Critically discuss the impact of partition on India's popular art, particularly Cinema and Theatre with suitable examples.

Published: November 9, 2017

The key impact of partition on India’s popular art industry (Cinema and Theatre) can be discussed in the light of cross migration of talent and idea of two (antagonistic) countries that emerged from one country.
Cross Migration of Talent
The History of Indian cinema started with Raja Harishchandra in 1913, a silent film in Marathi.  It was produced by Dadasaheb Phalke. The partition immediately affected the Indian film industry by destabilizing two major film centers of undivided India – Bombay (now Mumbai) and Lahore. It had to two way migration of talent between the two newly formed nations. For the film industry, it resulted in loss as well as gain of talent. Legendary film personalities like Noor Jehan, Ghulam Mohammed left for Pakistan, while numerous prominent Indian filmmakers and artists such as Gulzar and Govind Nihalani, B R Chopra and Yash Chopra migrated to India. The migrations also caused a great deal of professional insecurity in the film industries, especially in India for those Muslims who chose to stay back.
Idea of Two antagonistic countries
Due to Partition, Pakistan became foreign country against which idea of political nationalism are constructed and debated on the Indian celluloid screen. Now, India-Pakistan relations became favorite theme for many movies. For example, in Aag (1948), Punjab was decribed as Narak / hell because it was burning due to partition. Similarly, Apna Desh (1972), depicted a story of a woman abducted during the riots. In Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan trains have been depicted packed with refugees and verses with religious fanatics involved in violence. In ‘Mother India’ (1957), several sequences of partition have been shown. A song by Radha, a village girl, asking the villagers to stop and stay back while they were going away in bullock carts actually indicates on-foot migration by poor villagers from one side of the border to another. The loss of losing own land has been shown. The need for unity between Hindus and Muslims was felt so strongly by some filmmakers that Yash Chopra directed a movie named Dharamputra wherein he depicted that both the communities did not have blood difference but mere difference of culture and upbringing. Another movied, Amar Akbar Anthony also tried to depict this, when they showed the separation of a family under a statue of Mahatma Gandhi on 15th August, 1947 and the kids being brought up by different religious communities and then uniting with their Hindu parents.
The impact of partition is also visible in recent Bollywood movies (Ghadar, Pinjar) and Bangla movies and movies from South India.

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