Cinema in India is immensely varied in terms of the languages, forms, stars, systems of production, and audiences it encompasses. It is the largest film industry in the world. It is the ninth largest industry within the country and offers employment to over 2.25 million people. An average of over 800 films have been produced per year in the 1980s and 1990s, and in the same years this number has been closer to 950. The average attendance in cinema halls in the country in the early 1980s was 3,676 million,1 and vast numbers of people within and beyond the nation state watch videotapes of Indian films.
It is tempting to study Indian cinema as a "Third World" cinema, given its notable marginalization in Western contexts. Such analysis however, with its inescapable connotations of dependency, even inferiority, recenters the West in the domain of culture, fails to see cultural productions within their own economic contexts, elides cultural flows outside mainstream Western televisual contexts, and assumes "internationalism" to necessarily involve the West. In the specific case of Indian cinema, such analysis would fail to account for the enormity of the film industry in India, the diversity of the productions themselves, and the prominent position of this cinema within and outside India. Further, such an approach would sway between homogenization of the Third World and the homogenization of a national "essence."
This chapter presents an overview of the history of the "Indian Film Industry," emphasizing the economic aspects of the industry, but also touching on cultural and other considerations that relate in varying ways to the industrial. It emphasizes the variety of regional industries that comprise filmmaking in the country, as well as the ever-changing relationship of indigenous capital, state monies, and international interests with cinema in India. Further, I examine the links and divergences between popular filmmaking, "art" cinema, and the Indian "middle" cinema that brings together these two realms. This work also outlines some of the important international con