D G Phalke

Dada Saheb Phalke
1870 - 1944

The Journey

A short and crisp look at the career of Dada Saheb Phalke

Birth: Born as Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, at Trymbakeshwar near Nasik in 1870. Being a son of a shashtri, Dajishastri Phalke, he was committed to be shastri and was trained for a career, as a Sanskrit scholar.

Education: Having a keen interest in arts, Dadasaheb Phalke joined Sir J. J. School of Arts in 1885 for a course in Drawing and then continued with his art studies at Baroda's famous Kalabhavan.

Struggle: Started his photo studio in 1895 in Gujarat. Learnt trick photography but failed to sustain the business. In 1906 started his printing press at Lonavala. Business flourished, so he moved to Bombay, in 1908.

Film Making: Fascinated by the moving pictures, he decided to get into the film making. Went London and bought equipments for film making. Raja Harishchandra, his first moving picture, was premiered in 1913, at Olympia Theatre, Bombay. It was 3700 feet long.

Success: He made a couple of films, Nal Damayanti, Mohini Bhasmasur etc. In, 1917 he released his next venture, Lanka Dahan. This film met a massive success. With new partners he converted his Phalke Film Company to Hindustan Cinema Films Company in 1918.

Retirement: The Hindustan Cinema Films Company made few successful films, Shri Krishna Janma and Kaliya Mardan. Differences started to erupt between the partners and finally Phalke left the company and moved to Kashi.

Comeback: Hindustan Cinema Films Company failed miserably after the departure of Phalke and requested him to join back. After a stern refusal he, finally, decided to join back as a Technical advisor, in 1922. He made several films but none of them were as successful as his previous films. 

Last Days: Phalke made his first sound film titled Gangavataran, released in 1937. He finally retired and relocated to Nashik, where he died of old age in 1944. Govt. of India recognised his contibution and instituted the highest honor Dadasaheb Phalke Award, for lifetime contribution to cinema, in 1969.

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