I was gripped by a strange spell. I bought another ticket and saw the film again.
I was gripped by a strange spell. I bought another ticket and saw the film again. This time I felt my imagination taking shape on the screen. Could this really happen? Could we, the sons of India, ever be able to see the Indian images on the screen? None of the family members believed them, so Phalke took his family to see the film the next day.
So, he decided to make a short film to demonstrate the techniques. He planted some peas in a pot, placed a camera in front of it, and shot one frame a day for over a month. This resulted in a film, lasting just over a minute, of the seed growing, sprouting, and changing into a climber. Phalke titled this short film Ankurachi Wadh Growth of a Pea Plant and showed it to selective individuals. The story, which depicted the ill effects of alcoholism , was the first he considered for filming.
After watching several American films screened in Mumbai, he observed they included mystery and romance which the audiences liked. Family members suggested the storyline should appeal to middle class people and women and should also highlight Indian culture.
Bipeds who are drunkards, loafers or ugly should not bother to apply for actor. It would do if those who are handsome and without physical defect are dumb. Artistes must be good actors. Those who are given to immoral living or have ungainly looks or manners should not take pains to visit. It was well-received and huge number of applicants came in for the auditions. Since he was making a silent film, Phalke allowed mute artists to audition.
Despite a growing response to the advertisement, he was not satisfied with the performers' skills. He discontinued the advertisements and decided to scout for the artists through theatre companies. Gajanan Sane introduced his acquaintance Dattatraya Damodar Dabke.
Phalke was impressed with his physique and personality and offered him the lead role of Harishchandra. Phalke rejected them for not having satisfactory looks and revised the advertisement to read: A young lady with "passable appearance", who was a mistress , auditioned and Phalke selected her for the female lead. She rehearsed for four days.
However, on the fifth day, her master objected to her working in the film and took her away. He was asked either to pay a high salary or to marry the woman. Finally, Phalke's elder son Bhalchandra was assigned the role. Phalke ran several rehearsals with the actors. Often, he had to wear a sari himself and act out the scene. All the actors had to go through a mandatory exercise where they were asked to make similar faces.
Many of the company's shows were based on Hindu mythology. Phalke made the acquaintance of the company's proprietor, Babajirao Rane, and explained his idea of indigenous film production. Rane was impressed by the idea and offered his support by lending his actors and their costumes. Phalke decided to use material like Harishchandra's crown, wig, swords, shields, and bows and arrows in the film. He offered similar help, but Phalke politely declined as the majority of the cast and crew were finalised.
He painted the scenes for the palace, jungle, mountains, fields, caves himself on curtains. This included negative and positive film stocks, cameras, lights, Film laboratory equipment, printing and editing machines, negative cutting tools, and film projectors. He asked Trymbak B. Telang , his childhood friend from Nashik , to come to Mumbai.
Telang was working as a priest at the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple. Phalke had taught him still photography as a childhood hobby. While the sets were being erected at Phalke's bungalow at Dadar , an outdoor shooting was scheduled at Vangani, a village outside Mumbai. The villagers were frightened to see the troupe of people wearing costumes, wielding swords, shields, and spears and practising the scenes.
They informed the Patil village headman that dacoits robbers had entered the village. He immediately reported to the Faujdar commander who visited the temple. When Phalke reached the village, he immediately met the Patil and the Fauzdar and explained to them again about cinema and filming and showed them the equipment.
Without loading film into the camera, he asked his unit to enact one of the film's scenes and went through the motions of filming a scene. After viewing the scene, the Fauzdar understood Phalke's new venture and released everyone. Phalke treated him with a first aid kit , but he remained unconscious. Various unit members suggested that Bhalchandra should be taken to Mumbai for further treatment.
Once he was completely recovered, shooting could be resumed. The scene that was to be filmed showed Rohitashva, Bhalchandra's character dead on a funeral pyre. Resuming the outdoor shoot after Bhalchandra's recovery would have delayed the production and incurred costs. To avoid both, Phalke stoically decided to shoot the scene with the unconscious Bhalchandra. So, he took his unit to Trimbakeshwar , where they camped for about a month and filmed the required scenes. Phalke used to develop the film at night for the scenes shot during the day.
He would re-shoot the scenes next day if they were not of the desired quality. Filming was completed in six months and 27 days to produce a film of 3, feet, about four reels. The film negative stocks used were of limited spectral sensitivity with low sensitivity to the red band of the spectrum.
Thus, sets, costumes, and artists' make-up artists avoided the colour red. Phalke agreed to the idea but could not convince Saraswatibai to act in front of a camera.
Finally, Padurang Gadhadhar Sane played the role of Nati. He decided to show the film to a select audience and arranged for a premiere at the Olympia Theatre, Mumbai on 21 April at 9: Bhandarkar , Vima Dalal, Justice Donald, newspaper editors and representatives along with some intellectuals and prominent personalities from Mumbai.
Justice Donald noted the film would help Europeans learn more about Hindu mythology. Anant Narayan Kowlgekar of Kesari in his review mentioned that "Phalke has grandly brought his skill to the notice of the world.
The show included a dance by Irene Delmar, a comic act by McClements, foot-juggling by Alexandroff, and Tip-Top comic items followed by the film. An advertisement for the film published in The Bombay Chronicle had a note added at the end that the ticket rates would be double the usual rates.
A special show was scheduled on 17 May for women and children only at half rates. Initially, 18 May was advertised as the last show, but the film continued its run due to popular demand.
As there were no film distributors in those days, Phalke had to move the film, the projector, an operator, and some assistants from place to place. Despite advertising the film, at its first showing the film met with a lukewarm response. Phalke politely rejected these suggestions. He also had his actors enact some of the film's scenes at the town's crossroads. He appreciates the tonal gradation, lighting, and camera movements. He also notes the scene where the God appears and disappears from behind the smoke of sage Vishvamitra 's Yajna -kund gives an impression that the scene was filmed in a single shot.
He also mentions that the interior architecture and dresses of countries in the film are more of a Deccan Peshwai style than North Indian. Conflict of Traditional Form and Modern Technology mentions that the film's narrative style was borrowed from painting, theatre and traditional arts to attract the audience into cinema.
Phalke readily re-shot the film to produce the version that exists today. Some film historians believe they actually belong to a remake of the film, titled Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra. Some film historians consider Dadasaheb Torne 's silent film Shree Pundalik as the maiden Indian film.
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