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First Indian film `Raja Harishchandra` now available on DVD

Pune: Movie buffs fond of old classics can now watch the first silent film `Raja Harishchandra` in the DVD format.

Produced by legendary Dadasaheb Phalke, the first indigenous film `Raja Harishchandra`, exhibited on May 3, 1913 at the Coronation Cinema in Mumbai, is now being distributed in DVD form by the city-based National Film Archives of India (NFAI), its director Prashant Pathrabe told reporters.

"The decision to make DVDs of the silent movies was taken in view of a long felt need to reach the general masses, who are interested in having an access to the historically significant work of pioneers of Indian cinema," Pathrabe said.

Alongwith it, five other silent movies that marked the beginning of the Indian film industry would also be now available in DVD format, he said.

Embarking on the centenary celebrations of Indian cinema, the NFAI will also make available an assortment of photographs and film posters from its collection which will be sold to general public, he said.

Elaborating on the significance of the first film, produced by the father of Indian cinema which can now be watched by millions at home, Pathrabe said, "`Raja Harishchandra` was made by Phalke overcoming all odds and financial difficulties and also social stigma attached to films a century back.

"He was almost ex-communicated (in Maharashtra). He was unable to seek a heroine for his film and the female characters were enacted by men. One Salunke played the female role of Taramati in this mythological film," the NFAI director said.

"With this film, (`Raja Harishchandra`) Phalke laid the
foundation of the largest film producing country in the world. A man with multiple talents, he began his film career at the late age of 42, made more than 100 films in a span of 20 years and pioneered the film industry in India," he added.

As a one man institution, he trained his actors and technicians, supervised sets, photographed, developed, printed and edited his film and distributed it single-handedly.

"Phalke held a preview of the film like a showman at the Olympus Cinema on April 12, 1913 where the elite of Bombay were invited. The 3,700 feet long first Indian feature film was commercially released on May 3, 1913," Pathrabe added.

Along with `Raja Harishchandra`, the NFAI DVD contains five more films of the silent era namely `Lanka-Dahan`,`Kaliya Mardan`, `Shrikrishna Janma` (all produced by Phalke) and `Jamai Babu` (Bengali) and `Martand Verma` (Malaylam).

Another highlight of the centenary celebrations of Indian Cinema will be screening of the films of Dadasaheb Phalke award winners, which will be done in collaboration with Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pathrabe said.

To mark the occasion, the NFAI has also launched a website, developed to bring film lovers on a common interactive platform where they can post their articles, views and opinions of films and film related issues.

PTI

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