Born on April 30, 1870, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke came from a small town in Bombay Presidency. Dadasaheb Phalke was an Indian director, producer screenwriter, editor and distributor. He is regarded as the Father of Indian cinema for giving the country its first full-length feature film. The indigenous silent film was titled, Raja Harishchandra (1913).
In a 19-year-career span, he worked on 95 feature films and 27 short films. His last film, Gangavataran (1937) was the only film made by Dadasaheb with sound and dialogues. After his death in 1944, the Government of India initiated an award on his name titled The Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1969. It is the highest award for film personalities in the country to recognize valuable contribution in Indian cinema’s development. In 1971, India post released a stamp bearing Dadasaheb’s character in his reverence.
On his birth anniversary, let’s go through some lesser-known facts about Indian cinema’s pioneer:
1. At the age of 15, Dadasaheb joined J.J School Of Art in Mumbai where he studied sculpture, drawing, painting and photography.
2. In 1890, he moved to Vadodara, Gujarat to work as a small-time photographer.
3. Dadasaheb quit his photography job after losing his first wife and child, who were victims of Bubonic Plague.
4. He started working in Archaeological Survey of India as a Draftsman but resigned to start his own printing press in Maharashtra.
5. After working with Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma, Dadasaheb took his first trip overseas and worked with a magician, Carl Hertz in Germany.
6. Dadasaheb’s life turned around after watching Ferdinand Zecca’s silent film, The Life of Christ. This was when Dadasaheb made up his mind to make his first film.
7. To cast in the lead role of his film, Dadadsaheb was looking for some handsome faces and gave out advertisements for the same. However, after encountering some inadequate options, he was forced to write “ugly faces need not to apply" in his subsequent ads.
8. Dadasaheb controlled direction, distribution, set-building and even played the role of Harishchandra in his first film. His wife managed the costume designing and his son played Harishchandra’s son in the film. For making the entire feature, Dadasaheb spent 15 thousand rupees and had to cast a man for the female lead as no woman was willing to work.
9. Dadasaheb great-grandniece, Sharayu Phalke Summanwar, penned his biography titled in The Silent Film.