From the 1960s through the 1980s, art films were usually government-aided and directors of such films received federal or state government grants to make non-commercial films on Indian themes. Their films were showcased at state film festivals and on government-run television networks. The films also had limited runs in art house theatres in India and overseas, portraying Indian realities inspired by foreign influences, like Italian Neo-Realism or French New Wave. Satyajit Ray was the most flourishing maker of such films, like The Apu Trilogy which comprised his most famed films Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959).
Bimal Roy was another such prominent filmmaker. His Do Bigha Zamin (1953) was one of those few productions that encompass both commercial and artistic elements. It went a critical and commercial success. Another filmmaker whose integrated art and commercial cinema was Guru Dutt, whose 1957 film Pyaasa featured in Time magazine's "All-TIME" 100 best movies list. Among the other notable Hindi art films fall Ankur (1974), Shyam Benegals first feature film where esteemed parallel cinema actress Shabana Azmi made her debut. Its plot is based on a true incident that occurred in Hyderabad, apparently in the 1950s. It won 3 National Film Awards and earned nomination for the Golden Bear at the 24th Berlin International Film Festival.
Govind Nihalanis Ardh Satya (1983), based on the short story 'Surya' by S. D. Panvalkar is set in the backdrop of corruption and mafia-invaded contemporary India. The protagonist is a cop, played by veteran Om Puri, struggling with evils around him and with his own evilness. The film also features noted actors Amrish Puri, Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah. Considered one of the best cop dramas, it is a landmark film in Indian Cinemas history. Art films have also been prominent in South India, such as Elippathayam (1981) and Mukhamukham (1984) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, which follow neo-realism.
In the 21st century, art films have been increasingly made, appreciated by cinegoers and lauded at prestigious film festivals, like Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) Dor (2006), Being Cyrus (2006), The Last Lear (2007), Udaan (2009), Dhobi Ghaat (2010), The Lunchbox (2013) and many others.
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