Three hours of nonstop entertainment full with larger-than-life sequences is what Bollywood offers us on a platter every now and then. For the longest time, the Indian audiences have been accused of being mindless spectators in a cinema hall. But isn’t the film fraternity supposed to take the responsibility of developing the cinema taste of their s- called dumb audience? Well, if not everyone, some did put efforts in bringing about a cinematic revolution beginning with the stalwart Satyajit Ray, often credited for the birth of the parallel movement in Indian cinema. A lot of young, passionate filmmakers obviously followed the veteran’s path. 

Parallel cinema, in its simplest form, refers to an intense, realistic portrayal of the society through stimulating dramas on celluloid.

Take a look at the following cinematic pieces that came out of this movement, which inspire a lot of filmmakers even today.

Apu Trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)
Director: Satyajit Ray
apu final

The pioneer of the parallel movement in the country, Satyajit Ray, was destined to create extraordinary cinema. Based on two Bengali novels, the trilogy comprises three films; Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, which narrate a coming-of-age story of a young Bengali boy.

Mirch Masala (1980)
Director: Ketan Mehta
mirch final-compressed
In those days when women strived to be significant, Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala, set in the colonial repressive times, is a masterstroke. The story is simple; a woman (Smita Patil) escaping from the evil desires of an exploitive subhedar, decides to protest. What is extraordinary is the film’s execution. To understand why it is extraordinary, watch the film today. Truly impressive, it exactly shows how the psyche of an oppressed person works.

Arth (1982)
Director: Mahesh Bhatt
arth final

Allegedly based on the director's extramarital affair with actress Parveen Babi, Arth tackles the horrors of infidelity, divorce, loss of identity among other complex aspects of our lives. It is one of the finest gems Indian cinema gave us and is still considered Mahesh Bhatt’s best work till date. 

Salaam Bombay (1988)
Director: Mira Nair
salaam bombay-compressed

The director, in her bid to make the film as realistic as possible, used real life street children. After long workshops and talk sessions with them trying to teach them not to act but to be real in front of the camera, her efforts showed glowing results as is evident from the masterpiece the film Salaam Bombay went on to become.

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)
Director: Aparna Sen
mr and mrs iyer-compressed

Simple yet powerful! This thought-provoking drama, starring Konkana Sen Sharma and Rahul Bose in the lead, talks about the horrors of communalism in the Indian society. It narrates the ordeals of a young man and woman, en route a bus journey when communal riots break out endangering the lives of everyone.

Do you find the same passion in the directors today? Who is your favorite among the country’s many intellectual filmmakers? Let us know in the comment below.