SINCE 2013 has been marked as the centenary year of Indian cinemas, it has also been broadly accepted as the 100th year of Indian documentary. But that is far from true.
The 100 years, in this case, is measured by the introduction of editing in moving images, determind by the understanding that shift in time and location facilitated by editing are pivotal to the structure of narrative films. But moving images on celluloid came into existence independent o editing technique. Those early moving images, without any cut and pasts, were called “actuality films” and later also as “topicals”_direct recording of real-life happening, which were exhibited as one film, from camera on to camera off. The much-tolked-about French pioneers Lumiere brothers shot and exhibited all over the world Train Arriving at Station, Workers Leaving the Factory, The Wall is being Demolished, and so on.
In 1896, there were theatre, ballets and operas in Paris-but the lumiere brothers shot people performing chores and not actors performing roles. Georges Melies, an illusionist and one of the greatest film-makers of the silentera, who attended one of the Lumiere brothers’ public shows in Paris,noticed that the audience was more engaged with moving foliage or crushing waves or flying dust then the people moving in the frame. The audience had already seen human being and their actions on stage;