Italian Influence on Indian Parallel Cinema. Neo Realism Satyajith Ray And Bicycle Thief Effect And Two Parcels of Land – Do Bigha Zameen.

Movies offer an escape from reality. They offer a passage to an alternate universe for from reality. Who really wants to go to a movie and see a whole lot of realism? What the audience cares is for some bang for their buck real Entertainment. I mean Action, Romance, Thrills, Fights Comedy and all those good things far from the reality of the real world. But there is a whole different set of breed out there who only see cinemas utility in portraying the grimness of reality. I am wondering myself how I got to write this article. As a blogger you are in the exploratory mode and I stumbled upon the 10 must see movies of all time and I found the movie Bicycle Thieves in that List. Thanks to Larry Pages Algorithm A.K.A google I discovered Neo Realism and Its influence on Indian Cinema and how it influenced Satyajith Ray the Greatest Indian Director of all time and the winner of a Life time Oscar award. Some how I felt I can share my findings in my blog.

Bicycle Thieves released under the name The Bicycle Thief in the United States is a 1948 film directed by Vittorio De Sica. The film follows the story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.

Adapted for the screen by Cesare Zavattini from a novel by Luigi Bartolini, and starring Lamberto Maggiorani as the desperate father and Enzo Staiola as his plucky young son, Bicycle Thieves is one of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism. It received an Academy Honorary Award in 1950 and, just four years after its release, was deemed the greatest film of all time by Sight & Sound magazine’s poll of filmmakers and critics; fifty years later the same poll ranked it sixth among greatest-ever films.It is also one of the top ten among the British Film Institute’s list of films you should see by the age of 14.

Italian Neorealism also known as The Golden Age of Italian Cinema, is a national film movement characterized by stories set amongst the poor and the working class, filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors. Italian Neorealist films mostly contend with the difficult economic and moral conditions of Italian post-World War II, representing changes in the Italian psyche and conditions of everyday life, including poverty, oppression, injustice and desperation. Its impact nevertheless has been enormous, not only on Italian film but also on French New Wave cinema, the Polish Film School and ultimately on films all over the world. It also influenced film directors of India’s Parallel Cinema movement, including Satyajit Ray (who directed the award-winning Apu Trilogy) and Bimal Roy (who made Do Bigha Zameen (1953)), both heavily influenced by Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.

Parallel Cinema is a film movement in Indian cinema that originated in the state of Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to the mainstream commercial Indian cinema, represented especially by popular Hindi cinema, known today as Bollywood. Inspired by Italian Neorealism, Parallel Cinema began just before the French New Wave and Japanese New Wave, and was precursor to the Indian New Wave of the 1960s. The movement was initially led by Bengali cinema and produced internationally acclaimed filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Tapan Sinha and others. It later gained prominence in other film industries of India. It is known for its serious content, realism and naturalism, with a keen eye on the sociopolitical climate of the times, and for the rejection of the dance-and-song numbers that are typical of mainstream commercial cinema.

I am not trying to be a film historian here but presented some of my findings in the quest for a blog article


A business trip to London in 1950 proved a turning point. Ray and wife travelled to London by ship, a journey that took 16 days. With him, he was carrying a notebook in which he had made some notes on making a film of Pather Panchali. He wanted the film to be shot on actual locations, no make-up with new faces. The reaction to this had been negative from his friends. Shooting on locations with unknown actors was thought be a totally unfeasible idea.

In this six-months long stay abroad, Ray saw about a hundred films including Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.

Bicycle Thieves made a profound impression on Ray. Later, in the introduction of ‘Our Films, Their Films’, he wrote- “All through my stay in London, the lessons of Bicycle Thieves and neo-realist cinema stayed with me”.

The film had reconfirmed his conviction that it was possible to make realistic cinema with an almost entirely amateur cast and shooting at actual locations.

He had completed his treatment of Pather Panchali on the return journey to India by a ship.

Published by


RS is a deep thinker. His hobby is to analyze and reanalyze. Out of a passion to analyze he started this blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>