Satyajit Ray, Lata Mangeshkar, Dilip Kumar, Sivaji Ganesan, Asha Bhosle, Yash Chopra, Dev Anand, K. Balachander, Amitabh Bachchan are the list of Indian cinema legends who were honored by the Dadasaheb Phalke award, which is India’s highest award in cinema for “outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema”. The man behind the name of this prestigious award is Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke, an Indian producer-director-screenwriter, known as the Father of Indian cinema.
An overall of 95 feature films and 27 short films, in his career, spanning 19 years, he is known as the Father of Indian cinema for writing, directing, producing, and distributing his debut movie, which is also India’s first movie Raja Harishchandra in 1913.
As a child, Phalke displayed great interest in the creative arts. Determined to pursue his dreams, he joined the Sir J.J. School of Art, Bombay (now Mumbai), in 1885. While there he pursued a variety of interests, including photography, lithography, architecture, and amateur dramatics, and he became adept even at magic. He briefly worked as a painter, a theatrical set designer, and a photographer. In 1908 Phalke and a partner established Phalke’s Art Printing and Engraving Works, but the business failed because of differences between them. It was Phalke’s chance viewing of the silent film The Life of Christ (1910) that marked a turning point in his career. Deeply moved by the film, Phalke saw it as his mission to bring all that was Indian to the moving picture screen. He went to London in 1912 to learn the craft from British pioneer filmmaker Cecil Hepworth. In 1913 he released India’s first silent film, Raja Harishchandra, a work based on Hindu mythology.
While there are news about him like, He had given several advertisements for seeking handsome actors for the lead role. But, these advertisements brought inadequate and non- professional talent and so, he was forced to add a line “ugly faces need not apply” and the miserable failure of his firm, the Phalke Diamond Company, a model studio to train technicians, actors. He made many more movies including renowned works like Mohini Bhasmasur in 1913, Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918), and Kaliya Mardan (1919). which paved the way to the cinema industry we have now.
In recognition of Phalke’s contribution to the Indian cinema, the India government instituted the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1969, an award presented annually by the president of India for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema.