Colour era in Indian cinema
Kisan Kanya (year 1937) was known as India's first colour film but did not start the color era in Indian Cinema. Kisan Kanya was shot in Cinecolor. Colour era in Indian Cinema (Hindi and Tamil) started in the mid 1950s.
Attempts to shoot the first Indian colour film failed when the negative for Sairhandri, directed by Rajaram Vankudre Shantaram, was ruined during processing in Germany. Prabhat Film Company's "Sairandhri" was the first talkie film produced in Multicolour in 1933. However, its colour quality was not satisfactory and what could be seen was black and white. Kisan Kanya (lit: the peasant girl; 1937/ Dir: Moti B. Gidvani; prod. Ardeshir Irani; screenplay and dialogues: Saadat Hasan Manto) was arguably India’s first colour film to be actually released. It used the Cinecolor process. This story about rural poverty and crime did not go down well with mass audiences, so colour films did not catch the public imagination—till Aan (1953). India was thus the sixth country to have produced a colour film; at most seventh, if firmer dates about the first Soviet colour film indicate otherwise.
Aan, a Dilip Kumar- Nimmi starrer by Mehboob Khan, was the first Indian film, the prints of which were in Technicolor, the most expensive colour format of that era, or ever. It was shot in 16 mm and later blown up to 35 mm. It was a landmark success. Sudhir adds, 'It was shot on 16 mm KodaChrome Reversal negative and then blown-up and printed by Technicolor. Labs, London on 35 mm release print. As a safety measure, it was also shot on regular b&w negative. Mr. Faredoon A. Irani, the cinematographer spent few months in Hollywood, to learn some fine points on colour photography.' (When was Aan released? The Shemaroo print does not have a censor certificate. Wikipedia and Sudhir say: 1952; IbosNetwork.com and several websites say 1951. The Moser Baer print was recertified in 1977, probably after 25 years. Hence 1952 seems to have been the year.) V. Shantaram’s Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955: shot in Geva Color), Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957) and V. Shantaram’s Navrang (1959), all released in 'Color by Technicolor,' too, were the biggest—or among the biggest—hits of their respective years. Only Sohrab Modi’s lavishly produced 'Color by Technicolor' Jhansi Ki Rani (1956) fared badly at the box office. Technicolor’s run of success continued into the 1960s, but not as triumphantly. Gunga Jumna, and Sangam were, again, the biggest hits of their respective years. But Mehboob Khan's 'Son of India' (also 'Color by Technicolor'; Sudhir feels that it most probably was shot in EastmanColor 1962) and Mera Naam Joker tanked. Around the World (1967/ India's first in 70mm) was an average performer, which was bad considering its budget. (Gunga Jumna, Sangam, Around the World and Mera Naam Joker were in Technicolor proper, as opposed to 'Color by Technicolor.' That means that Gunga Jumna was the first Technicolor film in Hindi (and perhaps India). This writer has checked the credit titles of every one of the supposedly Technicolor films mentioned on this page before making this assertion. Veerapandiya Kattabomman (1959) does not claim to be in Technicolor in its English title. The quality of its colours is very uneven—ranging from the weak in the beginning to superb later on.) So, Technicolor was no longer a guarantor of success. Besides, Eastmancolor, which had pleasant colours, though not the well-defined details or dignified hues of Technicolor, had reached India, and was much cheaper than Technicolor. Gunga Jumna was processed by both Technicolor, London, UK and Ramnord Research Lab, India. The censor certificate of Suraj said that the film was in Technicolor; its own credits informed us 'Negative processed by Gemini…Madras.' Saathi too had been processed by Gemini of Madras. There is nothing in the film's credits to indicate the colour film used, though Saathi was supposed to have been in Technicolor and the richness of its colours indicate as much. Mera Naam Joker was processed at Ramnord Research Lab, India. Both Mere Mehboob and Palki were in Eastmancolor, though the general impression is that they were in Technicolor.
The Technicolor process
Technicolor was expensive because the image being photographed had to pass through three strips of black-and-white film. Together these three strips formed a rich colour image. This colour went by the brand name Technicolor. The camera's lens split the light coming from the actors and the background into two beams, one of which went through a green filter and the other through a magenta filter. The topmost strip could receive only blue light and recorded blue images. The green filter obstructed red and blue light; the second strip received this image. The magenta filter kept green light out; the third strip recorded the residual colours. The cyan, magenta and yellow dye images from these three negatives were superimposed on a single strip of film, which resulted in sharp, nuanced Technicolor images. The historical benefit of this complicated and expensive technology is that old Technicolor prints (notably, Mughal e Azam) retain their original colours, while pictures shot on cheaper colour films have faded or lost one shade or even one or more colours. The original colours of Mughal e Azam's two Technicolor sequences remain vastly crisper, more detailed and lustrous than the bulk of the film, which was colourised from black and white in 2004.
