Raja Harishchandra (Image Credit: Instagram)
Today Indian cinema has its own credentials in the world. India, which is the largest producer of films in the world, has made remarkable progress in every field of cinema. On the 108th anniversary of Indian cinema, it will be very exciting to know when and how the first film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was made in India. Let us know (Dadasaheb Phalke’s) debut story ‘Raja Harishchandra’
The dream of seeing Shri Ram and Krishna walking on the screen
Dada Saheb Phalke was born on 30 April 1870. He had never seen the film. One day, on the insistence of a friend, he went to see the English film ‘Amazing Animal’ screened at America India Theater in Girgaum (Bombay). For the first time on the screen, he was surprised when he saw a person walking. When he told this thing to his family when he came home, no one believed his words. The next day he arrived to see the film with the whole family, then everyone was convinced. At that time, he was 41 years old. After this, whenever Dadasaheb came a new film, he used to reach to see it. On the same day on Easter, Dadasaheb arrived to see ‘The Life of Christ’. When I saw Jesus Christ moving on the screen, I wish I could see Ram and Krishna moving on the screen like this. Just at that moment he made up his mind that we would make such a film in which the world would know about Indian culture.
The passion of film making reached London
In his insistence and passion for making films, he reached London to learn film making. After learning the main techniques of film making for two weeks, he came back to Bombay. On 1 April 1912, he started a production company called ‘Phalke Films’. During his stay in London, he had booked orders for Williamson’s Camera and Kodak Raw Films. All these items were found on May 1912.
The journey was not easy
To dream of making a film was as easy as finding a producer. In the absence of trust, no one wanted to take the risk of investing money on Dada Saheb’s film making. Dada Saheb made a short film on the development of pea plant to instill confidence in the producers, then Yashwant Nadkarni and Narayan Rao believed and agreed to help Dada Saheb with money.
When the money was arranged, then Dadasaheb printed an advertisement in the newspaper for the selection of artists. But whoever came, did not like his acting. He eventually chose a few artists from the theater. These artists were Pandurang Gadadhar Sane, Gajanan Vasudev and Datatreya Damodar Dabke. Dada Saheb liked Dabke’s personality for the role of King Harishchandra.
And this is how history was made
After the camera, raw material, artist and screenplay were ready, the process of making the film started. Shooting started at Situation Studio on Dadar Main Road for the shoot. After running continuously for 21 days, the 50-minute film Raja Harishchandra was completed. Since it was a silent film, there was no need for background music, song and music. Before the film’s release, Dada Saheb paid the actors a salary of Rs 40 for 21 days of work. Now on 21 April 1913, the film premiered at Olympia Theater in Grant Road (Bombay) with some special guests. The film was released on 3 May 1913 for the general public at the Bombay Cornation Theater near Girgaum. It is said that thousands of people gathered outside the theater to watch the first Indian film. Seeing this crowd, Dada Saheb was left gagged. His passion eventually created a record, a history.