Unheard facts about India’s first silent film

From early silent era films to modern VFX and animation loaded films, tales of Indian films have several twists of magic.

Journey of filmmaking in India began with the early era of silent films like ‘Raja Harishchandra’, ‘Lanka Dahan’, ‘Shakuntala’, ‘Bhakta Vidur’ and several other contemporaries of the era. The success of today’s films in India and its acclamation around the globe shares efforts from such films. This article presents some of the unknown facts of India’s very first silent film ‘Raja Harishchandra’, which shaped the modern art into what it is today.

‘Raja Harishchandra’, an inspiration to millions

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke or Dadasaheb Phalke, dreamed a narration of passion, love and inspiration which we now call it as ‘Raja Harishchandra’- India’s first silent-era film. Not many people know, but this film heavily draws its inspiration of art from Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings which intrigued Dadasaheb Phalke from a very early age. Quite interestingly, Dadasaheb Phalke created this film only with Indian cast and crew which ran for an overall duration of just 40 minutes.

Dadasaheb Phalke’s support for the first silent-era film with personal savings

Had it been without the help of Dadasaheb Phalke’s personal savings and effort, ‘Raja Harishchandra’ would have remained as a dream. DadasahebPhalke used his personal savings and belongings to support the film financially, and had also arranged technical support on his own to pave the way for the very first Indian silent film. Reportedly, Dadasaheb Phalke also needed an investment of 25000-30000 for the making of the film which he acquired only after creating a short demo film with ‘pea plant germination stage’ as a subject…quite a deal isn’t it?

Conflict on “which is India’s first silent film”

Although ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was released in 1913, it always gets into controversy with ‘Shree Pundalik’ which was released a year earlier 1912. However, what makes ‘Raja Harishchandra’ a winner is that the film is a complete ‘product of India’, unlike ‘Shree Pundalik’ which was rather a recording of a stage play and mostly created by a London  based production unit.

‘Raja Harishchandra’ and birth of India’s first child actor

Not many people know this, the character of ‘Rohtash’, as the son of ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was actually played by Dadasaheb Phalke’s own son ‘Bhalachandra D. Phalke which makes him perhaps one of the first child actors of India’s very first and won feature film ‘Raja Harishchandra’.

Released in 1913, ‘Raja Harishchandra’ is considered to be the greatest of all in context to some of the best classics of the word. Based on mythology, the film also does unfold human passion and patience, which is evident in the movie’s production success.


Sohini is a journalism and mass communication enthusiast from Kolkata with an extreme interest in creative writing. Focused on entertainment, health and lifestyle, her stories could make your net surfing much more interesting.
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