Color by Technicolor
Those who appreciate good colour photography often wonder why of all Technicolor films 'Mother India' has the narrowest range of colours, the images do not have the sharp outlines of Technicolor and why the colours look quite jaded. This could possibly be because the negative was in Gevacolor and only the prints in Technicolor. (imdb) Such hybrid printing is known as 'Color by Technicolor' and the credit titles of Mother India' (and Jhanak... and Navrang) accept as much. Incidentally, the credit titles of 'Aan' read 'Print by Technicolor.' The 'Mother India' picture on this page is not at all typical of the quality of colours seen in that film. It is one of the very few scenes in that film that do not have a limited number of shades and colours. The colours of Mother India typically look like the 'Mother India' picture on the page:Indian cinema: 1950-59 (Indpaedia) 'Color by Technicolor' films are those that have used the post-production services of one of many film laboratories scattered across the globe and owned and operated by Technicolor. This laboratory would have developed, printed and transferred the film but no Technicolor format or printing would have been used. (Wikipedia) The Technicolor era in Hindi cinema came to an end with the box-office failure of Mera Naam Joker (1970). However, Raj Kapoor shot Satyam, Shivan, Sundaram (1978) in Eastmancolor and released some prints in Technicolor.
The bilingual Indo-Soviet film Pardesi (1957) (Hindi/ Russian/ dirs: Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Vasili Pronin/ 1957) was in SovColor, though no colour print of the Hindi version is known to survive in India. The T Series DVD is in B&W. The film is called Хождение за три моря in Russian. Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Mariya Smirnova, the film is the true story of the Russian trader Afanasi Nikitin (died 1472), who is the second known European (after Niccolò de' Conti) to have visited India (both the north and the Deccan) and have written about the land, its people and his journey. Russian actor Oleg Aleksandrovich Strizhenov played Afanasi. Its Censor Certificate states ‘Colour, Scope’ and gives the name of its filmmakers as ‘Meera Movies’ and ‘Son[?]a Sansar International.’ However, more excitingly, more than 25 minutes of the film are available in sharp, high quality colour and widescreen in the form of Hindi songs [YouTube]. They have perhaps been taken from the Russian version in which the songs would have been in Hindi. The music is by Anil Biswas. However, since the songs have not been subtitled, perhaps a colour print in Hindi is available somewhere. The naked eye will indicate i) how vastly superior SovColor was to all contemporary colours, except perhaps Technicolor (which had sharp details), and ii) how well the colours of this SovColor film have survived despite the lapse of more than fifty years.
India had been making colour films since the 1930s. Every Technicolor and 'Color by Technicolor' film from Aan to Gunga Jumna (1961), except Jhansi ki Rani, had set new box office records. And yet colour did not catch on in India because only the top Moguls could afford Technicolor and only 'A plus'-budget films could be made in Technicolor. GevaColor changed things somewhat. It was so cheap that it took colour down not to the next lower rung of films, films that were merely 'A budget,' but straight to B and C films in Hindi, and to the top rung of Tamil and Telugu cinema. (Many 'Color by Technicolor' films, e.g. Mother India, were shot in GevaColor.) Sudhir informs us that Kishore Sahu's Mayur Pankh (1954) was the first GevaColor feature film to be released. Before that Pomposh (1954, a promotional film, funded by Film Centre, the importer of GevaColor raw stock) was made in Gevacolor and SHAHENSHAH (1953), was announced as to be shot in Gevacolor, but probably was not.’ (Since the 1990s India's highest paid actor has generally been Rajinikanth, the Tamil superstar. The budgets of the top Tamil films sometimes exceed those of the top Hindi film of that year. On some counts the Telugu film industry is huge. Since the mid-1980s technical firsts—notably 3D—have come from the South, in this case from Kerala. However, till at least the early 1970s the budgets of Hindi films were vastly bigger. (The MGR-starrer Alibabhavum Narpathu Thirudargalum (1955), the first Tamil (and first south Indian) colour film, was entirely in Gevacolor, while Nadodi Mannan (Tamil/ 1958) had some Gevacolor inserts. Lavakusa (1963), the first Telugu colour film, and an NTR-starrer, too, was in Gevacolor.) Sudhir writes, ' Hatim Tai (1956) in GevaColor (produced by Wadia Brothers) was a very big hit.' The film was, what in those days was called, a 'fantasy film.' Such films did not have A-list star casts and were the equivalent of today's B or C films. Hattim Tai did have a certain following and made a profit considering its low budget, but it does not figure in IbosNetwork.com's list of the top 11 hits of the year. It starred Jairaj and Shakila, neither a prominent actor. Pyar Ki Pyas (1961), a B-budget family weepie and a flop, was in GevaColor and CinemaScope. Even in 1961 relatively few people were aware that such a film had been released. The next GevaColor film in Hindi, Sampoorna Ramayan (1961), too, had a B-cast and a B-director, Babubhai Mistri. However, it was a hit because it encapsulated the most popular Hindu epic, The Ramayan, into 183 minutes, had lavish sets, special effects considered good at the time and some hit songs. True to the traditions of Old India, it was produced by a Parsi, Homi Wadia. By then Eastmancolor had arrived. It was more expensive than GevaColor, more suitable for A list films than GevaColor and much cheaper than Technicolor. Sudhir adds, "Sachaa Jhutha (1970) was the last film that was shot and printed in GevaColor. The LP records were released by Polydor, which like Film Centre, the licensee of GevaColor products in India, was owned Mr. Ambalal Jhaverbhai Patel."
