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India@75

1948: Films Division of India formed

Print edition : Aug 25, 2022 T+T-

1948: Films Division of India formed

Vasant Sathe, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, switching on a camera to mark the inauguration of Eastern Regional Centre of Films Division in Calcutta on January 4, 1982.

Vasant Sathe, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, switching on a camera to mark the inauguration of Eastern Regional Centre of Films Division in Calcutta on January 4, 1982. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

The Films Division was independent and pre-television India’s window on itself.

The Films Division of India was independent and pre-television India’s window on itself. The successor to the Film Advisory Board (1940), Films Division made documentaries, newsreels, shorts and animation films that recorded the steps the fledgling nation was taking.

Also read: 1949: Lata Mangeshkar arrives as the voice of India

Its archives are a treasure trove of the initial decades of independence when there was no other agency recording these. Its short films and newsreels used to be shown at movie halls before the film started playing.

Although Films Division was primarily a propaganda machine, its animated shorts such as Ek Chidiya, Anek Chidiyan were classics. It also produced several extraordinary documentaries such as Mani Kaul’s Siddheshwari and M.F. Husain’s Through the Eyes of a Painter.

Also read: India at 75: Epochal moments from the 1940s

On March 30, 2022, the government announced the merger of India’s four film media units into the National Film Development Corporation. Now, Films Division, Directorate of Film Festivals, National Film Archive of India, and Children’s Film Society of India are all under one umbrella, causing some concerns about quality and invisible censorship.