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  • Prof. Rahul Jadav

The Father of Indian Cinema

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke was born on 30 April 1870 and hailed from a small town called Trayambakeshwar in Nashik district. Dadasaheb Phalke was an Indian director, producer, screenwriter, editor and distributor. He's considered the father of Indian cinema for giving the country its first full-length feature film. The indigenous silent film was titled Raja Harishchandra (1913).

In his 19-year career, he worked on 95 feature films and 27 short films. His last film, Gangavataran (1937), was Dadasaheb's only film with sound and dialogue. After his death in 1944, the Indian government endowed an award in his name in 1969: the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. It's the highest award for film personalities in the country to recognise valuable contributions to the development of Indian cinema. In 1971, the Indian Post Office issued a stamp with Dadasaheb's likeness to honour him.

Few unknown facts
  • At the age of 15, Dadasaheb entered the J.J School Of Art in Mumbai where he studied sculpture, drawing, painting and photography.

  • In 1890, he moved to Vadodara, Gujarat to work as a small-time photographer.

  • Dadasaheb gave up his job as a photographer after losing his first wife and child, who fell victim to the bubonic plague.

  • He started working at the Archaeological Survey of India as a draughtsman, but quit to start his own printing business in Maharashtra.

  • After working with Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma, Dadasaheb made his first overseas trip and worked with magician Carl Hertz in Germany.

  • Dadasaheb's life changed after he saw Ferdinand Zecca's silent film, The Life of Christ. It was then that Dadasaheb made the decision to make his first film.

  • Dadasaheb directed, distributed, built the sets and even played the role of Harishchandra in his first film. His wife took care of the costumes and his son played Harishchandra's son in the film. Dadasaheb spent 15,000 rupees for the entire film and had to cast a man for the female lead as no woman was willing to work.

  • Dadasaheb's great-grandniece, Sharayu Phalke Summanwar, has written his biography under the title The Silent Film.

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