Indian cinema is perhaps older than even the Independence of India, which makes it a topic over which long interesting conversations can be had. Now, what exactly were the seeds of Indian cinema and how did it all begin?
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Contrary to popular belief, the first motion picture made in India wasn’t made by the great Dadasaheb Phalke, with all due respect. The first motion picture was a documentary movie made on a wrestling match called ”wrestlers" made by an H.S.Bhatavdekar, surprised? I was too bowled over by this piece of trivia.
Bhatavdekar was one of the many who witnessed the first film show by Lumiere brothers in 1896.He was so inspired that he went on to buy a movie camera and projector from London. Strangely enough, he never switched to making movies and made documentaries on day-to-day life and a few important events like the Delhi durbar of Lord Curzon.
Next guy on the scene was Dadasaheb Torne. Now this guy deserves a mention because he filmed a play not by just placing a camera behind, he shot it like a movie is shot. He filmed the play from different angles and joined it finally in parts to make it engaging. This was the first editor in Indian cinema that actually did the job out of a desire to make it more than just a recording, to make it interactive. An editor’s job is paramount in the filmmaking process. A standard recorded fight scene has 36 shots from different angles shown in a span of a few seconds. Remember the amazing helicopter scene in the beginning of Spectre? Say thanks to the editor.
Now after these two pioneers do we get to the avant-garde Screenwriter and Director, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke a.k.a Dadasaheb Phalke. Dadasaheb set standards for movie-making at a time when it wasn’t even considered a profession. A visionary film-maker, he made the first silent film-Raja Harishchandra.
A Parsi gentleman by the name of Jamshedji Madan came in the movie production scene in the 1900s.He employed foreign directors who were technically sound to make movies like Nala Damyanti(1921) and Dhruva Charitra(1921).Yes! Indian movies made by foreign directors aren’t a new thing!
Also worth mentioning is Mr.Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu who built and owned the first cinema halls in the country. Until then, movies were shown in tents with a projector!
After a few years, the Bengali filmmakers who entered the scene were Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, and Bimal Roy. Soon enough, cinema was looked upon as a viable career option by a few creative minds and Bollywood as we know it started to emerge with the cinema of Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor. That’s all for now Folks! Hope this article gave you a perspective of the history of Indian cinema. Cheers!!
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Article by Neel Katarnavare
Cinephile, part-time Writer, and a Digital playground critic.
He loves having good conversations and can be reached at https://twitter.com/NeelKatarnavare