Dada Saheb Phalke is called the ‘Father of Indian cinema’. Because of these, the Bollywood industry is today. The Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the biggest award in the world of cinema, is given in his name. Dadasaheb has struggled a lot in making this cinema world.
Phalke was born on 30 April 1870, at trambkeshwar located near Nashik in Maharashtra. Dadasaheb Phalke’s full name was Dhundiraj Govind Phalke. When he was 15 years old, his father was appointed a teacher at Wilson College in Bombay. As a child, Phalke was inclined towards art, so he also took admission to the ‘JJ School of Arts’ there. From there he did a drawing course. After that, he received education in various arts at the famous ‘Kala Bhawan’ of Vadodara. In which photography, building construction, painting, etc. were included. In Vadodara itself, Phalke also learned magic, which later became very useful for him.
Growing up, Phalke started the business of photography to make a living. He also worked in some drama companies with photography as his main occupation. In 1903, Phalke got a job as a photographer and cartographer in the Archaeological Department of the government. The job was very nice and comfortable. But he had to leave his job due to the Swadeshi movement. After leaving the job, if he did not get success anywhere else, then his mind started getting disturbed. At that time he was 40 years old. To calm his mind, he thought of watching the film.
The Lumiere brothers of France started ‘silent films’. The people of India saw these films for the first time on 7 July 1896 in Bombay. That was the time of 1910. Phalke went to the cinema hall in Bombay to watch a film called ‘Life of Christ‘ at America India Cinema. After watching this film, the restlessness inside him increased. He thought that we can not make such films. After that he thought of making the film himself. He had some goods, by selling which he collected some money. He read many books and watched movies. For about 1 year, he was engaged in getting the film making machine, price, and other information.
In order to get the right information regarding film making, he decided to go to London. Phalke took a loan of Rs 10,000 by pledging his life insurance policy. By arranging money he went to London on 1 february , 1912. In London, Phalke met Caborne, the editor of the weekly magazine ‘Biscope‘. Caborne, seeing Phalke’s technical knowledge and enthusiasm, agreed to assist him. First, Caborne discussed various aspects of filmmaking with Phalke for eight days, then he bought Phalke a Williamson camera. It was the best camera of film making in that era. Caborne then introduced Phalke to ‘Cecil Hepworth’, a filmmaker. That producer gave Phalke a lot of information related to filmmaking.
When the journey started
Phalke returned to Mumbai on 1 April 1912 with the dream of making a film. After coming to Mumbai, Phalke first made a film on his family members. Taking it, he went to a gentleman for the purpose of debt. That gentleman gave the loan, but for that, Phalke had to mortgage his wife’s jewellery. Money was arranged but the problem was more. Phalke wanted to make the first film ‘Raja Harishchandra‘. He himself used to play the role of hero but no heroine was available for the role of Taramati. He also advertised in many newspapers but to no avail.
One day while he was having dinner in a restaurant, he saw a boy working there who was as delicate as a girl. Phalke spoke to him. At first he did not agree, but when Phalke asked him to pay Rs 5 more than his salary, he agreed. The work of making the film started but due to fewer people, Phalke himself had to look after the responsibility of almost every department. He completed this film within 6 months, facing all the difficulties. The length of the film was 3,700 feet. Thus India’s first feature film Raja Harishchandra was screened at the Coronation Cinema in Bombay on 13 May 1913. The film ran for 23 consecutive days which was a record for that time.
After the success of the first film, Phalke made his second film. Her name was Mohini Bhasmashoor. That film was completed in 3 months and was released in 1914. After the success of two films, the demand for Phalke’s films increased. After this Phalke made the third film Savitri Satyavan which was released in June 1914. Then Phalke’s name started spreading abroad as well. That’s why Phalke thought of getting an electric machine from abroad. In June, he went to London. But then the First World War broke out. He screened films in London with the help of his friend Caborne. He was also praised in the newspaper there, but due to the war, the goods from other countries stopped coming. That’s why Phalke made small films instead of making big films. Such as Ganesh festival, Buddhist Gaya, Ellora caves etc.
Taking advantage of the knowledge of magic, he made a film called Kelfa Ka Jadoo, in which he himself played the role of a magician. To manage the money, he went to many places with the film he made. People took pity on seeing his film and collected a huge amount and gave it to him.
When the money was arranged, they made two films together. One of these was Lanka Dahan and the other was the new version of Raja Harishchandra. People broke down at the cinema house to watch Lanka Dahan. The desire of the people to watch his film was such that in a cinema hall in Madras, the audience broke the doors. In 1917, Phalke founded the Hindustan Film Company. The first film of this company was Shri Krishna Janma which was released in 1918. After that Kaliya Mardan was made. But after some time due to conflict with the shareholders of the company, he moved to Banaras. And here after the success of the films, many more film companies opened which became a challenge for the Hindustan Film Company.
Dada Saheb Phalke award
Then Phalke saheb was called back from Banaras. After 1922, Phalke made mythological and historical films such as Shishupal Vadh, Sant Namdev, Buddha Dev, etc. Phalke’s last film was Setubandhan. In late 1934, a film company called Kolhapur Cineton made him a talking film called Gangavataran. By then Phalke was 70 years old. He died on 16 February 1944 in Nashik. After his death the government remembered his contribution. The Dada Saheb Phalke Award was instituted in his memory on the occasion of his centenary. This award will always remind us of Dada Saheb Phalke.
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