This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Achilles Rasquinha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

100 Years Of A Glorious Journey: A Flashback Into Indian Cinema

More from Achilles Rasquinha

By Achilles Rasquinha:

We are Indians and a unique ecstasy is to share among us. We’re dreamers and we dream for the ambitious ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ parivaar, or the epic end to DDLJ’s tale of romance in our lives, or even the mystery behind what ‘Rajini can’t’! The art of storytelling is a gene engulfed in our every celluloid. And here is just another untold story, the story of our Indian cinema, an evolution which wishes to make itself known to all, a story which truly defines us as Indians.


There is this beautiful element about us Indians and it is that we explore the simplest of ideas. Be it the elegant game of gentleman’s cricket or the picturesque art of story-telling. It is we who feel inspired, add our spice to it and explore it to the awaiting audience. One such enlighten-er was the owner of a printing press who initiated the spark, producing and directing the first full-length feature film for the Indian film industry, ‘Raja Harishchandra’. Dadasaheb Phalke was, is and will continue to remain the Father of Indian cinema. And thus began the story of the 100 year-old journey of the Indian cinema.

Dichromatic black and white movies engineered its journey ahead with Dadasaheb’s film at the starting juncture. Raja Harishchandra (1913) was a silent tale to the initiating voice of the Indian art of cinematography. Silence later turned into audible words and symphonic music when India’s first sound film, ‘Alarm Ara’ was released in 1931. History accounts that police aid had been required to control masses, waiting to see this new tech-update in films. That same year of 1931, Telugu and Tamil film industries branched out releasing their first films Bhakta Prahlada and Kalidas respectively, which led to the rise of multilingualism in this very art. The industry with an initial starting cost of one anna (4 paise) per ticket, rose commercially. But the tale that followed remains eternal. The tale of Devdas, his long-lost love Parvati a.k.a. Paro and the observing Chandramukhi which shifted its way from a Bengali novella to a Bengali film in 1935, captivating every eye of the nation, enthralling every niche and corner.

And there was a sudden halt. It was the time of the struggle for Independence; Intermission.

The tale continues with the beginning of the Golden Era of the Indian cinema post-Independence, with Bengal’s The Apu Trilogy making a mark on the platform of world cinema. The sheer brilliance of cinematography skills used, the art of foretelling Apu’s innocence tagged itself being the greatest films of all time on the global scale. Spotlight over us, curtains drawn, we were now making our way onto the world’s podium. It was our time to add our masala for experimentation. It was us who provided numerous cinematography techniques like bounce lighting, photo-negative flashbacks, X-ray digression, etc. It was us who inspired Steven Spielberg to bring about his 1982 E.T. with our The Alien in 1979; and this just adds to our pride. Commercialism raised its stakes higher with Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt offering us their glorious classics and with Mother India granting us the ‘Oscar fame’, Mughal-e-Azam and what not! Critics never failed to appreciate and applaud every productive art from the cinematic factory. Dialogues began to echo on every tongue. It’s more than just an industry of name, fame and wealth. It continues to remain a medium for masses, a medium to express the tale of every Indian knitted with a string of similar tales. And this led to another uprising of an art, the art of Parallel Cinema.

Modern cinema shone its way ahead as Bachchan solidified himself concretely and so did Shah Rukh Khan’s mesmerizing charm. The key to a successful film shifted from a notable director to a sheer actor. Masala sprinkled over every film as dance and music continued to enlighten us all. Rafi’s charm, Kishore’s enigma and Lataji’s melodious chirps continue to reverberate even today. Bombay’s Bollywood rose and so did Telugu’s Tollywood or in that case, Tami Nadu’s Kollywood. The Indian cinema turned a new medium of investment and it enlightened everyone with actors dancing behind the orchids as they murmur titter-bitter lyrics, some songs, and questions over “Shabash!”, “Kyu?” and “Yeh nahi ho saktaaa!” conundrum, and some more songs. Industry turned cheesier if that seems legitimate. But it led to yet another downfall.

Entertainment is the aim of today’s films and not a medium of expression. The entire movie revolves around either why Munni remained badnaam or Sheila’s mundane jawaani. A problem maybe either that we’re out of storylines, or imitating a Hollywood flick, or even squeezing and draining out talent; the entire modus operandi seems incorrect. Movies today may have wooed the target audience but nevertheless, ‘Mogambo khush nahi hua!’ The industry upsets us today, losing the very art of cinematography.

Our legacy must move ahead for another 100 years with pride because ‘picture, abhi baaki hai mere dost!’

You must be to comment.
  1. sirius lee

    Interesting! This is so well written.

More from Achilles Rasquinha

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Karishma Sahay

By Atypical Advantage

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below