Snakes, Sirens and Vamps: A Short History of Early Indian Cinema

Snakes, Sirens and Vamps: A Short History of Early Indian Cinema
A talk illustrated with clips, by Anupama Kapse
Live musical accompaniment for select clips by Robin Sukhadia

When: Friday, July 24, 2009, 7:30pm
Where: Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Cost: $8-$10 (Tickets at the door only)

Mythological magic, swashbuckling adventure, melodrama and romance – Cinema inspired the imagination of the subcontinent very early in its history. By the 1920s, early Indian cinema had found its own sophisticated language drawn from a strong tradition of story-telling and theater. By the time the National Film Archive was created in the 60s, a large part of this rich cinematic heritage had been lost to the vagaries of tropical heat and rain. But some gems remain. 3rd i is proud to bring you this opportunity, as part of its Speaker Series, to see rare excerpts from some of the earliest films from the subcontinent, including: Kaliya Mardan (1919), by India’s film pioneer D.G. Phalke, about the exploits of a young Krishna; Gallant Hearts (1931), ‘a fast and furious comedy-action-adventure film, filled with court intrigues, rowdy sword fights, and fantastic locations’, modeled after The Thief of Baghdad (1924); films from the legendary Bombay Talkies studio; and early sound films like Achut Kanya (1936) and Aadmi (1939).

Anupama Kapse will provide an introduction to each film, and lead us through a short history of early Indian cinema, from the silent era into the arrival of sound on the Indian filmscape. All films will be presented in a digital format; since most of these films have not been restored, the quality of some of the clips reflects the archival nature of the prints. Robin Sukhadia will provide musical accompaniment for select clips.

About the Speaker
Anupama Kapse will be joining Queens College as Assistant Professor media studies this fall. Berkeley. Her doctoral thesis, The Moving Image: Melodrama and Early Cinema in India, 1913-1947, examines the genres of Indian silent cinema through a melodramatic lens. She is currently co-editing a collection of essays, Border Crossings: Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (with Jennifer Bean and Laura Horak, forthcoming Indiana UP). Prior to joining the PhD. program in film studies at UC Berkeley, Kapse taught at Gargi College, University of Delhi, India, where she was Assistant Professor of English. She has lectured widely on silent cinema in India and works on film history, gender and the visual culture of “Bollywood.”

About Robin Sukhadia
Bollywood film music fanatic Robin Sukhadia completed his Master of Fine Arts at the California Institute of the Arts. He has been studying the tabla under Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri at CalArts and the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California for the past seven years. His special focus on the musical traditions and rhythms of South Asia informs his approach to musical arrangement and composition on a wide range of concert, film and album productions. For the past 5 years, Robin has traveled internationally on behalf of Project Ahimsa, an organization committed to empowering impoverished youth through music education. In 2008, Robin presented a 3-part talk, Bollywood Sound & Image: A discussion with Robin Sukhadia, at 3rd i’s Speaker Series.

Copresented with: The San Francisco Silent Film Festival: July 10-12, 2009