India is the leader in film production. Indian cinema has yielded 28,000 feature films and thousands of documentaries so far. The first exposure to motion picture was received by India in 1896, when Lumiere Brothers' cinematograph unveiled six soundless short films at Watson Hotel, Esplanade Mansion, Bombay on July 7.
The first exposing of celluloid in camera by an Indian and its consequent screening took place in 1899, when Harishchandra Bhatwadekar (Save Dada) shot two short films and exhibited them under Edison's projecting kinetoscope.
Hiralal Sen and F B Thanawalla were two Indian pioneers engaged in the production of short films in Calcutta and Bombay in 1900. Around 1902, J.F. Madan and Abdullah Esoofally launched their career with Bioscope shows of imported short films.
In 1912, N. G. Chitre, and R.G. Torney made silent feature film 'Pundalik' which was released on May 18, and it was half British in its make.
Dhunraj Govind Phalke, more generally known as Dada Saheb Phalke was responsible for the production of India's first fully indigenous silent feature film Raja Harish Chandra which heralded the birth of the Indian Film industry.
The film had titles in Hindi and English and was released on May 3, 1913 at the coronation cinema in Bombay. In 1917, Bengal saw the birth of its first feature film, 'Satyabadi Raja Harishchandra' made by Madan's Elphinstone Bioscope Company. In Madras the first feature film of South India 'Keechaka Vadham' was made by Nataraja Mudaliar in 1919.
After stepping in to 1920. The Indian cinema, gradually assumed the shape of a regular industry. The industry also came within the purview of the law.
The first Indian talkie Alam Ara produced by the imperial film company and directed by Ardeshir Irani released on March 14.
1931 at Majestic cinema in Bombay. The talkie had brought revolutionary changes in the whole set up of the industry. The year '31 marked the beginning of the talkie era in Bengal and South India.
The thirties are recognized as the decade of social protest in the history of Indian cinema. The decade also witnessed the release of first talkie films in regional languages such as Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Assamese, Malayalam, etc.
The decade of World War II and Indian independence was a momentous one for cinematography all over India.
Some memorable films were produced during the 40s such as V. Shantaram's Dr. 'Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani', Mehboob's 'Roti', Chetan Anand's 'Neecha Nagar', Abbas's 'Dharti Ke Lai, Raj Kapoor's 'Barsaat' and 'Aag'.
The first International Film Festival of India held in early 1952 at Bombay had great impact on Indian Cinema. The big turning point came in 1955 with the release of Satyajit Ray and his classic 'Pather Panchali'.
In Hindi cinema too, the impact of neorealism was evident in some distinguished films like Bimal Roy's 'Do Bigha Zameen'. 'Devdas', 'Madhumati', Raj Kapoor's 'Boot Polish', 'Shri 420' and 'Jagte Raho', Mehboob's 'Mother India' and so on.
In 1953, the first color feature, Jhansi Ki Rani was made. Mother India (1957), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Ganga Jamuna (1961), Sangam (1964), Bobby (1973), Sholay (1975), have been some of the successful films at the box office and trend setters in the commercial cinema.
In sixties, mediocre films were made mostly to please the distributors and to some extent, meet the demands of the box office, such as, Mughal-E-Azam, Guide, Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam, Aradhana, etc.
Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen were the founding fathers of the new cinema in India. Roy was fortunate enough to present his films in almost all the leading film festivals of the world. The national and international awards won by Roy are numerous.
In seventies, the trend for new wave cinema started in India with the release of Mrinal Sen's Bhuvan Shome (1969).
This boosted the production of small budget films with simple plots but rich in resonance. It was followed by Sara Akash, Rajnigandha, Chhoti Si Baat, Chitchor, Swami, Arth and Gudgudee.
The new wave cinema movement continued with full spirit in seventies and eighties also. Some of the good movies like Manthan, Bhoomika, Junoon, 36-Chowringhee Lane, Mirch Masala, Trishagni were produced during this period.
Regional cinema also developed almost simultaneously in thi rties in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Bengal, Karnataka, Assam, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
Nineties saw the revival of the musical love stories in Hindi cinema such as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Chandni, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, etc.