Dadasaheb Phalke Birth Anniversary: Lesser-known facts of the iconic filmmaker

Dadasaheb Phalke was an Indian producer, director and screenwriter born on 30 April 1870. He is more popularly known as the Father of Indian Cinema. His debut film, Raja Harishchandra was the first Indian movie in 1913 and it is now known as India's first full length feature film. He made 95 feature-length films and 27 short films in his career. There is an award named in his honour. It is awarded for lifetime contribution to cinema by the Government of India.

Here are some lesser known facts about the Father of Indian Cinema:

  • At the age of 15, Dadasaheb joined J.J school of Art in Mumbai where he studied sculpture, drawing, painting and photography.

  • He even attended Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and completed a course in Oil painting and watercolour painting.

  • In 1890, he moved to Vadodara, Gujarat to work as a small-time photographer.

  • He quit his photography job after losing his first wife and child who were victims of Bubonic Plague.

  • Phalke started working in the Archaeological Survey of India as a Draftsman but resigned to start his own printing press in Maharashtra.

  • After working with Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma, Dadasaheb took his first trip overseas and worked with a magician, Carl Hertz in Germany.

  • Dadasaheb's life turned around after watching Ferdinand Zecca's silent film, 'The Life of Christ.' It was after this that Dadasaheb decided to make his first film.

  • Dadasaheb was looking for some handsome faces to cast in the lead role of his film and gave out advertisements for the same. However, after encountering some inadequate options he was forced to write "ugly faces need not apply" in his subsequent ads.

  • Dadasaheb controlled direction, distribution, set-building and even played the role of Harishchandra in his first film. His wife managed the costume designing and his son played Harishchandra’s son in the film. For making the entire feature, Dadasaheb spent 15 thousand rupees and had to cast a man for the female lead as no woman was willing to work.

  • Dadasaheb's great-grandniece, Sharayu Phalke Summanwar, penned his biography titled in The Silent Film.

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