In 1913, the first full-length motion picture film was released in India. Raja Harishchandra, produced by Dadasaheb Phalke, who is considered to be the father of Indian cinema, was a huge success. By the 1930s, the industry was producing over 200 films per year.
This year, India celebrates 100 years in cinema. And for all the “firsts” – first black-and-white CinemaScope film, first color movie, first influences of Bollywood films on musicals in the Western World – Kodak film technology has been there.
Cinematographer B.S. Basavaraju, S.I.C.A, notes, “Kodak has provided services by upgrading its products according to the needs of cinematographers, and introducing them to the latest technology through technical workshops, hence, helping the film industries across the world.”
According to Basavaraju, ever since the 1930s when the magic of cinema blossomed in India, the movie business has continued to grow in different parts of the nation. And now, films are being produced in all the top 15-20 languages to meet the demands of all kinds of audiences. He estimates that recently around 500-600 movies in total throughout all the regions are produced each year.
Cinematographer A.K. Bir, notes that since its inception and up to now, cinema – through its commendable achievements – has proven to be “a democratic art, transcending all the mundane barriers, boundaries , differences and varied conditions; it has transformed into a universal language .This is the beauty and its inherent spirit.”
He adds, “Through film, cinematographers have enthralled audiences, by taking their breath away or hinting at the mysteries of the human heart. As artists, with raw stock provided by Kodak over the centuries, we have enabled the human mind to experience the warmth of true color and the depth of genuine light and shadow. With its vast tonal range, Kodak film has given us much more leeway to create mood and convey emotional depth. … Whether it is pathos, anguish, serenity, tragedy, fun, thrills, or adventure, Kodak film enables me to create a magical atmosphere.
Sivaraman, general manager of operations at Prasad Film Laboratories Chennai, makes these observations as he reflects on Indian cinema during this momentous occasion: “In India, movie-going is a culture, and the impact of cinema on the audience is very wide and deep. They laugh, they cry and experience many emotions while watching films. They are temporarily transported to the world of make-believe every time. In the history of Indian cinema, it is written that a generation wept over Devdas, the tragic hero in the movie of the same name (Devdas). And the emotional impact of Mother India was unparalleled in the history of Indian cinema. I was told that women in the audience used to sob in the theatres and even men would come out of the theatres (movie hall) with moist eyes. Such was the intensity of the emotions.”
Sivaraman acknowledges that Kodak has been a world leader in motion picture imaging technology right from the birth of cinema. “It is Kodak’s R&D which has made silver halide technology the most beautiful and efficient system of recording images, which remains true today. Hence, Kodak’s contribution to cinema worldwide is well known and India is no exception.”
At Kodak, we are humbled and grateful to be partners with such imminent filmmakers throughout Indian cinema. And we take extreme pride in being part of the legacy created by storytellers over the centuries.
We congratulate Indian cinema on its centennial, and look forward to many more cinematic endeavors!