For most Indians, cinema is part and parcel of their life. It is much more than a distant, three hours distraction, it is a vicarious lifestyle. The silver screen provides an alternative, or helps them to elude from the day-to-day realities. Bollywood has matured in last few decades. If there are two things which people relate to India abroad it is Bollywood and Taj Mahal. In 2013 Hindi cinema will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee.
When Dadasaheb Phalke released his epochal feature film RAJA HARISHCHANDRA in 1913, it is unlikely that either the exhibitors or the pioneer film-makers realized they were unleashing a mass entertainment medium that would hold millions in sway for the next millennium, that they were swaying an industry that in the years to come would overtake the rest of the world in the film production.
Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke born on 30 April 1870 was an Indian producer-director-screenwriter, he is popularly known as the father of Indian cinema..Starting with his debut film, Raja Harishchandra 1913, now known as India’s first full-length feature, he made 95 movies and 26 short films in his career span of 19 years, till 1937, including his most noted works: Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kaliya Mardan (1919).
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime contribution to cinema, was instituted in his honor, by Government of India in 1969, and is the most prestigious and coveted award in Indian Cinema. He died at the age of 74 on 16 February 1944.
Though the first Indian film was “The flowers of Persia” by Hiralal Sen made in the year 1898. “Raja Harischandra” movie is considered as a milestone that marked the beginning of Indian Cinema. Raja Harishchandra is 40 minutes in length and talks about the life of “The King” Harishchandra and his legend of ideal life. Raja Harischandra never backed out from his word and he never lied. To keep up his word Raja Harishchandra donates his kingdom to Vishwamitra, the great Indian sage. To complete the “Dakshina” Raja Harischandra even sells his wife and son. Pleased with his virtues, Raja Harichandra is given back his kingdom by lord and his glory restored.
1. Release Date: 21 April 1913(premiere)
2. Director: Dhundiraj Govind Phalke
3. Writer: Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, Ranchhodbai Udayram
4. Producer: Dhundiraj Govind Phalke
5. Cinematographer: Trymbak B. Telang
Raja Harishchandra Cast Actors
1. Bhalachandra D. Phalke
2. Dattatreya Kshirsagar
3. D.D. Dabke – Raja Harishchandra
4. Ganpat G. Shinde
5. G.V. Sane – Vishwamitra
6. Vishnu Hari Aundhkar
1. Anna Salunke
2. P.G. Sane – Taramati
In the movie even the female characters were played by males. 500 crew members worked for the movie . The film had an all-male cast; no woman was available for playing female leads, so the men played all the roles. The film reel was 3700 feet long.
The film was first shown in public on 3 May 1913 at Mumbai’s Coronation Cinema, Narayan Choyal, Girgaon, where crowds thronged the roads outside the hall, as it marked the beginning of the Indian film industry. The film was so successful that Dada Saheb had to make more prints to show the film in rural areas as well. The film was a grand success and soon established Phalke as a producer and paved the way for the Indian film industry. Dada Saheb’s wife cooked food alone, without any help, for the whole cast and crew, which were more than 500 people. She also washed the clothes and costumes, helped in the posters and production of the film, and co-operated with the cast, satisfying them with food and water.
After the success of movie, stamps were introduced as a token of tribute to the great work of Dadasaheb Phalke.