Internationally Eastman Kodak launched Eastmancolor, a colour print film that recorded colours better than any of its lower-priced competitors,in 1952. Apart from costs and quality, Eastmancolor offered convenience. Technicolor films had to be sent to Technicolor's own laboratories for the dye imbibition process. Eastmancolor let studios make prints using normal photographic processes. In India Hum Hindustani (1960/ by S. Mukerji for his own Filmalaya), an A film was entirely in Eastmancolor. It was an 'above average' success (Boxofficeindia). This began the democratisation of good quality colour in Hindi cinema. Hum Hindustani (1961), Sudhir points out, was the first Indian film in Eastmancolor, a colour technology that was less complex and, therefore, less expensive than Technicolor. On the other hand, Eastmancolor was vastly more satisfying (Hum Hindustani's titles described Eastmancolor as 'glorious') than the even cheaper Gevacolor and Orwocolor. (Fujicolor was the choppy and downmarket colour negative of the 1970s and early '80s. It was Souten  that introduced India to the lavish, new Fujicolor, though Yeh Nazdeekiyan (1982), the year before, too, had indicated that Fujicolor had changed.) Junglee (1961) was the first superhit in Eastmancolor, and jolted the nation's attention towards this mid-priced but fairly high quality new colour film. Professor and Taj Mahal (both 1963) followed.
An American university website declares that Mahâbhârat (1965/ prod. AA Nadiadwala, dir: Babubhai Mistry) was in Technicolor. You know how seriously everyone (including us) takes American university documentation—indeed, several others have cited this one. However, the film’s own credits, in the almost mint Shemaroo print on YouTube, clearly read ‘Eastmancolor.’ While trying to ascertain whether Mahâbhârat (1965) was in Technicolor or Eastman, this writer was pleasantly surprised to free the freshness of the colours of the opening sequences (see picture).
Dev Anand impressed a whole generation of cinegoers by using the offbeat Pathecolour in his Guide (1966). Cinegoers found subtle hues in Pathécolour that they felt were superior to the louder Eastmancolor. Pathécolour never resurfaced after that in Filmistan, except in Dev Anand-fan (and lieutenant) Amit Khanna’s Man Pasand (1980). However, those who decided to research what Pathecolour really was were disappointed to learn that in the context of these two films it was merely a posh, French-sounding brand name for Eastman Kodak's Eastmancolor colour negative film. It was a shattering moment for Indian cinephiles, on a par with Woody Allen’s discovery that the elbow patch on his venerable NYU professor’s tweed coat was not made of real leather. (To top it all, Mr Anand claimed (and this was repeated in the film’s censor certificate) that the film was in ‘widescreen.’ Therefore, Indian cinegoers assumed that the film was either in CinemaScope or in 70mm. It was in neither. ‘Widescreen’ merely meant that Guide was in normal 35mm, but had a width-to-height aspect ratio greater than the normal 1.37:1, and that this ratio was achieved through ‘masking.’ The impact of Indian fans was like Mr. Allen being devastated by the knowledge that even the tweed of his professor’s jacket was fake. Allen would certainly have sought professional psychiatric help to deal with such a profound double blow.) 'Songs and dances in colour' vs. 'Tamaam rangeen' In the 1950s,1960s and early 1970s many black and white films—including respected films by Satyajit Ray. K. Asif and Mrinal Sen of India, and A Tarkovsky of the USSR—had a few reels in colour. If such a film was Indian or Pakistani and of the commercial kind its posters would read 'Songs and dances in colour.' If an Indian/ Pakistani film were 'entirely in colour' its local-level posters would, till even the late 1970s, mention this, even though by then B&W films had been gone for years. In North India the reassurance would read 'Tamaam rangeen' (entirely in colour).
