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Happy Birthday: Raja Harischandra, Indian Films

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A passion to 'make images moving' gave birth to the Indian film industry, the world's largest film industry with over 1,000 films made in various languages. A photographer, who saw an English film on the life of Jesus Christ in Mumbai, was motivated to make movies on Indian epic heroes. But mere aspiration was not enough for him to create a motion picture as the road to make a film had difficulties at every step. Yet, he created what he wanted to and laid the foundation stone to billion-dollar Indian industry. It is none other than Dadasaheb Phalke aka Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, who made the first silent film on this very day (May 3), 100 years ago.

Dadasaheb Phalke produced and directed Raja Harishchandra. The film revolves around the story of mythological King Harishchandra, a King who never uttered a lie in his entire life. He was the ruler of Ayodhya. He ruled his Kingdom wisely. It throws light on the nobles and righteousness of the ruler and his vow to tell nothing but truth. His struggles and sacrifices on his path form the crux of the story. The story was penned by the director with the support of Ranchhodbai Udayram. Phalke had chosen Marathi stage actors to play the lead roles. It has to be noted that male actors had enacted the roles of female, as casting woman in those times was unimaginable. Continue reading the story in the slideshow...

A Still From Raja Harishchandra

Dattatraya Damodar Dabke enacted the role of Raja Harishchandra, and Anna Salunke was seen in the role of his wife Taramati. Phalke's son Bhalachandra D Phalke did the role of the King's son Rohtash and GV Sane played the role of Sage Vishwamitra.

A Still From Raja Harishchandra

The movie lasted for 40 minutes. The film was released on 3 May 1913 at Mumbai's Coronation Cinema, Girgaon. The silent film had titles in Hindi and English languages.

A Still From Raja Harishchandra

Phalke took seven months and 21 days to complete Raja Harishchandra. The film was well received by public, and it was a commercial hit too.

A Still From Raja Harishchandra

The massive response got by audience for its first release made Dadasaheb to increase prints and release it in rural areas. The film was a grand success and soon established Phalke as a producer and paved the way for the Indian film industry.

A Still From Raja Harishchandra

Thus, Raja Harishchandra remains the landmark film in Indian films and Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema.

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