Dadasaheb Phalke: The Father of Indian Cinema

OV Digital Desk

Dadasaheb Phalke (30 April 1870 – 16 February 1944) was an Indian film producer, director, and screenwriter, who is widely regarded as the father of Indian cinema.

Life and Career

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke was born on 30 April 1870, in Nashik, Maharashtra, India. He was interested in the arts as a kid. In 1885, he enrolled at the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. While he was there, he took up photography, lithography, architecture, amateur drama, and even magic. He worked briefly as a painter, a set designer, and a photographer.

He was influenced by a series of Ravi Varma’s Hindu god paintings while working at Ravi Varma’s lithography press, which he then used in his own mythological movies to portray all sorts of gods and goddesses. Phalke started Phalke’s Art Printing and Engraving Works in 1908, but the business failed due to disagreements between them. The Life of Christ (1910) marked a turning point in Phalke’s career when he saw it by chance. Inspired by the film, Phalke was on a mission to bring Indian culture to the big screen. In 1912, he studied filmmaking with British pioneer Cecil Hepworth in London.

Phalke made his debut as a filmmaker with India’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1913. It was a silent film that ran for about 40 minutes and depicted the story of a king who upholds truth and righteousness. He went on to make several other films, including Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), and Lanka Dahan (1917).

In addition to his pioneering work in Indian cinema, Phalke was also a talented artist, photographer, and writer. His work in cinema paved the way for the Indian film industry, which has since become one of the largest and most successful film industries in the world. He died on 16 February 1944, in Maharashtra, India.

Award and Legacy

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 1969, in recognition of his contributions to Indian cinema. The Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest award for lifetime achievement in cinema, was named in his honor. It was instituted in 1969 by the Indian government to recognize outstanding contributions to the film industry. On 30 April 2018, Google celebrated Dadasaheb Phalke’s 148th Birthday.