Can Indian Cinema Be Considered Art?

by Annie Saxena on Feb 09, 2023

Movies are a story or event recorded by a camera as a set of moving images and shown in a theater or on television – a motion picture. It’s a visualization based on an idea someone decided to create, using technology and intelligence, along with others to help create this “fantasy” visual telling. It’s a story put together by talent, hard work and dedication. It can entertain, inform, persuade, praise, please, inspire and scare audience and critics. Art is anything that expresses feelings or captures moments. You may be surprised, but even action and horror movies are art. They express adrenaline and fear. Romance expresses love, and comedy expresses joy and satire.

Although some people abuse Indian cinema as a way to cash in on a book, most films are works of cinematic art. They’re the work of genius, and creativity. Movies invoke emotions, they have stories. They create an entire universe with this story that the audience follows. Like art has M.F Husain, S.H Raza and Satish Gujral, Indian films have Satyajit Ray, Rakesh Omprakash Mehra and Mani Ratnam, to name a few. Some movies linger in our minds for some time, some get blown away by an upcoming blockbuster breeze. Then there are those movies that not only stay with us forever but also transcend the taste barrier and become a work of art, a piece that will follow its viewers forever and be known as a medium that stated something important for the future generations.

There are several films in Indian Cinema that have conveyed emotions and reached our soul. For instance, Elippathyam, a Malayalam film, documents feudal life in Kerala at its twilight. The protagonist is trapped within himself and is unable to comprehend the changes taking place around him. The movie won the British Film Institute award for Most Original and Imaginative film shown at the National Film Theatre in 1982. Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, has a universal humanist appeal. It contains great moments of sadness, but, for the most part, it concentrates on the beauty of the world around us. Instead of resorting to melodrama to depict the miseries of life, the film decides to take them on with a straight face and full of human dignity. This movie is a form of self expression therefore it is art.

K. Asif’s Mughal-E-Azam can definitely be considered art. It is remembered as one of the greatest works put out by Indian cinema. The sheer ambition of the production, the scale of Asif’s vision, the painful detailing overseen by the film’s director in its umpteen departments – all of this showed when the film finally released in 1960.

Recently, a new breed of cinephiles have now taken into their hands to change the way Indian cinema is perceived today – or so it seems. With the like of filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Bannerjee, Ashim Ahluwalia and Anand Gandhi bringing lesser known concepts like arthouse to the big screens, portraying philosophical queries in the form of easily understandable episodes, the spirit of good cinema seems to be reaching more people thankfully.

It’s commonly said that film is the only art form whose historical origins we can determine. Indian cinema, in spite of all its fetishes, has always been a mirror image of the cultural, socioeconomic and the political transformation that emerged in the nation, thereby creating extremely impactful movies that cannot only be considered as art, but are art.