101 Years ago on this day, 3 May 1913, Raja Harishchandra, 1st full-length Indian feature film was released, flagging off a remarkable journey for Indian cinema. Harishchandrachi Factory looks at how Dadasaheb Phalke kept his dream alive.
Harishchandrachi Factory is about a man from a lower-middle class who starts the trend of movie-making and establishes the movie industry in India.
Inspired by the film ‘Amazing Animals’, the protagonist begins to film his own ‘moving picture’. Despite facing financial problems, we find Dadasaheb Phalke trying to make ends meet, balancing his family as well as keeping his dream alive.
He gets so deeply influenced by his own ambition that he is not able to tear himself away from the film, watching it over and over again. The over-exposure to celluloid weakens his eyesight. But ignorant about the use of spectacles, he starts believing that he has lost his eyesight.
As the story progresses, we realize that the most popular belief prevalent during that time was about ‘losing one’s caste by stepping out of one’s native soil’. However, this did not prove to be a barrier strong enough to prevent Phalke from going to London for ‘further studies’.
Harishchandrachi Factoryexplores the influence of western culture through Phalke’s eagerness to shift to the western tie-and-suit attire from the traditional Indian dhoti, during his stay in London.
However, Phalke refuses to let European thoughts influence his own, as he rejects the opportunity to shoot his films in London. He believes that India needs to experience movie-making so that the Indian people could make use of this source of entertainment.
We realize that the protagonist does not lose sight of his objective and remains true to his roots. He refrains from brewing up arrogance and ego within himself. Phalke remains humble throughout.
The movie also projects the initial unwillingness of the people to accept anything that is new and different from the conventional things. Thus, Phalke’s initiative to shoot his films is treated with a lot of suspicion and hostility, so much so that he is soon termed as a ‘madman’. People had associate his craze for shooting with the impact of British influence on the people.
The movie also brings out the Indian belief of having a deep sense of belongingness towards one’s family. It brings out the fact that even a nuclear family can have a strong sense of togetherness.
Usually it was seen that siblings, especially brothers, were not always in genial terms with each other. In the movie however, we see that the three siblings have a jovial relationship and are happy in their strongly knit family.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that the movie shows the family as being a supportive backbone for Phalke’s ambition. No possible job can ever be completed without the support of family members. And so, despite facing financial loss, Phalke’s family pamper his dream till it is finally achieved.
Harishchandrachi Factoryalso acts as an encouragement for parents to support the girl child and be happy for the birth of a baby girl. The movie does not project any bias towards the male child, but gives enough prominence to the baby girl. But the film does explore the then practice of branding women who acted in front of the camera, as inferior.
It is also worth noting that Phalke’s work crazed mind is obsessed with meeting the deadline. Even the accident of his elder son does not stop him from discontinuing with his shooting. Though he is not a careless father, he puts his job on a higher priority than the well-being of his son.
This shows the gradual inclination of mankind to overlook any kind of interference or interruption that may hamper with the ‘job-at-hand’. It also shows the gradual assimilation of the Indian society into the rat race where competition is a predominant factor.
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Harishchandrachi Factory: A glimpse
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