Yadharthaa Film Society celebrates Dadasaheb Phalke and his contributions to Indian Cinema

“Cinema is a sought-after entertainment,” says R.S.Rajan, “but little do we know about its history and how it started in India.” As the secretary of Yadharthaa Federation of Film Societies of India, it was his wish to make people aware of how the first Indian movie was made 100 years ago. In order to do so, the contributions of Dada Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, had to be recalled.

So Yadharthaa organised a special screening of two of Phalke’s much-acclaimed films -- the first Indian silent movie, Raja Harishchandra made in 1913 and Kaliya Mardan made in 1919.Both these films were screened in Coronation theatre in Bombay exactly a century ago. “Phalke was an extraordinary film maker. He used advanced camera and editing techniques in an era they were unknown. He was also the first to introduce outdoor shooting,” observes Rajan.

Since Phalke mostly dealt with mythological films, constant use of ‘Wipe and dissolve’ technique and image super-imposing to bring out the magical effect can be seen in his movies.

Rajan cites Kaliya Mardan, as the first modern construction of mythology. “In the film, Krishna’s friends are shown wearing Gandhi caps – in a pre-congress era. And this was the first medium to show Krishna and his mythical sports with an element of realism devoid of the usual superhero exaggerations,” says Rajan. He adds that here is attention to detail in every frame including the costumes of artists and the various props used in the scene.

In one of his articles, P.K. Nair, the Founder and Director of National Film Archive of India, elaborates how Phalke’s every frame has inspirations and elements from Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. “This, says Rajan, shows how Phalke brought out an essentially Indian feel in his film in the pre-Independence period.”

The event concluded with the screening of a Marathi documentary film ‘Harishchandrachi Factory’ made in 2012, on the life and contributions of Dadasaheb Phalke.