Home ShortStories Artist Lights, Camera, Action – Dadasaheb Phalke

Lights, Camera, Action – Dadasaheb Phalke


You must have heard about notable personalities receiving the  ‘Dadasaheb Phalke Award given every year which is the most prestigious award in cinema in India.

But have you ever wondered who is the Dadasaheb Phalke and why is this particular award in this field named after him?  In today’s story, we will know more about Dadasaheb Phalke, the Father of the Indian Cinema.

Bollywood Movies as we now know them were a lot different in the early 1900s, back then movies did not have a colour or even sound the first movies to have sounds in it were referred to as the “talkies” because of the fact that you could hear the people on-screen talking to each other.

Dadasaheb Phalke was a pioneer of the cinema industry. While studying in the Sir J.J School of Art in Mumbai he learnt drawing painting and photography and even became very adept at magic. Maybe it was here that his fascination with whimsy and the unconventional lead him into the enthralling and unprecedented field of movie-making. 

Soon he would create India’s first full-length feature film. He started his career as a novice photographer in the small town of Godhra. Due to the outbreak of the plague, he lost his first wife and one child 

A devastated and heartbroken Dadasaheb left Godhra for good, later taking up a job in the archaeological survey of India. He also went to Germany to learn new technologies, in fact, he became very popular because he brought the first-ever professional camera to India from Germany. 

The Eureka moment was Easter Sunday in 1906 when he saw a screening of “The Life of Christ”. It was while watching this film that he got an inspiration wanted to do something creative in the field of moving pictures with Indian deities and personalities and thus he embarked on a long and tedious journey to bring his creative vision to life. 

He pledged his life insurance policies, his expectant wife even sold her jewellery to raise money for the film. He worked as the director, the producer and was the driving force behind this project at a time when movies were unheard of, some of his friends were convinced he was mad, even trying to have him admitted to an asylum.

Dadasaheb Phalke was 40 when he made his debut film Raja Harishchandra. All this hard work paid off when the movie was released as a silent film in 1913 and put for public viewing at Coronation Cinema in Mumbai. 

This silent film was the foundation stone for the glamorous movie world we know and love today, all possible because of the man who had a not so glamorous struggle!