Partly in color (color inserts)
Moguls like Mehboob Khan, V. Shantaram and Sohrab Modi (who made films with prints in Technicolor) and producers of the next rung like Subodh Mukherji (Junglee/ 1961), FC Mehra (Professor/ 1962) and Shakti Samanta (Kashmir ki Kali/ 1964), all of who used Eastmancolor, had set a bold example. Almost all their colour films were enormously successful. And yet even top budget films continued to be made in B&W till the mid-1960s. It is known that producer K. Asif made Mughal e Azam mostly in B&W because he could not afford a greater number of colour sequences. In the early 1960s the economics of colour films do not seem to have been very attractive, even though very few colour films had flopped. (The only colour flops were Jhansi ki Rani and Leader—both commercial; and Kisan Kanya, Pardesi (1957), Pyar ki Pyas and Son of India—all arthouse.) Obviously because of high costs two of the Big Three stars, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, had their first entirely-in-colour films released as late as in 1964 and 1966 respectively. (In most of the 1960s Rajendra Kumar was arguably no.4 and Shammi Kapoor perhaps no.5, though by 1966 or so Rajendra ‘Jubilee’ Kumar was reportedly the highest paid star and remained so for a few years.) Interestingly, even as Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand were soldiering on with B&W, not just Rajendra Kumar and Shammi Kapoor, but other A-list actors further down the pecking order had starred in major Eastmancolour films. Notable were Joy Mukherjee (also Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon/ 1963, Ziddi/1964), Biswajit (Shehnai/ 1964; Mere Sanam/ 1965) and Sunil Dutt (Khandan/1965, in addition to the multi-starrer Mother India). Mahipal (Navrang/ 1959), Pradeep Kumar (Taj Mahal) and debutant Jeetendra (Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne/ 1964) do not count because in their case the opulence of the film, and not their presence, justified the colour. A few reels in colour was, thus, the compromise. These normally were reels with songs, dances and/ or spectacle. Even the Dev Anand-starrer Teen Devian (1965) included only some colour sequences. Pakistan’s superstar Waheed Murad’s Eid Mubarak (1965) was Pakistan's first film with a few colour scenes, even though (East) Pakistan had made an entirely-in-colour film the year before. (The same had happened in India: the ‘partly in colour’ trend came after films had been made entirely in colour.) Nasir Hussain, a major producer-director, was one of the first to use colour. Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963) was India’s fifth Eastmancolor film, and a hit. Teesri Manzil (1966), another success, followed in Eastmancolor. And yet as late as in 1967 he made Baharon Ke Sapne in B&W (with two sequences in colour) because it was a serious film about educated unemployed youths, and hence not likely to attract mass audiences. In India the ‘partly in colour’ trend goes back at least as far back as Nagin (1954), an superhit B&W fantasy film with a few reels in Gevacolor. Nadodi Mannan (Tamil/ 1958), also a costume drama and fantasy film, included a colour sequence. Mughal e Azam (1960), the biggest-budget film of its time, had to include colour for the same reason: it was a historical spectacular and costume drama with ornate sets encrusted with faux gems. Thus the ‘fantasy’ element was almost important as costs when it came to shooting a film in colour. It is notable that four of the first five Technicolor films in Hindi; the first Technicolor film in Tamil and the first colour film in Telugu were all period films and costume dramas. By the early 1960s the correlation between the budget of the film and colour weakened further. Bombay Ka Chor (1962) was a B&W, B-plus film. However, because audiences wanted colour its producers gratuitously included a colour sequence, quite unrelated to the film’s plot, called ‘Holiday on Ice.’ Such an unrelated insert would be billed as an "added attraction." Hawa Mahal (1962), a C-budget fantasy, was partly in colour. When maestro Satyajit Ray made Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969/ Bengali), a fantasy film, he included some colour sequences. Left-leaning Mrinal Sen's Padatik (1973/ B&W/ Bengali) had one colour sequence about glitzy consmerism followed by and contrasted with shots of monochrome poverty.
Black and white films gradually lose out to color
The megastar of the 1950s and the early ’60s, Dilip Kumar, did not act in a black and white film after 1961; the highest paid star of the mid-1960s, Rajendra Kumar, followed suit. Increasingly the hits were all in colour and B&W films were seen as dull. Dosti (1964), a low budget weepie that touched the nation’s hearts, Haqeeqat (1964) and Shaheed (1965), both being patriotic films that stirred patriotic youths, were arguably the last Hindi commercial successes in B&W. Dosti was a superhit.
Films delayed in the making
By the late 1960s the only black and white films featuring major actors were serious films meant for arthouses (e.g. the Raj Kapoor starrer Teesri Qasam (1967) and the Nargis-starrer Raat Aur Din/ 1967) or those that had got delayed in the making. Shammi Kapoor was the actor associated with the success of Eastmancolor in India, and the star of the second, third and sixth Eastmancolor films, but even he had an A-category commercial black and white film Budtameez as late as in 1966. If the film received attention at all it was because of some great songs (Haseen ho tum, and Ooh lal la). The Dev Anand starrer Kahin Aur Chal (1968) was perhaps the last A-list commercial Hindi film in black and white. Even serious Dev Anand fans have not heard of Kahin Aur Chal.
