It has been more than hundred years of Indian Cinema and as an industry which is known for producing as much as 800 films in a year, Indian Cinema has a myriad number of films in its library. Right from Indian Cinema’s first film, Raja Harishchandra which was released in 1913, films in India have observed many trends in techniques over the years. While Indian cinema has observed many blockbusters and super-hits in the films which followed old techniques, there are some filmmakers who were defiant enough to introduce new techniques, and invent their own way of storytelling.
Here’s the list of films which broke the trends and used new techniques in Indian Cinema –
1. First Talkies – Alam Ara  –
Indian Cinema was confined to the boundaries of silent films until Ardeshir Irani realized the importance of sound in cinema, and how it can give a different dimension to this effective mode of communication. Most parts of the film were shot in the night and the microphones were hidden near actors during the shooting, as there were no soundproof stages and technicians were oblivious of the techniques to introduce sound in cinema. Considering dearth of an experienced crew, Alam Ara was an audacious attempt at talkie cinema and thus the most important film in Indian cinema.
2. First use of Artificial Lights – Aparadhi  –
Artificial lights are important elements of cinematography. In layman’s language, by properly juxtaposing artificial lights with the surroundings, a director of photography gives the right texture and shades to frames. 1931 film Apradhi directed by PC Barua marks the first usage of artificial lights in an Indian Film which makes it one of the important films in Indian Cinema.
3. First Flashback – Roop Lekha  –
Flashbacks have always been part of screenplays as they offer backstories of characters. In 1934 film Roop Lekha, PC Barua pioneered the technique of flashback. It’s a little-known fact that V. Shantaram has used an audio flashback in the 1946 film ‘Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahaani’, an effective narrative technique which is rare in films now.
6. First Film with Playback Singing – Dhoop Chhaon  –
Dhoop Chhaon is the first Indian film which introduced playback singing. It was Rai Chand Boral who used the technique of playback singing in order to make songs with better sound quality. Before this film, actors used to sing live on the film sets with microphones hidden around them. Moreover, songs are an integral part of films in Indian cinema and introducing playback singing played an instrumental part.
5. First Dream Sequence – Awaara  –
With the song “Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi”, Raj Kapoor had pioneered the concept of visual dream sequence in Indian Cinema. Dream sequences are now integral part of Indian Cinema as fantasies or nightmares. After Awaara, Guru Dutt had introduced a dream sequence in Pyaasa with the song “Hum Aapki Aankho Me”. Raj Kapoor also created a new trend in Awaara which makes it one of the important films in Indian Cinema.
6. First Indian Neorealistic Film – Do Bigha Zameen  –
This film by Bimal Roy had broken the chain of Bollywood’s ostentatious love stories and had brought the concept of neorealism in India, which was inspired by Italian Neorealism. The story is in the backdrop of post-independence India. What makes Do Bigha Zameen a path-breaking film in Indian Cinema is not only the aspect of Indian Neorealism but the story Bimal Roy had chosen to tell. Moreover, there were no films in India that told a story about the perils of peasants in Rural India or covered a misery of farmers who used to borrow money from rich landlord keeping their mere source of living as the mortgage. The film paved the way for other masterpieces set up in rural India, one of which is Mother India which is also one of the important films in Indian Cinema.
7. Pioneering Technicolor – Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje  –
Janak Janak Payal Baje is a film by legendary filmmaker V. Shantaram. Set up in an artsy background, the film was a musical masterpiece, which told the story of a novice dancer falling in love with her master’s son. However, it’s not the storytelling that was the best part, but the unprecedented use of Technicolor. Technicolor was first used in Mehboob Khan’s 1952 film Aan, but it was V. Shantaram who showcased sheer mastery and pioneered the use of the technique in this film, which makes it an important film in Indian Cinema. He went on to create masterpieces like ‘Do Ankhen Barah Hath’ and ‘Navrang’, which also depicted his competency with the Technicolor art.
8. First Cinemascope Film – Kaagaz Ke Phool  –
Kaagaz Ke Phool was Guru Dutt’s biographical film which happened to be his last directorial venture. It was the first film that used the technique of Cinemascope or often called as ‘Scope’ in film jargon. With this film, Guru Dutt pioneered the technique which is still a subject of cinema. Guru Dutt’s innovative approach and his inventiveness with great competency in executing it make this an important film in Indian Cinema.
9. First 70mm Film – Around the World  –
More often than not, it always happens to be Sholay which is regarded as Indian Cinema’s first film to be screened in 70mm. However, it was Pachhi’s ‘Around the World’ starring Raj Kapoor which was the first film screened in 70mm widescreen. The title also seems to be inspired by Jules Verne’s novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”, however, the film is about an Indian who travels the world in just eight dollars.
10. India’s First 3D Film – My Dear Kuttichathan  –
3D films are always a fascinating watch. It was Malayalam film director Jijo Punnoose who pioneered 3D in India. The film is one of the most important films in Indian cinema as it was an ambitious effort. ‘Chhota Chetan’ was a remake of ‘My Dear Kuttichathan’, which is also an important film in Indian Cinema.
11. First Indian Film in Dolby Digital – 1942 – A Love Story –
Vidhu Vinod Chopra is one of the revolutionary directors in Indian Cinema. With ‘1942 – A Love Story’, he had introduced Dolby Digital Technology. The film is not just about the first use of Dolby sound, but unfortunately also about the last musical offering by the great music director R. D. Burman also known as ‘Pancham Da’. It was also the first Indian Film to get U/A Certificate from C.B.F.C.
The above films are important in the sense they had come up with new techniques of filmmaking or storytelling in Indian Cinema. However, there are also films that were ahead of their times in terms of cultural and social themes. To read about them, head on to list of path-breaking films in Indian Cinema.