Inception of Indian Cinema was in the early 1913 under the British Raj. Dadasaheb Phalke started it with his first full-length feature film titled ‘Raja Harishchandra‘. It was a silent film as sound recording technology did not allow the sound to sync with the cinema reel. Phalke’s first film was great commercial success in India, and the first film to get screened in London, just a year later after its India release. It was a great achievement for the Indian cinema which was started by a Marathi speaking person.
In the earlier times cinema culture was not popular in India. People looked down upon towards an individual who had aspirations to work in the film industry. It was quite difficult for Dadasaheb to convince people to work for him. It was about setting up an industry which seemed to be a mirage in the early nineties. In his films, female characters used to be played by male actors, as women’s working in cinema was a social stigma. Dadasaheb Phalke found every hurdle to be a new opportunity for experimentation. It certainly inspired an entire generations of filmmakers in India.
Along with Dadasaheb Phalke other contributor to the Marathi cinema was Baburao Painter. He operated his unit from the city of Kolhapur, 375 km away from Mumbai. Baburao Painter created the ‘Maharashtra Film Company’ at that time; it was an independent film production house based in Kolhapur. Baburao was the first Indian film maker to sketch costumes, character movements and characters which was described by Albert Einstein as ‘stenographic’. Painter introduced the use of artificial light for shooting on celluloid. He was the one who pointed out the benefits and need of film publicity, when concept as such was unheard for most of the sophisticated minds.
It is sad to know that Maharashtra Film Company closed down its business at the time of introduction of sound. Baburao Painter thought that cinema should be a visual medium; if the stories are narrated using dialogue the art would lose its visual language. Looking upon the present scenario, his understanding was true to a certain extent. But his contribution to cinema could have been imperative if he would have continued with film-making and adapted to the change.
Indian cinema would remember Dadasaheb Phalke and Baburao Painter for their immense contribution towards Marathi cinema and laying foundation stone for Indian cinema eventually. Indeed their contribution was one of the most significant for the country.
Note: Stay tuned for ‘Inception of Marathi Cinema’ (Part 2)