The last commercial B&W films
Saraswatichandra (also 1968: famous for its songs), claimed on Wikipedia as the last B&W film in Hindi, was a relatively low budget film and a literary, almost arthouse film. (See ‘Internet bloopers’ in this article.) Like Teesri Qasam and Raat aur Din before it, it took the better part of a year for Saraswatichandra to get a theatrical release after its completion—partly because all three films were unrelentingly serious and partly because they were in B&W. Distributors were reluctant to pick up such films, because they were certain to flop. Commercial 'Bollywood movies,' albeit B-budget ones, continued to be made in B&W well after Saraswatichandra, which was not an A-budget film either. Bandish (1969: famous for Rafi’s classic song Abhi to raat baaqi hai), Simla Road (1969) and Priya (1970: starring Tanuja, famous songs: ‘She’s very pretty’ and ‘Garry Joe/ Gaye ja’) were all commercial entertainers, but in B&W.
B&W continues in arthouse films till the early 1970s
In the world of art films black and white continued into the early 1970s. Even Dastak (1970), the last B&W film in Hindi to make some money (by the micro-budget standards of art films), was not the last 'Bollywood movie' to be made in black and white, either. Art films like Sara Akash (1969), Uski Roti (1970), Khamoshi (1970: with an all-star cast from the world of commercial cinema—Dharmendra, Waheeda Rehman and Rajesh Khanna), Ashad Ka Ek Din (1971) and Ek Adhuri Kahani (1972) continued to be made in B&W well into the 1970s. The great Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen were making B&W films in Bengali till the mid-1970s. Art films have been in colour since at least Satyajit Ray’s Kanchanjangha (1962/ Bengali/ Eastmancolor), but then India’s greatest maestro had the world as his market. However, even he did not get back to an entirely-in-colour film for another 11 years, till 1973 (Ashani Sanket), after which he never went back to black and white. (Kanchanjangha is the spelling used on the cover of the DVD, but Kanchanjungha is the subtitle when the film's name, which is given only in Bengali, appears in the film itself.) In Hindi cinema, too, art films had been made in colour since Chetna (1970). However, it was Blaze films’ Eastmancolor Ankur (The Seedling) (1974), lavishly produced by the standards of Indian art cinema, that announced that art films need not be micro-budget. After that no Hindi film, not even an art film, was made in black and white.
Colour films and success at the box office (1951-1970)
1951 was the year when India’s first commercially successful colour film was released. 1966 was the last year in the history of Hindi cinema when there was a B&W film among the 20 highest grossing Hindi films of the year. Given below are the names of colour and ‘partly in colour’ films made between 1951 and 1964 and their performance at the box office relative to other Hindi films released that year. For 1965 and 1966 it is the names of B&W films that made it to the Top 20 that have been mentioned. The number shown after the name of each film denotes its rank in terms of box office success among the films released that year. Figures and ranks for the 1950s have been taken fromIbos and for the 1960s from Boxofficeindia. The box office rank of colour films (1951-1964) 1952 Aan 1 (the no. 1 hit of the year).
- Jhansi Ki Rani was a flop. (Most histories list it among films released in 1952  .
- 1953 No colour film released
- 1954 Nagin (partly in colour)No. 1
- 1955 Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje No.5
- 1956 No colour film in Top 20.
- Sudhir writes, ' Durgesh Nandini (1956) (produced by S. Mukerji for Filmistan) was a flop.’
- 1957 Mother India: no. 1
- Sudhir writes,’ Champakali (1957) (Produced again by S. Mukerji for Filmistan) was probably a flop.’ (It was certainly not among the top earners.)
- 1958 Zimbo (1958) was, Sudhir writes, in GevaColor (produced by Wadia Brothers). It was another B or C film and successful for its low budget but was not among the Top 20. The VCD, released by Shemaroo is in B&W. The faintly coloured picture on this page is from the Bombino VCD.
- 1959 Navrang No. 4
- 1960 Mughal E Azam No.1 (partly in colour), Chaudvin Ka Chand No.4 (partly in colour), Hum Hindustani No.12 (entirely in colour)
- 1961 Ganga Jumna No.1, Junglee No.2
Mr Sudhir adds, ‘ Zabak (1961) in GevaColor (produced by Wadia Brothers) was a big hit and certainly a bigger grosser than Sampooran Ramayan.’ I am afraid it was not so. IbosNetwork.com’s list ranks Sampooran Ramayan as the 8th biggest hit of 1961. On the other hand, Zabak does not figure either among IbosNetwork.com’s Top 20 nor BoxOfficeIndia.com’s Top 18 Hindi hits of 1961.
- 1962 Professor No.2 (ibos)/ 3 (boi)(Bees Saal Baad, B&W, was no.1)
- 1963 Mere Mehboob 1, Taj Mahal 2, Phir Bhi Wohi Dil Laya Hoon 3, Shikari 7 (a ‘B film’ did better than a major ‘A film’ like Mujhe Jeene Do mainly because it was in colour), Parasmani 17 (also a B or C film)
- 1964 Sangam 1, Ayee Milan Ki Bela 2, (Dosti, B&W, was no. 3), Ziddi 4, Rajkumar 5, Kashmir Ki Kali 6 (Haqeeqat 7, Zindagi 8, both B&W). April Fool 9. By 1964 colour had become commonplace, so colour films started doing badly, too: Leader was at no. 11 (below average earnings), Jahan Ara 16 (flop), Chitralekha 17 (flop: not only did it have colour but cheesecake, too, but audiences found it too serious).
