Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, commonly known as Dadasaheb Phalke, was an Indian producer-director-screenwriter. ‘Raja Harishchandra’ marked Phalke’s film debut. It was not only Palke’s first film but was also the first movie to be made in India.
Accredited for making 27 short films and 95 feature-length films, some of his noteworthy works include, ‘Lanka Dahan,’ ‘Kaliya Mardan,’ ‘Mohini Bhasmasur,’ ‘Shri Krishna Janma,’ and ‘Satyavan Savitri.’ Some of his other renowned works are ‘Draupadi Vastraharan, ‘Bhakta Damaji,’ ‘Hanuman Janma,’ ‘Setu Bandhan,’ ‘Gangavataran,’ ‘Ankurachi Wadh,’ etc.
The highest official recognition for film personalities in India is ‘The Dadasaheb Phalke Award,’ which was founded in his honour by the government of India.
In 1971, a postage stamp was also released by India Post in his honour. A Marathi film titled ‘Harishchandrachi Factory,’ depicting Phalke’s struggle in making ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was made by Paresh Mokashi in 2009. The film made it to India’s official entry to the ‘Oscars.’
Considered as the first Indian feature film, it follows the story of Harishchandra who unintentionally interrupts a yagna being performed by Sage Vishwamitra. Harishchandra offers his kingdom to pacify the furious Vishwamitra, and goes in exile with Queen Taramati and son Rohitashva. They face more adversities, but finally Lord Shiva appears and he and Vishwamitra explain that they were testing Harishchandra’s integrity.