Cinema of Prayoga

Child on a Chessboard  

WHATit is…

Cinema of Prayoga is a term coined by film historian and curator Amrit Gangar in 2006 to denote a strain of filmmaking in India lying outside or, rather dodging the tradition art-commerce binary. It is neither a single consolidated film movement bound in time nor a school of filmmaking with a theoretical framework. On the contrary, the Cinema of Prayoga emphasises a “practice” of cinema.

WHO its pioneers were...

Since the Cinema of Prayoga includes films from across Indian film history in its ever-expanding canon, zeroing in on a set of pioneers becomes impossible. Works ranging from the early films of Dadasaheb Phalke, through the numerous short experimental features produced by the Films Division staffers such as SNS Sastry and Pramod Pati, to modern avant-garde filmmakers such as Ashish Avikunthak and Amit Dutta have been included under the label.

How it is characterised…


The Prayoga films are not characterised by a social or political commitment like most films of Parallel Cinema were. In fact, these films implicitly decry the aesthetic complacency and message-oriented moralism of these Parallel films. For the Cinema of Prayoga, anything is a valid theme, even educational topics such as Family Planning.


Like the gamut of themes, there is no single style that could be associated with the Cinema of Prayoga as a whole. In fact, these films resist labelling and are opposed to any form of self-styled exclusivity that curbs creativity. All that binds these works is the spirit of exploration they exhibit towards the medium and this can include the heady editing techniques established by the Films Division filmmakers as well as the abstractions of Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani.

WHY it is important...

The Cinema of Prayoga is not a film movement that has had its day and whose influence could be analysed in retrospect. The inclusiveness with which Gangar and others have built the Prayoga canon makes it clear that it involves a process of rediscovery and restoration that looks into the neglected nooks of Indian film history. With the explosion of the new media, the possibility of making and discovering films of Prayoga seems rich.

WHERE to find it...

Pramod Pati's seven-minute long Explorer (1968) is a remarkably witty and relentlessly inventive film that explores the numerous cultural dichotomies at the heart of a newly-independent nation. Pati illustrates this dizzying polarisation on thematic, stylistic and even material levels, as the medium of film becomes the very embodiment of the ideas the film deals with.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 1:58:19 AM |

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