The History Of Marathi Cinema

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The ‘realist’ aesthetics of this cinema is significant towards understanding the ‘New Marathi Cinema’ which draws its continuity as well as marks its break from the New Indian Cinema. The New Indian Cinema or Parallel Cinema was later showcased on the national television channel through emerging satellite television and also DVD and cassette culture that led to the middle-class audiences discarding of the Marathi cinema (Ingle, 2015). Also, the middle-class audience moved towards Marathi theatre .

It was with the emergence of actor-producer-directors Mahesh Kothare, Lakshmikant Berde, Sachin Pilgaonkar and Ashok Sharaf along with Amol Palekar that they were able to bring the re-cast the Marathi cinema through producing middle-class comedies—, dramas for the Marathi urban-middle classes, especially the young-middle class . However, this middle-class oriented comedies had lost the family audiences, the women from the middle-class were no more going to the cinemas; the satellite television being the primary reason .

Post-1980s Marathi cinema was in decline, it was difficult to exhibit the Marathi films in the city like Bombay and its suburbs as exhibiters were not available, it was only within the traditional exhibition spaces such as Bharat Mata where these were exhibited. The situation regarding exhibition and reception was similar in the small towns such as Nashik, Solapur and Aurangabad while in hinterlands such as Marathwada and Vidarbha, it was bleaker . It was only with the state government support that Marathi cinema was able to survive on its edge, it made mandatory for all cinemas in the state to reserve four weeks of playing time for screening Marathi films from what year?.

Government incentives including the enhancement of the ceiling under the tax refund scheme which was raised to Rs. 12 lacs for each producer up to 6 films i.e. the producer wouldill receive benefit of 12 lacs only after the film becomes a hit and only if the producer then goes on to make the next film. This was another support through which Marathi cinema was sustained . Marathi cinema thus, before the emergence of the multiplex centres which radically transformed the exhibition spaces, was in a steady state of decline and mainly catering to lower-working classes, while Marathi middle-classes audiences had shifted to its competitor i.e. the Bombay Cinema or other cultural forms within the region including theatre, and television. The producers and distributors were merely much interested in balancing off their finances without anticipating any heavy returns or huge profits.

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‘New’ in ‘New Marathi Cinema’

Shanta Gokhale in her article in Frontline (October, 2013) titled ‘Standing Tall’ while tracing the trajectory of the Marathi Cinema, makes the claim that Marathi Cinema which is as old as Indian cinema itself has not just arrived but is thriving at present referring to the resurgence of the Marathi cinema post-Shwaas. Gokhale underlines the emergence of three factors which provided the Marathi cinema with the boost that was required these include the coming-up of multiplexes which marked a transformation in the exhibition spaces largely replacing the single screens thatwhich led to the emergence of small-budget, non-star films. to be exhibited.

After the economic post-liberalisation the corporations as well ases , private television channels that as well as established Hindi film production houses began to invest in Marathi films also. And the state’s strict enforcement of the 1969 Act that made it compulsory for cinema houses to screen Marathi films for atleast four weeks in a year., Hhowever recently Maharashtra government has recently issued a diktat regarding showcasing of Marathi cinema at multiplexes during prime-time slot ie. 6-9 pm, later it was changed to 12-9 pm. Through this reading of Gokhale’s article it is clear that the ‘New’ in the ‘New Marathi Cinema’ is to be located within the production and exhibition circuits of this regional cinema.

Hrishikesh Ingle in his essay ‘Multiplex Exhibition and New Marathi Cinema’ argues that the reframing of the exhibition context to multiplexes characterised the emergence of emerging new Marathi Cinema. The aesthetic shift in the cinematic practices of Marathi cinema is then to be located in the shift in the exhibition spaces from the single screens to what Ingle refers to as the ‘new economy’ in the form of the ‘mall-multiplex phenomena’. The mall-multiplex initially displaced the Marathi cinema audience, these included the working-classes and later relocated the Marathi film audience within the framework of consumerism and leisure. This transformed film audience’s relation to the experience of watching cinema, as now with the Multiplex there were many more options available as one could choose from a variety including Hindi, Hollywood as well as regional films. What distinguishes multiplexes in India is that it makes space for complex cinematic multiplicity i.e. it does not identify with particular set of films but rather provides access to the ‘latest’ from a wide variety to choose – mainstream or fringe (Sharma, 2003).

The mall-multiplex economy can be seen as a reflection of the consumerist aspiration of the new urban middle-class. There has been a shift in the film production due to the alteration in the exhibition spaces i.e. multiplex theatres has given rise to low-budget, issue-based films with non-stars. The aesthetics of this cinema is mostly catering to the middle-class aspirations and sensibilities however there are exceptions (Viswanath, 2007). The multiplex economy is credited to the re-orientation of the Marathi middle-class spectator whoich and his or her return to watching Marathi cinema in theatres. Also, the Hindi Cinema and Marathi Cinema (which had gone into oblivion) were now exhibited within the same spaces of the multiplex for the same audiences. This marked both continuities and discontinuities of Marathi cinema in terms of the aesthetics and its interaction with the hegemonic aesthetics of the ‘mainstream’ Hindi Cinema. It is important to state that the ‘New Wave’ of Marathi Cinema then is one form amongst others within Marathi Cinema. However, films like Sairat (2016) are interesting in this context in terms of its negotiation with the mainstream Hindi film aesthetics.

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