Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 9 (Oct-Dec 1984) p. 23.


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Genres in Indian Cinema

Sanjeev Prakash

Indian Cinema Superbazaar, edited by Aruna Vasudev and Phillippe Lenglet, Vikas, New Delhi, 1983, 384 pp., Rs. 150

OF necessity every critical anthology reflects a dual bias. The first is the bias of editing seen in the selection of themes, authors and opinions for representation. The second is the enfolding bias of time, which has a contextual relationship with the former as space has with substance. The first is usually obvious, and readily commented upon;

the second is subtler though more important, defining the crucial issue of dominant values, of what will be considered acceptable or objectionable, as also the very terms within which any critical dialogue can operate. The second kind of bias is seen in the division of Indian Cinema into the Popular/New classifications around which current discussions on the subject frequently revolve. Yet these terms are often so loosely used that they rob such discussions of any meaningful substance. Strangely enough, critics and filmmakers still spend a great deal of time in trying consciously to fit films into such categories.

Surely the time has come for us to realize that Indian Cinema contains many streams : each one a truth. The alternative is to work at the limits of a hostile polarization of form when what the time calls for is assimilation and convergence. A major criticism levelled against the Popular Cinema is that it is cliched and unrealistic. The New Cinema, on the other hand, supposedly reflects a truer picture, intellectually and aesthetically, of contemporary reality. Linked with these assumptions is the view that the Popular Cinema is socially and morally irresponsible, that it consists of exploitative fantasy. The New Cinema meanwhile, is invested with certain moral and intellectual dimensions which make it, broadly speaking, follow the aesthetic credo of realism. It is

Journal of Arts and Ideas 23


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