The Indian documentary… historical background has this two-part commentary on the Indian documentary. It begins thus: “The Indian documentary may be traced back to the ‘Factual films’ or Topicals as they were called, of Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar (Save Dada) who in 1899 shot a wrestling match and between two well-known wrestlers Pundalik Dada and Krishna Navi at Bombay’s Hanging Gardens. A short followed this on the antics of monkeys – the first Indian ‘documentaries.’ In 1901 he made perhaps the first Indian newsreel of the public reception accorded to Ragunath P Paranjpye who had won a special distinction in Maths at Cambridge and in 1903 covered the great Durbar held in Delhi to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII.
Part II of the article here concludes thus: “With the advent of video and particularly DV, today the entire scenario of documentary filmmaking of India has changed. More and more independent filmmakers and organizations are making their own documentaries. While continuing to make documentaries, Films Division organized the inauguaral International Film Festival for documentaries, short films and animations in both film and video formats at Mumbai in 1990, where much of this work was seen along with short films, animations and documentaries made internationally. The Festival, competitive in nature, also includes retrospectives of Master Documentary Filmmakers the world over and has an International Film Market to help filmmakers sell their films. The Festival has become so successful that it is now held every two years in Mumbai with the 7th edition scheduled in February 2002.
Too bad it didn’t take note of the initiatives of film-makers, particularly their fight against archiac censorship concepts.

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