While the perceived image of the land’s cinema industry, its players, and more so its current output of biopics is none-too-flattering in circles of society who have nostalgic memories of the classical movies of their bygone days, the country has the dubious distinction of world’s highest producer of movies in multiplicity of languages, including Kannada. Their number for 2016 is reportedly 1,902. The industry has facilitated a number of actors (both male and female) earn celebrity status in society, although, unlike their predecessors of several decades back, enjoy that status only as long as they are in circulation as it were. To the credit of the industry goes providing stable livelihood, directly and indirectly, to a number not matched by virtually any other sector in the land. In short, India’s about 9,000 silver screens on which the patrons view movies reportedly generate a revenue of more than 13,000 crore rupees in a year.
Not too long ago, Bengaluru (the then Bangalore city) hosted more than 120 cinema halls, prompting an astute observer to remark that one out of every 100 residents of the city could be traced to one or the other cinema hall at any time of the day. Those were the days when television penetration in society was not yet perceptibly considerable. The small screen has lately dented the patronage of the big screen to a significant extent.
The saga of India’s Cinema can never be narrated adequately in words compared to the narratives that we can still listen to from old timers fortunate enough to have lived in the times of legends, everyone of whom was a household name, cutting across languages and regions of the land. The images of those legends and scenes showing their unparalleled display of acting prowess while either delivering dialogues or rendering songs have been mostly preserved in the national archives for the benefit of present generation and also posterity. The ratio of silver screen to India’s headcount, estimated at one screen for 1,54,000 people has to be understood in the backdrop of the ratio of the small screen (TV) to the country’s population which is far more flattering. There is hardly any Indian who is denied access to the small screen, particularly telecasting movies nowadays.
To make a long story short, while the gamut of features of a movie such as its appeal to patrons with refined taste for art and work of its artistes in the bygone days mirrored its immortality, movies of our times, barring exceptions, are rated for their Box office returns, in addition to the amounts paid to the leading stars in amounts of whopping astronomical proportions. Also, nobody is heard grumbling about the soaring amounts one has to cough-up to enter the multiplexes of today.