thereby pointed to problems had inherently subversive potential. Although Soviet cinema never regained the world-wide prestige it had enjoyed in the late 1920s, films once again became worth watching and a positive contribution to cultural life.
Kenez, Peter ( 1992), Cinema and Soviet Society, 1917-1953.
Leyda, Jay ( 1960), Kino: A History of Russian and Soviet Film.
Stites, Richard ( 1992), Soviet Popular Culture: Entertainment and Society in Russia since 1900.
India is one of the largest and most culturally varied countries in the world. It is second only to China in population, and second only to the United States in the scale and importance of its film industry. Indian films are popular not only in India itself, but in large parts of Asia and Africa and in many other countries where there are communities of Indian descent. The roots of a distinctive Indian cinema stretch back a long way and encompass a variety of cultural traditions. While Bombay was, and is, the main centre of Indian film production, film industries grew up early in the century throughout the subcontinent -- in Calcutta, Madras, Lahore, and other major centres -- basing their activity on theatrical and artistic modes which combined western and indigenous models. Out of this fusion sprang a number of genres such as the 'mythological' (based on Hindu myths and legends) which are unique to India.
Bombay and the Parsee theatre
History in India, as the historian D. D. Kosambi liked to show, often expresses itself geographically. In Bombay, even today, an arc in the heart of the city swings from the textile mills of Parel and Lalbaug to the famous dockyards adjoining Reay Road, the giant seconds market Chor Bazaar, the red-light area of Falkland Road, and towards the industrial wholesale trade up to Lohar Chawl and Crawford Market. This area, not over 10 square miles, saw the rise of the first (and then the richest) industrial working class in India, and was the base of the country's colonial economy on the west coast. It was also the place where the Indian film industry was born. The Kohinoor Film Company in Dadar, the Ranjit Movietone in Parel, and the Imperial Film Company adjoining today's Nana Chowk, the three largest studios India ever saw, flourished by the late 1920s within a few miles of each other.
The country's trader-capitalists, the kind who invested in the nascent entertainment industries of theatre and then film, emerged as a powerful economic class mainly through coastal trading with the west, Middle East, and China. Many of the first shipping enterprises of Surat and Bombay were set up by Parsees, later the founders of the nationally famed genre of the Parsee theatre.
The Parsee theatre, often considered the direct ancestor to the song-dance-action stereotype of the Hindi cinema, established itself as an industry when Sir Jamsedjee Jeejeebhoy bought the Bombay Theatre in 1835. Jeejeebhoy was one of India's biggest trader-industrialists, with a flourishing export business with China and Europe in silk, yarn, cotton, and handicrafts, and later the founder of the influential art academy, the J.J. School ( 1857), while the Bombay Theatre had begun in 1776, built as a straight copy of London's Drury Lane theatre and known, until then, mainly for performances of plays like Sheridan's School for Scandal and for its colonial British clientele. The combination established both a genre and an industry: the Bombay Theatre was followed by the even more famous Grant Road Theatre ( 1846), adapting local themes to the Elizabethan stage idiom. The romance drama, the 'mythological', the 'historical', and the adventure saga taken from popular Indian legendary tales such as Firdausi's tenth-century Shah Nama were accompanied by the first big adaptations of Shakespeare into Gujarati and Urdu. The music they used was inspired by the opera to transform the popular 'light-classical' north Indian musical, and thus to invent one of the ancestors of the early Hindi film song.
In Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and Lahore, but also in other cities, this brand of theatre was exhibited in a series of theatre palaces, usually ringed around the 'native' parts of town, in such a way as to be available to its richer clientele but also to keep its cultural distance from them. In Bombay the Edward, the oldest surviving theatre in India, was built in 1860, and was followed by the Empire, the Gaiety (now Capitol), and the Royal Opera House.
In its earliest days film exhibition was restricted to travelling tent theatres using the Edison and after 1907 the Pathé projection systems. From 1910, however, the first cinemas began to be built while the famous theatre