The box office rank of B&W films (1965-1970)
- 1965 By 1965 the top 10 films were all in colour. And yet the B&W Shaheed was at 11 and the B&W Johar Mehmood in Goa at 13.
- 1966 Aasra 11 (B&W) was a ‘semi-hit,’ arguably the last commercial Hindi film to make a profit at the box office.
- 1967 No B&W film in the Top 20.
- 1968 No B&W film made it to the Top 20.
- 1969 No B&W film made it to the Top 20.
- 1970 No B&W film made it to the Top 20.
The relationship between a film being in colour and its success at the box office, it will be seen, is very strong, but not one hundred per cent. Well-made B&W films have, in a few cases, done better than colour films that were not equally good. And yet such films have been few and far between. It is possible that colour films that did well were interesting films anyway. However, the correlation between colour and box office success in the initial years is so close to around 90 per cent that it would be too much of coincidence if colour films were also the best-made ones. This is seen from the fact that in the beginning colour was a bigger guarantor of success than after colour became commonplace. this is also seen from the fact that after 1966, when B&W films continued to be made in substantial numbers, no B&W film in Hindi was in the Top 20. Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960) proves both points: a good film will do well anyway, even if not in colour, but colour improves whatever prospects it had anyway. It was initially released entirely in B&W and was a hit. Prints released later had two colour sequences (The Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema). Colour certainly enhanced the film’s appeal and prolonged its box office success, but the film would have done well anyway. [In the DVD of the film released by Yash Raj, only the title song is in colour. In the Eros DVD the title song as well as the mujra song "Kabhi Raaz e Muhabbat" are in colour. A B&W version of even the title song is available on YouTube.) V. Shantaram’s color by Technicolor blockbusters Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Navrang also prove both points. Had either film been in B&W, mass audiences would never have paid money to see a film without stars, without commercial entertainment and about something as serious as classical music and dance. They were clearly there for the colour and spectavle, but neither film let them down in terms of story either. Shikari was a ‘B film’ or even a ‘C film’ but it did better than a major ‘A film’ like Mujhe Jeene Do mainly because it was in colour. Similarly, Parasmani, also a B or C film, entered the Top 20 partly because of hit music (it was music director-duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s debut film) and partly because of its few colour scenes.
Bhaktha Chetha (1940), Mangamma Sabatham (1943), Haridas (1944), Salivaahanan (1945), Naam Iruvar (1947) and Vedhala Ulagam (1948) had some color sequence coloured by Hand-tinting process. Hand-tinting process did not give its natural colour. Haridas was re-released in year 1946 with a full length colour copy coloured by Hand-tinting process. Then Hindi color movies in the early 1950s was dubbed into Tamil. The full length Tamil color film was Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum. This movie was also the first full length color movie in South India. Thangamalai Ragasiyam was partly coloured. Nadodi Mannan (1958) was partially in Geva Color. Veerapandiya Kattabomman was the first Tamil film to be shot in Technicolor but it was not fully shot in Technicolor. The song clips for the song "Inbam Pongum Vennila" and "Anjatha Singam En Kaalai" was shot in Technicolor while the song clips for the song "Singgara Kanne" was shot in Geva Color. The song clip of "Pogathey Pogathey En Kanava" was shot in both Technicolor and Geva Color. Parma Pidha, an unreleased film in 1961 was announced to be in Eastman color.
Kanavane Kankanda Deivam (1955) was South India's first Geva Colour film. Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum was the first full length Geva Color film in South India. Geva Color was a cheaper color among the others and did not producd a good color image. There were big difference between the color produced by Geva Color and the other colors. Geva Color improved its color from year to year. It was mostly into purple-pink tone of color. Geva Color changed some of the colors into other colors such as true red into deep rose and dark green to light green. Later in 1958, Nadodi Mannan was partly coloured in Geva Color. The following year, Veerapandiya Kattabomman was a full length color film but partly coloured in Geva Color. In year 1961, Sri Valli was entirely taken in Geva Color and in 1963, Lava Kusha was the last Tamil film to be entirely shot in Geva Color.
