Tribute to Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, on his 75th death anniversary today.

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Tribute to Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, on his 75th death anniversary today.

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke was a renowned Indian filmmaker and screenwriter. Phalke was born on this day in 1870 in a Marathi family from Nashik, Maharashtra. He passed out from J. J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1890, Phalke went to the Kala Bhavan, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Vadodara, where he studied sculpture, engineering, drawing, painting, and photography.

The changing point in Phalke’s life was when he first time saw the silent film “The Life of Christ”. The film made such a great impact on his mind that he began to think if such films could be ever made with Indian themes. After raising some money and experimenting with a few short films, he went to London in February 1912 to learn the art and craft of film-making. Cecil Hepworth of Walton Studios trained him in the craft of film-making. Phalke bought a Willamson camera and returned India and set up Phalke Films in Bombay (Mumbai). These efforts gave birth to India’s first indigenous full-length feature cinema named “Raja Harishchandra” in 1912. It was first shown publicly on 3 May 1913 at Mumbai’s Coronation Cinema, effectively marking the beginning of the Indian film industry.

In his career as a filmmaker, Phalke made 95 feature films and 26 short films, the most prominent ones being Raja Harishchandra, Lanka Dahan, Kaliyamadan, Satyavan Savitri, and Mohini Bhasmasur. In fact, he was the first person to make a feature film in India, thus initiating the growth of the Indian film industry, which has reached far and wide today.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award, for lifetime contribution to cinema, was instituted in his honor by the Government of India in 1969. The award is one of the most prestigious awards in Indian cinema and is the highest official recognition for film personalities in the country. It is presented in National Film Awards ceremony annually by the Directorate of Film Festivals. The award comprises a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) medallion, a shawl, and a cash prize of Rs 1,000,000.

What made Phalke a legend was his passion for film, his overwhelming desire to make a film as India’s own and to remain in India for the growth of the film industry despite fabulous offers from England. He could have chosen to live in England luxuriously but he preferred to use his talent and energy for Mother India. He is rightly the father of Indian film industry.

Phalke may have left us 75 years ago but his imprints in the Bollywood would remain intact for the times to come.

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