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Nation remembers father of Indian cinema Dadasaheb Phalke on his 148th birth anniversary

Search engine giant Google honoured iconic director Dadasaheb  on the occasion of his birth anniversary with a doodle. Today’s Doodle by artist Aleesha Nandhra shows a young Dadasaheb in action as he went about directing the first few gems in the history of Indian cinema.

The Father of Indian cinema Dadasaheb was one of the most eminent producer, directors and screenwriters in the history of Indian film industry.

Dadasaheb is considered as the father of Indian cinema 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. 

Dadasaheb was born in Trimbak in present-day Maharashtra on April 30, 1870 and has one of the country’s most prestigious awards named after him.

The son of a scholar, Phalke developed a keen interest in the arts and studied at various points, photography, lithography, architecture, engineering, and even magic.  After stints as a painter, draftsman, theatrical set designer, and lithographer, he chanced upon Alice Guy’s silent film, The Life of Christ (1910).

Already deeply influenced by the works of painter, Raja Ravi Varma, Phalke resolved to bring Indian culture to the silver screen. He traveled to London to learn filmmaking from Cecil Hepworth. 

In 1913, India’s first silent film, Raja Harishchandra was released. Phalke’s magic touch with special effects and mythology made it a huge hit, and it was followed by a dozen more. 

The success of his first movie gave Phalke the confidence of making many more movies, including documentary films, short films, comic films, educational films and so on. With the growing popularity of Indian films, many wealthy businessmen became interested in investing money in them. Getting finances also became easy now.

Hindustan Films is the first film company which was formed by Phalke along with some noted businessmen of Mumbai, who were partners in the same. The businessmen were taken into partnership so that the finances of the company did not suffer.     

Phalke created a model studio and also imparted training to various actors as well as technicians. However, the happy times did not last for long as there were incessant problems with the partners. His resignation from Hindustan Films took place in 1920 and he also announced his retirement from the world of cinema. However, when the film company ran into severe losses, Phalke was requested to join back, which he did. 

He made 95 movies and 27 short films in his career spanning 19 years, till 1937, including his most noted works: Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Krishna Janma (1918), Kaliya Mardan (1919) and Setu Bandhan (1932). During 1936-38, he produced his last film Gangavataran (1937), before retiring to Nashik, where he died on February 16, 1944.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award, for lifetime contribution to cinema, was instituted in his honour by the Central Government in 1969. The award is one of the most prestigious awards in Indian cinema and is the highest official recognition for film personalities in the country.

A postage stamp bearing his likeness was released by India Post to honour him in 1971.  An honorary award from the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Mumbai was introduced in the year 2001, for lifetime achievement in Indian cinema.

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