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History of Bengali Cinema

 

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The two facets of modern-day Bengali cinema, Tollywood and Dhallywood (puns of Hollywood) of which, Tollywood is the eldest, began in the early 1930's, the roots of which lay within the East India Film Company. In those days, cinema had a different name; bioscope, as it was called, in Bengal, first saw the daylights in the hands of Hiralaal Sen, a famous photographer from the then East Bengal. He was the first to film realistic footages in Calcutta and Dhaka between 1898 and 1901. The dance sequences of The flower of Persia were shot by him in Calcutta in 1898; it stands as the earliest example of a film shot by a Bengali and an Indian. The Royal Bioscope Company of Mr. Sen was the first film exhibition and production company in the undivided Bengal, though commercial viewpoint was first noticed through the silent features Raja Harish Chandra (1913) and BilbaMangal (1919).

 

 

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If someone poses a question regarding the name Tollywood, it is because the center of the Bengali film industry is Tollygunge, an area in South Kolkata, West Bengal. That inevitably brings forth the names of prominent filmmakers in the Bengali film industry like Bimal Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray. But even before them, the scene comprised major names like Raichand Boral, Pankaj Mullick and K. C. Dey, all of whom were associated with the New Theatres Studio in the Tollywood.

 

Among the stars who are now considered the epitomes of role-playing, it is the duo Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen who, till today, remain the most popular. Quality writing also being a part, it was an assemblage of thoughts that created the timeless classics like Shoptopodi and Anthony Firingi. Remake of western classics had also been a trend; Bhrantibilaash, the Bengali version of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors and Bhanu Goenda Jahar Assistant (inspired by Roman Holiday) are the biggest examples of the genre.

 

Now, Bangla is not only the language of West Bengal; it is the language of Bangladesh as well. Therefore, while talking about Bangla cinema, the account of the movies that are created in Bangladesh also show-up. Referred as Dhallywood (the industry is located at Dhaka), film exhibition began in Bangladesh towards the end of the 1890s, followed by the production of silent movies that began in the 1900s. It took almost 50 years for Bangladesh to graduate to the production of films with sound, which occurred through the making of The face and the Mask (1956). It also marked the advent of the first theatrical feature produced in Bangladesh, then East Pakistan. However, other less-celebrated beginnings in the early decades of the twentieth century also prevail, the chief patrons of which were the young members of the Nawab family of Dhaka, who made films during the 1920s. A silent short film, Sukumari, needs to be mentioned in this regard; another one sharing a similar importance is The Last Kiss (1929), released in Mukul Theatre in Dhaka in 1931.

 

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