She is on the other side of 70. She stares lovingly at the picture of a young girl. Her daughter, perhaps. Her generously wrinkled face stretches, into a sad smile. She looks on. The creak of a door. The sound of a glass of water being knocked off by the wind. She is shaken from her reverie. She looks at the broken shards of glass on the ground, and sighs. Dusky, young and drowned in misery. Her tears have washed away the Kohl in her eyes. Her face glows from the chulha, on which she roasts her roti. The roti blackens on its sides. And eventually, completely burns up. Charred and destroyed. She watches, indifferently. A tear gently trickles down her eye.
“Parallel”, “Middle-of-the-road”, “Art” are among the names given to this genre of cinema in India. Painted with the minimalist strokes of a rather exclusive ilk of directors, the subtlety and symbolism of such movies seemed to restrict the viewership, at least back in the 1950’s when such movies were often funded by the Indian government. While Satyajit Ray is credited as being the pioneer of Parallel Cinema, Shyam Benegal, Ritwick Ghatak are noteworthy names of directors who followed closely on Ray’s heels.
Shabana Azmi (shown in the picture), Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda became the followers and subsequent stars of the quiet but evolving revolution of Parallel Cinema.