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Father of Indian Cinema: Dadasaheb Phalke

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke who is popularly recognized as Dadasaheb Phalke was an Indian producer-director-screenwriter before India’s independence. He is also known as the Father of Indian Cinema. He made his debut film Raja Harishchandra in 1913 which is now known as India’s first full-length feature film.

During his career span of 19 years, he made 95 movies and 26 short films. His most notable works included Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kaliya Mardan (1919). The Government of India instituted Dadasaheb Phalke Award, for lifetime contribution to cinema in 1969 in his honor. In the year 2001, an honorary award from Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Mumbai was introduced for lifetime achievement in Indian cinema.

Dadasaheb specialized in lithography and oleograph and has also worked for the painter Raja Ravi Varma. Later, he started his own printing press and made his first trip to Germany to learn about latest technology, machinery and art before making films.

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke was born in a Marathi and speaking Brahmin family at Trymbakeshwar in Nashik, Maharashtra. Phalke, decided to bring Indian culture to big screen,and traveled to London to learn filmmaking from Cecil Hepworth. After coming back from London he bought the first film camera with him, and he set up a studio of his own in a borrowed bunglow . His father was an accomplished Sanskrit scholar. Phalke was the one who did his work for the project, he was the one who was responsible for directing , producing, writing the film. He even built the set himself and shot the movie for seven months and 21 days.

Seeing his dedication and curiosity Dadasaheb’s family totally supported and contributed him to make such a legendary film ‘Raja Harishchandra’. His wife was very supportive and she was the one who designed the costumes for the actors and cooked food for the whole cast and crew, while his son was the one who played the role of Harishchandra’s son in the movie.

After the death of  Dadasaheb Phalke , the Goverment of India instituted an award for lifetime contribution to cinema by bollywood personalities, in the memories of Dadasaheb Phalke in 1969. The award is one of the most renowned awards in Indian cinema and well known and respected by personalities in the country. Afterwards Dadasaheb Phalke Academy,Mumbai was introduced in the year 2001.

Phalke was also a good businessman he was the one who formed a film company he started Hindustan Films in partnership with five businessmen from Mumbai. He was the one who build up a model studio and trained technicians and actors very well. Due to some grudges with his patners, in 1920 Phalke resigned from Hindustan Films, he announced his retirement from cinema and he then he wrote Rangbhoomi, a very beautiful play.

By: Bhavna Sharma


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