Raja Harishchandra: The First Bollywood Film Ever Made

Raja Harishchandra is a classic Indian silent movie, it was made in 1913 and directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke. Directly translated it means “King Harishchandra” and was inspired by the movie The Life of Christ made in 1906. 

Phalke watched The Life of Christ in 1911 and it moved him. He had toyed with dreams of film making and producing but had allowed his background and location to hinder him from following his dreams. In 1912 he travelled to London where he was able to shadow some producers and directors and taught himself some of the most basic film making and producing skills.

 This was a transformative time for Phalke as he went forth into the world of silent movies, a world dominated by the West with very little acceptance of his race, culture, and ideas. He founded his own film company called Phalke Films Company and quickly set himself up with the materials needed for shooting a movie by importing film making equipment from all over the world.

Cast And Storyline

Casting the available roles in the film came with its own major challenges. Due to the times, females were not allowed to act, the idea of an Indian woman acting in a movie during this time was outrageous and wasn’t considered for a moment. This meant that all the parts, male and female would be played by men. He put some adverts into the local newspapers, calling for actors and crew from make-up to editing. 

He didn’t receive the response he was hoping for and this left Phalke overseeing and often doing the tasks of scripting, direction, production design, make-up, film editing, and film processing. Filming this historic film took a total of six months and 27 days. The final product was a movie of 1,100 meters in size which is the equivalent to about 4 reels.

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The storyline of King Harishchandra is a dramatic story full of betrayal, a damsel in distress, trials, tribulations, and redemption. The story follows King Harishchandra who comes to the rescue of a random woman in distress who is being held captive while a sage tries to extract her light (3 powers) against her will.  

When he gets back to the palace he informs his wife, Queen Taramati of what has just happened, and the sage then sends the King, Queen, and their son into exile. While in exile the family experiences death, murder, trial, redemption, teachings of integrity and rebirth. It is a touching story with many lessons and leaves the viewer with much to ponder.

A Film That Led The Way

This iconic movie was as rewarding as an online casino sign up bonus. It holds a major responsibility in the now-booming Indian film industry. Bollywood is a unique and massive part of the Indian culture and has taught Western society so much about Indian tradition. The industry has shifted and grown in many ways since this movie was made, but it still holds its place firmly in the rich Bollywood history as the first Indian movie ever made.