Dadasaheb Phalke 143 Not Out

Dadasaheb Phalke 143 Not Out

April 30 is Dadasaheb Phalke's 143rd birth anniversary. Dhundiraj Govind Phalke was a graduate from Mumbai's JJ School of Arts and studied art,...

bhavanaApril 30 is Dadasaheb Phalke's 143rd birth anniversary. Dhundiraj Govind Phalke was a graduate from Mumbai's JJ School of Arts and studied art, sculpture and photography at Baroda's Kala Bhawan. Over the years he flirted with many creative mediums like painting and printing business. There is an interesting story about how he hung around the famous painter Raja Ravi Verma who actually gifted Phalke his first still camera. Following a dispute with his partner Phalke shut his printing press and concentrated full time on photography. Around this time he saw a film 'The Life of Jesus Christ', was so impressed that he saw the same film over and over again and was inspired to make India's first feature film 'Raja Harishchandra'. The year was 1913. In the coming years Phalke shot 95 feature and 26 short films � all written, produced and directed by him in a span of 20 years. Phalke died on 16 February 1944. This year we are celebrating the centenary year of Indian films.
At the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival a special section is devoted to 100 years of cinema and a number of film folks are participating in different sections of the grand celebration. Delhi is hosting a six-day festival - Audio Visual Voyage- that will honour legendary filmmakers and actors like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Rajesh Khanna and Shammi Kapoor among others with tributes. A special section on Satyajit Ray will present not just his films but Ray memorabilia. Since Phalke started his cinematic journey watching a film inside a tamboo and that is how he presented his debut film to the world, an actual tent has been created in the foyer of Siri Fort Auditorium for viewers to experience cinema pattern of early 20th century. There is more � Films Division has curated an exhibition to familiarise visitors with vintage cinema equipments and will showcase rare films from their archives. Central Board of Film Certificate is hosting a unique workshop. CBFC have been working on this unique concept for a long time and are finally ready to tell the present generation about the evolution of censorship � the workshop is aptly called Cut Uncut. All this would not have happened had the Lumiere Brothers not landed in Bombay in 1896 to screen their first 10 minute film. Today we are proud to recall that 'Raja Harishchandra' is India's first feature film, 'Alam Ara'1931, India's first Talkie and 'Kisan Kanya' 1937 India's first colour film. The centenary year has refreshed many memories like Fatima Begum was India's first woman director, Mandakini, first child star, Kusum Kumari, first female star and Kanan Debi, first playback success. Special effort has been exercised to restore old damaged prints of films digitised between 2009 -12. Some silent films have been restored including 'Raja Harishchandra' and Franz Osten's 'Throw of Dice'. Of the newer talkie films to be restored include Shyam Benegal's 'Ankur', 'Manthan' , 'Bhumika' among some films of Adoor Gopalkrishna and Mrinal Sen as well. Eminent theatre personality Aamir Raza Hussain's play on the life and times of Dadasaheb Phalke will mark the end of the festival.
Every celebration comes wrapped with heartache and this one is no exception. It is 100 years and we are still not sure whether 'Shri Pundalik' made by Dadasaheb Torney was India's first feature film or Dadasaheb Phalke's 'Raja Harishchandra'? The debate has been on since 1953 and the controversy comes up everytime we come to a milestone year. PK Nair, Founder of National Film Archive India says 'Pundalik' was a play that was most probably filmed in parts while 'Raja Harishchandra' has a definite story and screenplay integral for a film. Historians say that after 'Pundalik' Torney was transferred to Karachi by his employers Cotton Greaves and returned to India and cinema after more than a decade. He made few films but none were significant. Phalke on the other hand never gave up on celluloid and never left Nashik, his 'Karambhoomi' till he died in 1944. His grandchildren still live in Nashik and like Mahatma Gandhi's grandchildren are remembered on the birth and death anniversary of their famous grandfather. That is life. The government promised the Phalke family, a few years ago, to declare Haud Bungalow, where Phalke shot his early films, as Heritage structure but that has not happened! They are upset that no mention has been made about this in the 100 year celebrations anywhere in the entire country. It is shameful that a mall has come up in the place of Dadasaheb's home. The family does not want to lose memories associated to his workplace to another building, but is anybody listening? Or is this show business�!! www.
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