds.), The Oxford Guide to Film Studies, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998.
- Rajadhyaksha, A., Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to the Emergency, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2009.
- Ram, A., ‘The Need for Evaluation Reports On Films’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1956, p. 18.
- Rao, B., ‘Is there an Indian Documentary?’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, p. 19.
- Ray, R. M. (ed.), Sangeet Natak Akadami Film Seminar Report 1955, New Delhi, Sangeet Natak Akadami, 1956, pp. 18-23, 48-55.
- Chanda, A. K., Report on Documentary Films and Newsreels, Committee on Broadcasting & Information Media, New Delhi, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, 1966.
- Richie, D., ‘The Problems of The Official Film’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, p. 62.
- Roy, S., Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism, Durham, Duke University Press, 2007.
- Roy, S., ‘Moving Pictures: The Films Division of India and the Visual Practices of the Nation-State’, in Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Independence, Durham: Duke University Press, 2007, pp. 32-65.
- Rughani, P., ‘The Story of the Indian Documentary (1&2)’, in India Magazine, Vol. 16, Nos. 5&6, 1996 (pages unknown).
- Sargent, P., ‘Indian News Parade: the First Indian Newreel’, in Imperial War Museum Review, No. 12, 1999, pp. 29-35.
- Sethna, H., ‘The Problem Facing the Independent Documentary Producer in India Today’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, pp. 16-18.
- Shamim, M., ‘Death of a Major Talent’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 55-56.
- Sharma, P., ‘Genius, Clown, Friend Extraordinary’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 46-49.
- Sharma, S., ‘Aspects of Research for Documentaries’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1956, pp. 36-38.
- Silverstein, M., ‘Anandana Kapur, “Most Filmmaking is All About Jugaad”’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 4, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2010, pp. 50-51.
- Singh, B. P., India’s Culture: The State, the Arts, and Beyond, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1998.
- Sinha, K., ‘Fast-forward to the Future’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 16-20.
- Sinha, K., ‘Managing Reality’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, Bombay, Films Division, January 2010, pp. 20-23.
- Sinha, K., ‘Recreating a Legend’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 2, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, July 2009, pp. 4-7.
- Souza, F. N., ‘Adieu, Sukhdev’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, p. 65.
- Subramanyam, K., ‘Random Thoughts on Documentary Film Production’, in Documentary in National Department, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, 1967, pp. 153-158.
- Suchsland, R., ‘Documenting a People’s Movement’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 3, No. 3, Bombay, Films Division, April 2010, pp. 34-35.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘Brief History of Sukhdev as Producer/Director’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, p. 14.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘Film-makers Purpose: “Personal Cinema” Or “Social Relevance”’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 42-45.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘Filmography’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, p. 13.
- Sukhdev, S,. ‘List of Award Winning Films Produced and/ or Directed by Sukhdev’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 15-16.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘Other Films by Sukhdev in F. D. Collection’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, p. 19.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘Poetic Musings Of’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 37-41.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘Suhkdev’s Films in the Films Division Collection’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 17-18.
- Sukhdev, S., ‘The Documentary in Theory and Practice’, in The Sukhdev Retrospective, Bombay, BIFFDASF, 1990, pp. 32-36.
- Surti, A., ‘The Making of Abid’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 34-36.
- Sutoris, Peter, Visions of Development: Films Division of India and the Imagination of Progress, 1948-75, London, Hurst, 2016 (forthcoming).
- Thapa, N. S., ‘Life Behind the Camera’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 21-24.
- Thapa, N. S., ‘Shooting a War’, in The Boy From Lambata: Memoirs of a Combat Cameraman and Documentary-Maker, Nainital, Pahar Pothi, 2004, pp. 41-110.
- Vaidya, P., Memorable Assignments on Moving Images, Pune, National Film Archives of India, Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 2009.
- Vaidya, P., ‘The Rush Print Brought the Aid’, in Documentary Today, Vol. 1, No. 4, Bombay, Films Division, May 2008, pp. 37-42.