List of Tamil films taken in Geva Color
|Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam||Partly in Color||1955||First Tamil film to have true-colour sequence and second film that has colour sequence in South India.|
|Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum||Color||1956||First full length Tamil colour film|
|Marma Veeran||Partly in Color||Certain scenes shot in colour.|
|Thangamalai Ragasiyam||1957||Sequence of the song Ehalogame in colour|
|Ambikapathy||Sequence of duet songs in colour|
|Nadodi Mannan||1958||Second half in colour|
|Illarame Nallaram||Dance sequence by Saroja Devi and Kumari Kamala in colour.|
|Deiva Balam||Some sequence in colour|
|Veerapandiya Kattabomman||Partly in Geva Color||1959||Shot entirely in Gevacolor then converted to Technicolor. Due to financial problem, the film was not converted entirely in Technicolor. Some scenes remained in Gevacolor. The colour of this film was uneven.|
|Athisaya Penn||Some songs in the film was shot in Geva Color while the rest of the film was shot in black and white. The climax of this film was shot in Technicolor for 45 minutes.|
|Adutha Veetu Penn||Partly in Color||1960||The song Enakkaga Nee Raja was shot in color.|
|Kuzhandhaigal Kanda Kudiyarasu||Some parts of the film appeared in colour.|
|Sri Valli||Color||1961||Although shot entirely in colour, the film was not commercially success because of a draggy storyline|
|Kappalottiya Thamizhan||Partly in Color||quarter of the ending of the film shot in colour.|
|Lava Kusha||Color||1963||Last Tamil film to be shot in Gevacolor. Tamil colour films after year 1963 was shot in Eastmancolour.|
There were only two films that was shot in Technicolor in Tamil Cinema. Veerapandiya Kattabomman (1959) was partly shot in Technicolor while the other scenes were shot in Geva Color. Konjum Salangai (1962) was Tamil Cinema's one and only full-length movie shot entirely in Technicolor. Technicolor lost its market in Tamil Cinema due to the price (which was expensive) and the entry of Eastman Color into Tamil Cinema.
Eastmancolor became popular in Tamil Cinema because of its price (cheaper than Technicolor) and the quality of its color. Raja Malaiya Simman had its climax scene in Eastmancolour and known to be India's first Eastmancolour film. This film was simultaneously shot in Tamil and Telugu. Parma Pidha (1961) was Tamil cinema's first full length Eastman Color film but it was unreleased. Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964) was Tamil Cinema's first Eastmancolor film to be released. After the entry of Eastmancolor in Tamil Cinema, many color films were released in a year. In 1964, there were 4 color films released and all of them were coloured by Eastmancolor. The era of Geva Color had ended in Tamil Cinema in year 1964. Telugu cinema and Kannada Cinema also started their Eastmancolor Era in year 1964. Eastmancolor survived more than 30 years in Tamil Cinema. After the entry of Eastmancolor, the dual role era in Tamil Cinema begined and lasted for 10 years.
Partial List of Tamil Films taken in Eastmancolour
- Rajamalaya Simman (1959) (Partly coloured)
- Naaga Nandhini (1961) (Partly coloured)
- Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964)
- Karnan (1964)
- Pudhiya Paravai (1964)
- Padagotti (1964)
- Thiruvilaiyadal (1965)
- Enga Veetu Pillai (1965)
- Idhayak Kamalam (1965)
- Vennira Aadai (1965)
- Aayirathil Oruvan (1965)
- Anbe Vaa (1966)
- Saraswathi Sabatham (1966)
- Parakkum Paavai (1966)
- Adhey Kangal (1967)
- Bhakta Prahlada (1967)
- Kandhan Karunai (1967)
- Naan (1967)
- Ooty Varai Uravu (1967)
- Pattanathil Bhootham (1967)
- Thiruvarutchelvar (1967)
- Kudiyiruntha Kovil (1968)
- Ragasiya Police 115 (1968)
- Thillana Mohanambal (1968)
- Thirumal Perumai (1968)
- Adimaippen (1969)
- Nam Naadu (1969)
- Shanti Nilayam (1969)
- Sivandha Mann (1969)
- Thanga Surangam (1969)
- Thunaivan (1969) (Partly Coloured)
- En Annan (1970)
- En Magan (1970)
- Engal Thangam (1970)
- Engirundho Vandhaal (1970)
- Maattukkaara Velan (1970)
- Sorgam (1970)
- Thedi Vandha Mappillai (1970)
- Thirumalai Thenkumari (1970)
- Vilaiyattu Pillai (1970)
Partly coloured films
Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam was Tamil Cinema's first partially coloured film. Madurai Veeran (1956 film), Thangamalai Ragasiyam (1957 film), Ambikapathy, Illarame Nallaram (1958 film), Nadodi Mannan, Adutha Veetu Penn (1960 film) and Kappalottiya Thamizhan (1961 film) was partly coloured in Geva Color while Naaga Nandhini (1961 film) and Veera Abhimanyu (1965 film) was partly coloured by Eastman Color. In year 1969, Thunaivan was partly coloured by Eastmancolour. In year 1975, Andharangam was a full length black and white film but had two song clips coloured by Geva Color. This film was known to be the last Tamil film to be partly coloured.
End of black and white era
After year 1975, black and white films were decrease. Avargal (1977) was among the black and white Tamil films that was a successful film. Tamil Cinema rarely produced black and white films in the 1980s. Sandhya Ragam (1989) was Tamil Cinema's last full length black and white Tamil film. Although in black and white, this film won the 37th National Film Awards and it won the Award for Best Film on Family Welfare (1990). Iruvar (1997) had some sequence in black and white and it was meant to be in black and white. Mugham (year 1999) had some black and white sequence and turned up to be a box office failure.
