Timeline History

Dadasaheb Phalke

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke (April 30, 1870 - February 16, 1944) is known as the father of Indian cinema. Dadasaheb Phalke was born in Nasik. He joined Sir J. J. School of Arts, Bombay in 1885. After passing from J.J.School, Phalke went to the Kala Bhavan in Baroda where he learnt photography, printing and magic. He began his career as a small town photographer in Godhra but had to leave business after the death of his first wife and child in an outbreak of the bubonic plague. Persecuted, driven by from the city where he practiced the new art of photography (camera seen as life snatching lens), he went through a paranoia state for some time, during which he met the German magician Carl Hertz, one of the 40 magicians employed by the Lumiere Brothers.
Soon after, he had the opportunity to work with the Archeological Survey of India as a draftsman. However, restless with his job and its constraints, and moved by the swadeshi and swaraj spirit, he turned to the business of printing. He specialized in lithography and oleography, and worked for Raja Ravi Varma, man producing the paintings that found homes across the country. He later started his own printing press, made his first trip abroad to Germany, to assimilate the latest technology and machinery and proved to be most successful at home as well as abroad, where his excellence received high praise.
However, following a dispute with his partners about the running of the press, he gave up printing and turned his attention to the moving picture after his now-famous experience of watching a silent film The Life of Christ and envisioning Indian gods on the screen. He made his first film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1912; it was first shown publicly on May 3, 1913 at Bombay's Coronation Cinema, effectively marking the beginning of the Indian film industry.
Once again, he proved successful in his new art, and proceeded to make several silent films, short, documentary feature, educational, comic, tapping all the potential of this (dynamic explosive) new medium.
However, the market that had opened up in the face of naked skepticism and against all odds, having proved its almost unlimited financial viability, soon attracted businessmen and money minded entrepreneurs who sacrificed the aesthetic and moral concerns of the new media on the altar of commence. Phalke thought expedient to form a film company, Hindustan films in partnership with five businessmen from Bombay in the hope that by having the financial aspect of his profession handled by experts in the field, he would be free to pursue the idealistic nature of his calling. He set up a model studio and trained technicians, actors, but, very soon, as with his printing business he ran into insurmountable problems with his partners. Disgusted, disillusioned and despairing, Phalke resigned from Hindustan company, made his first announcement of retirement from cinema and retreated with his family to Kashi in 1920 where he wrote 'Rangbhoomi', a play. (‘Rangbhommi’ fetched him accolades and honors in the realm of theatre.)
But lacking his imaginative genius, the Hindustan company ran into deep financial loss, and he was finally persuaded to return. But it did not suit his temperament that he had to surrender his unique individual identity to the demands of meeting schedules and release dates and, after directing a few films for the company, he withdrew, content to train fresh directors, and to supervise the technical side of films production.
But then the times changed and Phalke fell victim to the very cause he had championed with such zeal and self sacrifice - the onward march of technology. Sound had arrived. Unable to cope with the talkie times, the man who had fathered the Indian film industry was engulfed by an image explosion that rendered him inert and paralyzed. His own creation haunted him, mute, he fled into fragmented memories of his pre-cinema, magic lantern days, his children unaware of the tragedy of his life and excited and enthralled by a promise for the future, fantasizing with the adventures of the new silver screen god.During 1936-38, he made his last film 'gangavataran'.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award was instituted in his honour.

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