- Vasudevan, R., ‘Dislocations: The Cinematic Imagining of a New Society in 1950s India’, NMML, Research-in-Progress Papers, second series, n°89.
- Vasudevan, R., ‘Official and Amateur: Exploring Information Film in India’, in Grieveson, L. and MacCabe, C. (eds.), Film and the End of Empire, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, pp. 73-94.
- Vishnudas, S., ‘Music in Short Films’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, p. 54.
- Vohra, P. ‘Dotting the I: The Politics of Self-less-ness in Indian Documentary Practice’, in South Asian Popular Culture, April 2011, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 43-53.
- Waugh, T., ‘Words of Command: Cultural and Political Inflections of Direct Cinema in Indian Documentary’, in The Right to Play Oneself, Looking Back on Documentary Film, Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2011, pp. 239-266.
- Wood, E., ‘Notes on Audience-Reaction in Villages’, in Indian Documentary, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1956, pp. 19-20.
- Wood, E., ‘Prototyping Movies’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, pp. 49-51.
- Woods, P., ‘Chapattis by Parachute: The Use of Newsreels in British Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, in Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2000, pp. 89-110.
- Woods, P., ‘From Shaw to Shantaram: The Film Advisory Board and the Making of British Propaganda Films in India 1940-1943’, in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 21, No. 3, August 2001, pp. 298-308.
- Woods, P., ‘The British Use of Film Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, in Indian Horizons, January-March 2001, pp. 11-24.
- Zils, P., ‘The Documentary Film in India and Europe’, in MARG: Pathway, XIII, No. 3, June 1960, pp. 42-43.
Selected references on Indian Cinema and Television
- Agrawal, B. C., and Joshi, S. R., Satellite Indian Television Experiment: Social Evaluation, Impact on Adults, Bangalore, Indian Space Research Organization, 1977.
- Agrawal, B. C. (ed.), Anthropological Methods for Communication Research: Experiences and Encounters during SITE, New Delhi, Concept Publishing Company, 1985.
- Agrawal, B. and Sinha, A. (eds.), SITE to INSAT: Challenges of Production and Research for Women and Children, New Delhi, Concept Publishing Company, 1986.
- Bordwell, D., On the History of Film Style, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1997.
- Bordwell, D., Classical Hollywood Cinema, London, Routledge, 1998.
- Bose, D., Brand Bollywood: A New Global Entertainment Order, New Delhi, SAGE Publications, 2006.
- Chakravarty, S. S., National Identity in Indian Popular Cinema (1947-1987), Austin, University of Texas Press, 1993.
- Coll., ‘Unsettling Cinema, A Symposium on the Place of Cinema in India’ , in Seminar, n°525, May 2003.
- Deprez, C., ‘La télévision indienne, un modèle d’appropriation culturelle ’, Bruxelles, INA – De Boeck, 2006.
- Deprez, C., Bollywood, Cinéma et Mondialisation, Lille, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2010.
- Desai, J., Beyond Bollywood: The Cultural Politics of South Asian Diasporic Film, London, Routledge, 2004.
- Dissanayake, W., Colonialism and Nationalism in Asian Cinema, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1994.
- Dwyer, R. and Pinto, J. (eds.), Beyond the Boundaries of Bollywood: The Many Forms of Hindi Cinema, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Ganti, T., Producing Bollywood: Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry, Durham, Duke University Press, 2012.
- Garga, B. D., So Many Cinemas: The Motion Picture in India, New Delhi, Eminence Designs Pvt. Ltd., 1996.
- Gokulsing, K. M. and Dissanayake, W. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Indian Cinemas, London, Routledge, 2013.
- Gokulsing, M. K. and Dissanayake, W., Indian Popular Cinema: A Narrative of Cultural Change, Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books, 1998.
- Grimaud, E., Bollywood Studio ou comment les films se font à Bombay, Paris, CNRS, 2004.
