100 years of Indian Cinema + Silicon Valley

By • May 5th, 2013
Category: Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Bollywood, Film, Hollywood Films, Ideas, India, Technology, YouTube Videos

May 2013 marks the 100th year of Indian cinema. Raja Harishchandra was India’s first feature film that released on  May 3, 1913.  Made by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, this silent film consisted of 4 reels and was not a big hit with the audience in the first few days. But, with some creative marketing Phalke managed to get people to come and see his film. From that first film the Indian cinema has grown to become the biggest film industry in the world. Today films are made in various languages with Hindi (Bollywood) leading the pack followed by regional cinema in Tamil Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Bhojpuri and others.

Before Phalke there were other filmmakers like Hiralal Sen and Dadasaheb Torne who had made short films. But the credit for making India’s first feature film goes to Phalke.  Sadly, the full print of Phalke’s seminal film does not exist and what is left is just a partial film consisting of 2 reels.


In this extended film on Phalke and Raja Harischandra you get a glimpse of how Phalke prepared for the shooting of his first feature film. You see Phalke going about constructing the set, working with his actors and working on his film.


Nearly 100 years later,  filmmaker Paresh Mokashi directed Harishchandrachi Factory (2010) that retold the story of Phalke and how he made made history in Indian cinema. Mokashi’s films went on to become the Oscar entry for India. You can watch Harishchandrachi Factory on Netflix.

But, Phalke’s film would not have been possible had it not been for Eadweard Muybridge and Leland Stanford, who founded Stanford University. Stanford hired photographer Muybridge to settle the burning question of the day if all the four feet of a horse were off the ground when it was trotting. In 1878 Muybridge used a zoopraxiscope to shoot the first photographic motion picture calleSallie Gardner at a Gallop or The Horse in Motion. The rest they say is history.

For a brief time in the early 20th century Niles Canyon in the San Francisco Bay area was a hub for silent cinema. And today, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area is the hub for technologies used in making films right from hardware to editing software from Apple and Adobe to Lucas Films and Pixar.

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One Response »

  1. Great post. Indian cinema has come a long way.

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