Dada Saheb Phalke , India’s First Feature Film & The Oscars

2This week I read the news that India’s official entry  to the Oscars in the Foreign Film Category for 2009 is a Marathi film called , “ HARISHCHANDRACHI FACTORY ” . After “ SHWAS ” in 2004, this is the second Marathi feature film which is going to The Oscars. This is a great moment of honour for Marathi film industry in general and for Marathi film makers in particular. This is because , Indian film industry was started by a Marathi manoos and that too in Maharashtra.

In 1913 India undertook a long and arduous journey in the field of motion pictures. The pioneer of this new medium was a man of very humble origin called DADA SAHEB PHALKE. He worked hard, struggled a lot, mortgaged all his belongings and his wife’s ornaments and then made a film called “ RAJA HARISHCHANDRA ”. The film was released in a Talkies at Girgam, Mumbai in 1913. Whole nation was mesmerized and the world took notice of India’s prowess in this field. People went berserk. They wept, laughed, cried and danced in the cinema halls. Length of this film was 4 reels. Out of 4 reels, only 1st and 4th reels are now available. we lost 2 reels due to callousness and negligence. These 1st and 4th reels are still there in the possession of National Film Archives of India in Pune. I am fortunate and lucky that I have seen these two reels in the auditorium of Famous Studio, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai. I don’t remember the year clearly. May be it was in 1991 or 1992. I was speechless after watching the film. I felt very ecstatic that I could watch India’s first feature film. I still cherish the memory of that evening.

And now in 2009, we have a full length feature film on the lives , times and struggle of the great pioneer, DADA SAHEB PHALKE. “ HARISHCHANDRACHI FACTORY ” is a film about the man and about his toils and turmoil.

I wish the writer and director, a first timer, Mr. Paresh Mokashi all the success and luck.



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