- Jaikumar, P., Cinema at the End of Empire, Durham, Duke University Press, 2006.
- Kaul, G., Cinema and the Indian Freedom Struggle, New Delhi, Sterling Publishers, 1998.
- Mehta, N., Television in India: Satellites, Politics and Cultural Change, London, Routledge, 2008.
- Mitra, A., Television and Popular Culture in India: A Study of the Mahabharat, New Delhi, SAGE Publications, 1994.
- Mitra, A., Through the Western Lens: Creating National Images in Film, New Delhi, SAGE Publications, 1999.
- Mishra, V., Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire, London, Routledge, 2001.
- Osborne, R., ‘India on Film, 1939-1947,’ in Grieveson, L. and MacCabe, C. (eds.), Film and the End of Empire, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, pp. 55-72.
- Page, D., and Crawley, W., Satellites over South Asia: Broadcasting, Culture and the Public Interest, New Delhi, SAGE Publications, 2001.
- Patel, D. and Dwyer, Cinema in India: The Visual Culture of Hindi Film, London, Reaktion Books, 2002.
- Prasad, M. M., Ideology of the Hindi Film: a Historical Construction, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1998.
- Prasad, M. M., ‘Cinema and the Desire for Modernity’, in Journal of Arts and Ideas, No. 25/26, 1993, pp. 71-86.
- Rajadhyaksha, A., ‘The Phalke Era: Conflict of Traditional Form and Modern Technology’, in Niranjana, T., Sudhir, P. and Dhareshwar, V. (eds.), Interrogating Modernity: Culture and Colonialism in India , Calcutta, Seagull Books, 1993, pp. 47-82.
- Rajadhyaksha, A. and Willemen, P. (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Rajadhyaksha, A., Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to the Emergency, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2009.
- Rajadhyaksha, A. (ed.), Kumar Shahani: The Shock of Desire and Other Essays, New Delhi, Tulika Books, 2015.
- Roberge, G., Another Cinema for Another Society, Calcutta, Seagull Books, 1989.
- Saari, A., Hindi Cinema: An Insider View, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Saari A., Indian Cinema: The Faces Behind the Masks, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Saksena, G., Television in India: Changes and Challenges, New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House, 1996.
- Sarkar, B. and Wolf, N. (eds.), ‘Indian Documentary Studies: Contours of a Field’, in Bioscope, Special Issue, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012, pp. 35-51.
- Sarkar, B., Mourning the Nation: Indian Cinema in the Wake of Partition, Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.
- Sarkar, B., Allegories of Dispersal: Nation and Participation in Indian Cinema, 1947-1977, PhD dissertation, University of Southern California, 1999.
- Sawhney, C. R. ‘Asian British Cinema, from the Margins to Mainstream’, in Screen Online (http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/475617/index.html), accessed on 22/02/2016.
- Srinivas, L., ‘The Active Audience, Spectatorship, Social Relations and the Experience of Cinema in India’, in Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2002, pp. 155-173.
- Vasudev, A., Liberty and Licence in the Indian Cinema, New Delhi, Vikas Publications, 1978.
- Vasudevan, R., ‘An Imperfect Public, Cinema and Citizenship in the “Third” World’, in Old Media/New Media: Ongoing Histories, New Delhi, Sarai, 2001, pp. 57-68.
- Virdi, J., The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History, Piscataway, Rutgers University Press, 2003.
- Wolf, N., ‘Foundations, Movements and Dissonant Images: Documentary Film and its Ambivalent Relations to the Nation State’, in Gokulsing, K. M. and Dissanayake, W. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Indian Cinemas, London, Routledge, 2013, pp. 360-373.
