The father of Indian Cinema was born on this day 150 years ago in 1870 at Trimbak, Bombay in a Marathi Family.
Dhundiraj Govind Phalke was and is one of the most celebrated personality in Indian history. His contribution to Art & Cinema will forever be remembered. But the start of this magical journey was not that great. Let’s learn something about the man who brought cinema to India.
In 1885 he joined Sir J.J. School of Art where he did a one year course in Drawing. Later on, in 1890 he went to Kala Bhavan at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda where he completed a course in Oil painting and Watercolor painting. He was also good in Architecture which helped him get a gold medal for creating a model of an ideal theatre at the 1892’s Industrial Exhibition in Ahmedabad.
His love for Art developed more and more after every passing year, he even started learning about Photography. Everything is going fine until the plague epidemic in 1900 which took the life of his first wife and a child. After that his photography business also didn’t goes well because people thought that camera sucks up the energy from a person’s body which results in their death. In 1902, he married Girija Karandikar (renamed Saraswati) and moved forward in life.
One fine day, Phalke got to know about moving pictures after watching the 1906 movie, The Life of Christ which inspired him very much. The idea of showing the life of Jesus, influenced him to make films about Indian gods like Rama and Krishna. He sold most of his property to gather capital to make his own film. He goes to London to learn filmmaking and purchase equipments.
On 3rd May, 1913 Phalke saheb completed the first film made in India which was named “Raja Harishchandra“. It took almost 7 months of shooting and editing to complete this film. The film crew was very small so Dadasaheb had to do scripting, production designing, filming, acting and editing all by himself. When the film got released, it was liked by everyone. The Government of India recognises Raja Harishchandra as the first Feature Film of India.
•Due to no female actors available at that time, male actors had to play the roles of women in the film.
• His house was the first production house in India.
• Mandakini, daughter of Phalke was India’s female child artist.
In the process of making films, Phalke saheb lost his eye sight to some extent and even got bankrupt. But all of these, didn’t killed his passion for filmmaking. He went on to produce 95 films and 26 short films in just 19 years, that is really impressive. Even after doing so much for the films, the man didn’t received the honorary award of Bharat Ratna till now. The government took 25 years after his death in 1944 to announce an award on his name. Dadasahab Phalke Award is now considered to be the most valuable award of films in India.
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If I tell you that, there is not a single mainstream Hindi film dedicated to the Father of Indian Cinema, will you believe! No. Writers, Directors, Producers went busy on making illogical money making movies and forgot to make a movie covering Phalke’s life. But there’s a Marathi film named Harishchandrachi Factory which shows the life of Phalke saheb and his struggles in making India’s first film. This film was selected in 2009 as India’s official entry to Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
On celebrating his 150th birth anniversary, you can watch Harishchandrachi Factory which is available on Netflix. And after watching the film, question the filmmakers of the Hindi film industry, that why did they neglected and has not made a film solely dedicated to Dadasaheb Phalke, the Father of Indian Cinema