The Father of Indian Cinema- Dadasaheb Phalke

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The glamorous world of Bollywood has reached every corner of this country and is gaining strength with every passing day. The ones to credit for this are the artists of the bygone days, and one such personality is Dadasaheb Phalke. He was one of the most influential of minds a producer, director and screenwriter. Dhundirai Govind Phalke is the birth name of Dadasaheb Phalke, but he earned another title through his professional life that is very apt, for he is known as the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’.

Born in a deshastha Brahmin Marathi family living in Tryambakeshwar (a place near Nasik), Phalke graced this earth on 30th April, 1870. The son of an accomplished scholar, Phalke got an opportunity to undergo a high quality education. He joined Sir J. J. School of Arts in 1885 and completed his education in Kala Bhavan, Baroda; there he studied sculpture, engineering, drawing, painting and photography.

He commenced his career as a small town photographer in Godhra and since then he jumped from one profession to another. However, restless from all his choices he turned to the business of the printing press. This led him to Germany where he learnt great many things regarding the latest technology and art. But things changed when saw The Life of Christ. The world of cinema caught his attention like nothing ever had!

He bid farewell to the printing press and traveled to London to learn the art of moviemaking. He returned with a camera, a printing machine, a perforator, raw film and a dream.


In the year 1912, at the age of 40 and while questions regarding his sanity were raised, Dadasaheb Phalke started filming his first movie ‘Raja Harishchandra’. a year later, on 3rd May, 1913 India’s first full-length feature film was released. Beating all odds, the movie did extremely well. Though, ‘Raja Harishcandra’ was not the first Indian moive, Phalke with his futuristic vision showed the potential of growth of India cinema.


Dadasaheb Phalke at the set of Raja Harishchandra dressing his son

Dadasaheb Phalke’s career lasted for 19 years, which is less in comparison to most artists, but in that time he achieved much more than most others ever could. He made 95 movies and 26 short films, which include some of his best work like Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kaliya Mardan (1919).

He started a film company in partnership, namely Hindustan Films, but due to some disputes he decided to retire from the business. Although he returned he felt constrained and after directing a few other films he left for good in 1937.

His work had great influence in the later years and laid the foundation for Indian cinema. In fact one of the most prestigious awards is named in the honor of Dadasahab Phalke, the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’.


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