Selective Filmography of FD Films by Chronological Order
- ‘Glimpses of Gandhiji’ (N. K. Paralkar, 1949, 11 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Planned Parenthood’ (A. Bhaskar Rao, 1949, 9 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Blood Banks’ (K.L. Khandpur, 1950, 9 mins) - DVD
- ‘Co-operative Farming’ (K.L.Khandpur, 1950, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Our Constitution’ (Krishna Gopal, 1950,13 mins) - DVD
- ‘Yoga for Health’ (A. Bhaskar Rao, 1950,11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Accent On Asia’ (Krishna Gopal, 1951,12 mins) - DVD
- ‘Figuring It Out’ (V. R. Sharma, 1951, 9 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Rights And Responsibilities’ (Krishna Gopal, 1951, 13 mins) - DVD
- ‘Women In White’ (Mohan Wadhwani, 1951, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Glimpses of Assam’ (Mohan Wadhwani, 1952, 12 mins) - DVD
- ‘Wealth of our waters’ (P. Zils, 1952, 9 mins) - DVD
- ‘Feminine Fashions’ (K.L. Khandpur, 1953, 10 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Industrial Bihar’ (Mohan Wadhwani, 1953, 11 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Towards a Better Society’（Krishna Gopal, 1953,12 mins）- FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Darjeeling’ (K.L. Khandpur, 1954, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Good Manners’ (A. Bhaskar Rao, 1954, 11 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Modest Homes’ (K.L. Khandpur, 1954,10 mins) - DVD
- ‘Realm of Sound’ (J.S. Bhownagary, 1954, 18 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘The Case of Mr. Critic’ (Ravi Prakash, 1954, 11 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘For Better Travel (Integral Coach Factory)’ (Khandpur, 1955, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Tomorrow Is Ours’ (T. A. Abraham, 1955, 21 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Tungabhadra’ (Mohan N. Wadhwani, 1955, 10 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Children of God’ (V. R. Sharma, 1956, 18 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Earth and Water’ (P.V. Pathy, 1956, 15 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Electricity in the Service of Man’ (G.H. Saraiya, 1956, 11 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Gautama，The Buddha’ (Rajban Khanna, 1956, 63 mins) - DVD
- ‘Khajuraho’ (Mohan N.Wadhwani, 1956, 19 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Operation Khedda’ (Produced by Mohan Bhavnani, 1956, 12 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Working for the Plan’ (Kumar Chandrasekhar, 1956, 11 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Mandu - The City of Joy’ (Neil Gokhale, 1957, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Radha and Krishna’ (J.S.Bhownagary, 1957, 21 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Story of Cooperation’ (Mohan Wadhwani, 1957, 13 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose’ (Pijush Bose, 1958, 38 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Adiwasi’ (Adivasis) (Ramesh Gupta, 1958, 12 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘The Story of Dr. Karve’ (Neil Gokhale and Ram Gabale, 1958, 20 mins) - DVD
- ‘Our Industrial Age’ (Ramesh Gupta, 1959, 12 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Kangra and Kulu’ (N.S. Thapa, 1960, 15 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Inauguration of Nagaland’ (S.C. Desai, 1961, 6 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Rabindranath Tagore’ (Satyajit Ray, 1961, 51 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘The Vanishing Tribe’ (Ranvir Roy, 1961, 16 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Jain Temples of India’ (Arun Chaudhuri, 1963, 15 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Research For Better Food’ (T. A. Abraham, 1964, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Kal Udas Na Hogi (No Sad Tomorrow)’ (S. Sukhdev, 1965, 29 mins) - DVD
- ‘Personal Hygiene’ (Krishna Gopal, 1965, 10 mins) - DVD
- ‘Symbol of Progress’ (N.S.Thapa, 1965, 14 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Kailash At Ellora’ (Clement Baptista, 1966, 18 mins) - DVD
- ‘Music of India’ (A. Bhaskar Rao, 1966, 17 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘After the Eclipse’ (Sukhdev, 1967, 19 mins) - DVD
