This article presents the main conclusions of a two-year research project that aimed at reconstructing the history of the Indian documentary film sector over the first three decades of independence (1948–1975), based on the combined empirical study of rare official documents, interviews and under-studied films. It looks into the organisation, development and governance of the Indian documentary sector and films, details how the state plan of national integration informed the development of the documentary and how the independent state organised and controlled the sector. This article also presents how the films articulated the state’s vision and challenges in the area of nation-building. It reveals that the documentary film sector was the stage of intense power relationships between the government, who prioritised the use of documentary as an instrument of official information; private companies, which claimed the right to free enterprise; in-house and independent filmmakers, who pleaded for greater free speech and artistic expression; and the general audience, who gradually criticised the repetitive form of the films and the growing gap between official messages delivered in the films and the reality on the ground. These tensions more widely reflect the challenges of identity formation and national integration in post-colonial India.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- documentary film
- state policy