Google on Monday honoured iconic director Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, who directed India’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1913, with a doodle on the occasion of his 148th birth anniversary. Phalke was popularly known as Dadasaheb.
Dadasaheb Phalke, who was born as Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, is credited to take Indian film making to new heights, and is often revered as the “father of Indian cinema”.
Why Dadasaheb Phalke is considered as the father of Indian cinema?
It is because of his debut movie Raja Harishchandra which was released in 1913. Not only the movie was his debut, it was India’s first full-length feature. During his time shaping up cinema in the country, he made as many as 95 movies and 27 short films in 19 years. Some of his most noted works include Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kaliya Mardan (1919).
Phalke worked as a painter, draftsman, theatrical set designer, and even as a lithographer. He was impressed by the works of painter, Raja Ravi Varma and vowed to show the Indian culture on the silver screen. Phalke learned filmmaking from Cecil Hepworth in London.
His first movie, Raja Harishchandra was a huge hit among the people of India. The special effects and mythology connected with the masses.
The Google Doodle is made by artist Aleesha Nandhra. The doodle depicts a young Dadasaheb in action as he went about directing the first few gems in the history of Indian cinema.
8 lesser known facts about Dadasaheb Phalke
1. Popularly known as Dadsaheb Phalke, the legend’s real name is Dhundiraj Govind Phalke.
2. The son of a scholar, he developed a keen interest in the arts at an early age, and studied photography, lithography, architecture, engineering, and even magic at various stages of his life. After stints as a painter, draftsman, theatrical set designer, and lithographer, he chanced upon Alice Guy’s silent film, The Life of Christ.
3. A life-turning moment for Phalke was when he watched the silent film, ‘The Life of Christ’ by Ferdinand Zecca and envisioned Indian Gods on the screen, finally making his first short film was ‘Growth of a Pea Plant’ in 1910.
4. While Dadasaheb was making his first movie, he put out advertisements seeking handsome actors for the lead role. Surprisingly, these advertisements brought so much amateur and inadequate talent, that Dadasaheb Phalke was forced to add a line saying, “ugly faces need not apply.”
5. Dadasaheb’s entire family took part in the making of Raja Harishchandra. His wife handled the costumes of the actors, the posters and production of the film and provided the whole crew with food and water. His son too, played a major role of Harishchandra’s son in the film.
6. A well-known early story is that Phalke’s immersion in intense viewing and experimentation led to ill-health and temporary blindness. There is a metaphorical aspect to the loss and recovery of sight in a man who declared that he would bring images of revered Indian deities to the screen, just as Christ’s image had been presented in the West.
7. He went to Germany to get introduced to new and upcoming technologies. There he bought his first movie camera, but nobody knows what happened to it afterwards.
8. His last silent movie Setubandhan was released in 1932 and later released with dubbing. His career was capsized by the introduction of sound in films. During 1936-38, he produced his last film Gangavataran before retiring to Nashik, where he died on 16 February 1944.
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