Telugu cinema was previously releasing color films which were dubbed into Telugu from Hindi and Tamil. Raja Malaya Simha (1959) had its climax scene in Eastmancolor. Aaraadhana (1962) had some colour sequence because the cencor certificate states that it is Partly Coloured. Lava Kusha (1963) was Telugu cinema's first full length color movie shot in Geva Color. The following year, Amara Shilpi Jakkanna, a 1964 Telugu was Telugu cinema's first full length Eastmancolour film.
Daiva Balam (1958) was Telugu Cinema's first featured film to have a sequence in Geva Color. Then, in year 1962, Aradhana was released with the song sequence "Oho Mavayya" in Gevacolor. Lava Kusha was a length Telugu film to be shot in Geva Color. Previously, there were some Hindi films such like Zimbo (coloured by Geva Color) were dubbed in Telugu. Tamil films that were shot in Geva Color such like Shree Valli (Sri Valli Kalyanam), and Veerapandiya Kattabomman (Veerapandiya Kattabrahmana), Nadodi Mannan (Anaganaga Oka Raju) were dubbed in Telugu.
Raja Malaya Simha (year 1959) was Telugu cinema's first partly coloured film to be shot in Eastman Color. Later in 1963, Bandipotu had its climax scene in Eastmancolor. Amara Shilpi Jakkanna (year 1964) was Telugu cinema's first full length Eastmancolour film. This film was simultaneously in Telugu and Kannada Language with the title Amarashilpi Jakanachaari. Tene Manasulu (year 1965) was Telugu cinema's first social color film. In the late 1960s and 1970s, films such as Ave Kallu, Bhakta Prahlada, Rahasyam, Kalyana Mandapam, Krishnaveni, Prem Nagar, Sampoorna Raamaayanam, Sri Krishna Satya, Manchi Rojulu Vachayi, Andala Ramudu, Bhakta Tukaram and other color movies was shot in Eastmancolor. Eastmancolour didn't get its market as in Tamil Cinema till the early 1970s. Eastmancolor became successful in Telugu cinema after the 70's. There were no Telugu films shot in Technicolor. Technicolor films from Tamil Cinema such as Veerapandiya Kattabomman (Telugu: Veerapandya Kattabrahmana) and Konjum Salangai (Telugu: Muripinche Muvvalu) were dubbed into Telugu. Films like Bharya Biddalu, Dasara Bullodu were shot entirely in Eastmancolor.
Partly coloured films
Raja Malaya Simha had its climax scene in Eastmancolor. This film is known to be India's first Eastmancolor film. Aaradhana (1962) had a song titled Ohoho Mavayya which was shot in Geva Color but the colour version of that song is not available in the Internet. Bandipotu (1963) was partly coloured film by Eastmancolor. Telugu cinema did not produce many full length color films in the late 60's but produced films which were partly coloured like Letha Manasulu, Mooga Nomu, Dharma Daata, Veera Abhimanyu, Gudachari 116, Amayakuralu, Raithu Kutumbam, Sri Krishna Vijayam, Sisindri Chittibabu, Pavitra Hrudhayalu, Manasu Mangalyam, Ammma Kosam, Poola Rangadu etc. Bandipotu Dongalu had a color sequence in a song video but have not written as partly coloured in the Central Board of Film Cencors certificate. The song Yadanu Dhachina Mounaveena was partly shot in black and white and Eastman Color in the film Bandipotu Dongalu. Gorinthaku (1979) was partly in black and white at the first 15 minutes of the film, showing the flashback.
Stree Ratna (1953) had some color sequences. Besides that, Rathnagiri Rahasya had some song sequences in Gevacolor. Amarashilpi Jakanachaari was the first full length Kannada colour film to be released. It was shot in Eastman Color. Kannada Cinema then produced many color films. Devara Gedda Manava (year 1967) was Kannada Cinema's first Geva Colored film.
Eastman Color was introduced to Kannada Cinema through Kannada Cinema's first full length color film Amarashilpi Jakanachari in year 1964. In the 1970s, films such like Bangarada Manushya, Eradu Kanasu, Shree Krishna Devaraaya, Sampathige Savaal etc. was shot in Eastmancolour.
Kandam Becha Kottu was Malayalam Cinema's first full length color film. This film was shot in Eastman Color and released in year 1961. At the same year, Sabarimala Ayyappan was released and coloured by Geva Color. Films like Chemmeen was shot entirely in Eastman Color. It produced a good quality of colour.
Chemmeen (1965), Karakanakkadal (1971), Panitheeratha Veedu (1972), Nakhangal (1973), Chattakkari, and Nellu (1974) were shot by Eastman Color. Malayalam Cinema started to release many colour movies after year 1975.
Partly Coloured film
- IndpaediaIndia's first colour film
- India's first color film, Indpaedia
- "Cine Quiz". The Hindu. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2011.