- ‘An Indian Day’（India’s 67） (Sukhdev, 1967, 55 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘And Miles to Go...’ (Sukhdev, 1967, 15 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Face to Face’ (T.A. Abraham, 1967, 19 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Report On Drought’ (Prem Vaidya, 1967, 22 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Homage to Lal Bahadur Shastri’ (S. Sukhdev, 1967, 10 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Homage to the Teacher’ (Mani Kaul, 1967, 3 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘I Am 20’ (S.N.S. Sastry, 1967, 20 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Project Sabarigiri’ (T. A. Abraham, 1967, 11 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘The House that Ananda Built’ (Billimoria, 1967, 20 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Through The Eyes of a Painter’ (M.F.Hussain, 1967, 18 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Transition’ (Chari, 1967, 19 mins) - DVD
- ‘And I Make Short Films’ (Sastry, 1968, 16 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘And the Stars look on’ (Omprakash Sharma, 1968, 12 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Apathy’ (Clement Baptista, 1968, 9 mins) - DVD
- ‘Claxplosion’ (Pramod Pati, 1968, 2 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Close to Nature’ (Shyam Benegal, 1968, 18 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Explorer’ (Pramod Pati, 1968, 7 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Forms and Designs’ (Mani Kaul, 1968, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Indian Youth An Exploration’ (Shyam Benegal, 1968, 20 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Moving Perspectives’ (Mrinal Sen, 1968, 39 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘SixFiveThreeTwo’ (Pramod Pati, 1968, 5 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Thoughts in a Museum’ (Sukhdev, 1968, 20 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘The Stuff Of Steel’ (Chidananda Dasgupta, 1969, 13 mins) - DVD
- ‘Towards National S.T.D.’ (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1969, 11 mins) - DVD
- ‘Two Decades of Irrigation’ (M.V. Krishnaswamy, 1969, 11 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Past in the Present’ (N.V.K. Murthy and Jag Mohan, 1970, 17 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Horoscope For A Child’ (Shyam Benegal, 1970, 22 mins) - DVD
- ‘Kathak’ (S.Sukhdev, 1970, 21 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Koodal’ (Tyeb Mehta, 1970, 16 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘On The Move’ (S.N.S. Sastry, 1970, 34 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Trip’ (Pramod Pati, 1970, 4 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘We Want To Live’ (B. N. Mehra, 1970, 18 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘A Village Smiles’ (Sukhdev, 1971, 16 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Durbargati Padma (There Flows Padma)’ (Ritwik Ghatak, 1971, 22 mins) - DVD
- ‘General Elections 1971’ (T. A. Abraham, 1971, 13 mins) - DVD
- ‘Khilonewala’ (Sukhdev, 1971, 19 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘The Inner Eye ( Binod Behari Mukherji )’ (Satyajit Ray, 1972, 22 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Twenty-five’ (Prem Vaidya, 1972, 17 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Cooperation is Success’ (Sukhdev, 1973, 19 mins) - DVD
- ‘Fire in the Belly’ (Kumar Shahani, 1973, 18 mins) - DVD
- ‘The Burning Sun’ (S.N.S. Sastry, 1973, 20 mins,) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Behind the Bread Line’ (Sukhdev, 1974, 27 mins)- FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Flash Back’ (S.N.S. Sastry, 1974, 22 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Man in Search of Man’ (Prem Vaidhya, 1974, 22 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Portrait Of A Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi)’ (S.N.S. Sastry, 1974, 17 mins) - DVD
- ‘Raga’ (S.N.S. Sastry, 1974, 6 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘The Nomad Puppeteers’ (Mani Kaul, 1974, 20 mins) - DVD
- ‘Voice of the People’ (Sukhdev, 1974, 17 mins) - FD YouTube & DVD
- ‘Guru Chengannur’ (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1975, 18 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘Nine Months to Freedom’ (S. Sukhdev, 1975, 67 mins) - FD YouTube
- ‘The Indian Woman - An Historical Assessment’ (Mani Kaul, 1975, 20 mins) - FD YouTube