A silent tribute
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There couldn't have been a better cinematic coincidence. It was 100 years ago that the first-ever Indian movie, Raja Harishchandra, was made by a visionary who broke all barriers to launch the world's largest film industry. A century later, Dadasaheb Phalke's contribution to Indian cinema is being celebrated in a book, The Silent Film, which is written by his great-grandniece, Sharayu Phalke Summanwar.
"Phalke made 130 films in his lifetime, which is a great feat considering the technology that was available at that time. He struggled against all odds, despite the displeasure of the British, the advent of the World War and his own financial struggles," says Summanwar, whose book contains details of Phalke's personal life as well as his prolific film career. She adds that it was after watching The Life of Jesus Christ at a local theatre that Phalke got inspired to make a film. With Rs.25,000 and a staff of around 40 people, in 1912, he began Raja Harishchandra, a silent film. However, the movie captured the imagination of thousands of Indians.
Summanwar's research recorded the anecdotes she had heard about Phalke in her childhood from her relatives, but since these were usually about his personal life, she had to read old publications and watch his films to understand the man. She read copies of Kesari and Navayug, popular Marathi publications of that time, which featured regular columns on filmmaking by Phalke. The true magic in the book, however, is Summanwar giving the readers a glimpse of Phalke in his private moments. "He lived a grand life in Nasik, where he had his studio, and would entertain over 40 people at his house everyday," she says.
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