- 1913 – Raja Harishchandra, the first full-length Indian feature film, is released, marking the beginning of the Indian film industry.
Raja Harishchandra (transl. King Harishchandra) is a 1913 Indian silent film directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke. It is often considered the first full-length Indian feature film. Raja Harishchandra features Dattatraya Damodar Dabke, Anna Salunke, Bhalchandra Phalke, and Gajanan Vasudev Sane and is based on the legend of Harishchandra, with Dabke portraying the title character. The film, being silent, had English, Marathi, and Hindi-language intertitles.
Phalke decided to make a feature film after watching The Life of Christ (1906) at a theatre in Bombay in April 1911. In February 1912, he went to London for two weeks to learn filmmaking techniques and upon return founded Phalke Films Company. He imported the hardware required for filmmaking and exhibition from England, France, Germany, and the United States. Phalke shot a short film Ankurachi Wadh (Growth of a Pea Plant) to attract investors for his venture. He published advertisements in various newspapers calling for the cast and crew. As no women were available to play female roles, male actors performed the female roles. Phalke was in charge of scriptment, direction, production design, make-up, film editing, along with film processing. Trymbak B. Telang handled the camera. Phalke completed filming in six months and 27 days producing a film of 3,700 feet (1,100 m), about four reels.
The film premiered at the Olympia Theatre, Bombay, on 21 April 1913, and had its theatrical release on 3 May 1913 at the Coronation Cinematograph and Variety Hall, Girgaon. It was a commercial success and laid the foundation for the film industry in the country. The film is partially lost; only the first and last reels of the film are preserved at the National Film Archive of India. Some film historians believe these belong to a 1917 remake of the film by Phalke titled Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra.
The status of Raja Harishchandra as the first full-length Indian feature film has been debated. Some film historians consider Dadasaheb Torne’s silent film Shree Pundalik, released on 18 May 1912, the maiden Indian film. The Government of India, however, recognises Raja Harishchandra as the first Indian feature film.
A feature film or feature-length film is a narrative film (motion picture or “movie”) with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole presentation in a commercial entertainment programme. The term feature film originally referred to the main, full-length film in a cinema programme that also included a short film and often a newsreel.
Most feature films are between 75 and 210 minutes long. The first narrative feature film was the 60-minute The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906, Australia). The first (proto)-feature-length film adaptation was Les Misérables (1909, US). Other early feature films include L’Inferno, Defence of Sevastopol (1911), Oliver Twist (American version), Oliver Twist (British version), Richard III, From the Manger to the Cross, Cleopatra (1912), Quo Vadis? (1913), Cabiria (1914) and The Birth of a Nation (1915).
Indian Film Industry
Cinema of India consists of films produced in India, where more than 1,800 movies are produced annually. Major centres of film production in the country include Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Amritsar, Kochi, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar-Cuttack, and Guwahati. For a number of years the Indian film industry has ranked first in the world in terms of annual film output. In terms of box office it ranked third in 2019, with total gross of around US$2.7 billion.
Indian cinema is composed of various language film industries. In 2019, the Hindi film industry represented 44% of box office revenue, followed by the Tamil and the Telugu film industries, each representing 13%. Other prominent languages in the Indian film industry include Malayalam and Kannada, representing 5% each, as well as Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Bhojpuri. As of 2020, the combined revenue of all other language film industries has surpassed that of the Hindi film industry, and in 2021, Telugu cinema became the largest film industry of India in terms of box-office.
Indian cinema is a global enterprise and the films have wide viewership and fanbase throughout Southern Asia as well as over 90 countries. Films like Bahubali: The Beginning have been dubbed in many languages, thus starting a Pan-India films movement. Millions of Indians overseas watch Indian films, accounting for 12% of revenue.
Major Indian enterprises in the film industry include Modern Theatres, AVM Productions, Sun Pictures, AGS Entertainment, Geetha Arts, Zee, Mythri Movie Makers, UTV, Suresh Productions, Eros International, Aascar Films, Hombale films, and Yash Raj Films.
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