Calcutta Film Society

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Calcutta Film Society
Formation 5 October 1947
Purpose film society
Affiliations Federation of Film Societies of India[2]

Calcutta Film Society was India’s second film society in the city of Kolkata (then Calcutta), West Bengal, India. It was founded in 1947, just after independence, by Satyajit Ray, Chidananda Dasgupta, RP Gupta, Bansi Chandragupta and others. The 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein, The Battleship Potemkin was the first film screened at the film society,[3] which over the years developed the reputation of having the "most cine-literate audiences in the country".[4][5]

Today it is seen as an important harbinger of New Wave cinema in India, as it allowed first hand access to world cinema to local viewers and in time started the film society movement in India.[6]


Although a film society was formed by documentary filmmakers in Bombay in 1942, this was the first film society dedicated to feature films. Satyajit Ray then a young aspiring film maker provided film books and magazines, while Chidananda Dasgupta offer a room in his home for the meetings. And despite tough censorship policies, under the "Indian Cinematograph Act 1918" of the British Raj, which still in enforced censorship rule to all gathering for cinema viewing, they survived low membership during the first five years viewing mainly Russian and European films. The society also started a bulletin designed by Ray, and several of his article were later published in the book, Our Films, Their Films (1972). Noted film personalities were invited to speak at the society which they did on several occasions, including Russian actor, Nikolay Cherkasov, directors Jean Renoir, John Huston. Ray later recounted his meeting with Renoir as an important turning point in shaping his cinematic vision of his first film, Pather Panchali which he explained to Renoir when he was visiting India to look for locations for his film The River, in which Ray assisted Renoir.[7]

In the following years, when the first International Film Festival of India was organized in 1952, the society was extensively consulted for the films to be invited to the festival. The festival according to film historian, Jerzy Toeplitz became a turning point in the history of Indian cinema as it was first time, Indian audience had access to Italian neorealism as well as new Japanese cinema.[8]


  1. ^ Calcutta Film Society
  2. ^ Eastern Region : List of Societies Federation of Film Societies of India website.
  3. ^ Calcutta Film Society Satyajit Ray website.
  4. ^ "The film fan frat". Business Standard. September 4, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The End". The Telegraph. May 25, 2008. 
  6. ^ Armes, Roy (1987). Third World film making and the West. University of California Press. pp. 118, 123. ISBN 0-520-05690-6. 
  7. ^ Robinson, Andrew (1989). Satyajit Ray: the inner eye. University of California Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-520-06946-3. 
  8. ^ Binford, Mira Reym (1983). Media policy as a catalyst to creativity: the role of government in the development of India's new cinema. University of Wisconsin--Madison. p. 72.