A minute agoAuthor: Ifat Qureshi
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History was created on 18 May 1912 when the first Indian film, Shri Pundalik was released at the Coronation Cinema in Mumbai. However, this thing is not recorded anywhere in the history of Indian cinema. The only reason was that the person shooting the film was a foreigner and the negative reel was sent abroad for processing.
This film was produced by Dadasaheb Torne. Along with this, he was also the first Indian to do film distribution, film editing, film direction and film production. Although this credit is still given to Dadasaheb Phalke, whose film was released a year later in 1913.
Torne used to do machine repairing work, but being influenced by foreign films, he made a film in India itself. Such was his passion for camera and films that he had a heart attack when his camera was stolen.
Today, on the 133rd birth anniversary of Dadasaheb Torne, read the story of India’s first film being made, released and controversies related to it-
Relatives had thrown them out of the house after the father’s death.
Dadasaheb Torne was born on 13 April 1890 in Konkan, Maharashtra. When the father passed away at the age of 3, the uncle threw him out of the house. The homeless grandfather and his mother lived in poverty. When he was 10 years old, he had to leave his studies to run the house. He reached Mumbai in search of work where he got a job in Cotton Green Electric Company. Here he learned to operate different types of machines.
The idea of making his own film came under the influence of foreigners
While working in the company, Dada Shripad came in contact with the theater company. The 21-year-old Dada got the idea of making his own film after watching daily plays and films coming from abroad. He sought help from his friend Chitre who could help him financially in this work. Pictures used to get films from abroad and show them in India and also used to get cameras.
Dadasaheb Torne made the film Shree Pundalik on the mythological character Pundalik.
Dadasaheb Torne ordered a camera from a foreign company by paying 1000 rupees. No one in India knew how to operate this camera, so they called an operator. The film Sri Pundalik was based on a play. Due to the lack of technology and facilities, in 1912, video could be recorded only at one go by simply placing it in one place. Dada also did the same.
He set up the camera and prepared the script at a theater in Grant Road, Mumbai. A foreigner named Johnson operated the camera, as no one in India knew how to operate it. The camera was fixed at one place and the entire play was recorded.
When the shooting was over, he experimented with unhappiness
Dadasaheb Torne was unhappy to see the film shot in one go. They decided to shoot the play again, but this time in different parts. The film was shot in several different pieces instead of in one shot. Dada put those parts together himself, making him India’s first film editor.
Dadasaheb Torne is also the one who started film editing in India. Dada gave fees to every artist seen in the film and took care of their expenses. At the same time there was a shortage of money, but he continued the production by taking a loan. When the shooting was over, its negative reel was sent to London, where it was processed.
History created on 18 May 1912
India’s first feature film Shri Pundalik was released on 18 May 1912 at the Coronation Cinema in Mumbai. It was a 22-minute feature film. During the release of the film, its first ad was published in The Times of India.
For promotion, it was written in the newspaper that half of Mumbai’s population has seen the film, the remaining half of the population must also watch this film. The effect of this advertisement was that the film continued to run in theaters for about 3 weeks.
Dadasaheb Torne is India’s first filmmaker, director, special effect person, editor, sound recorder.
When the company sent from Mumbai to Karachi, it became India’s first distributor
When Shri Pundalik was released in 1912, he was working in the Greaves Cotton Company. After the movie release, the company sent him to Karachi. There he met a young man named Baburao Pai, with whom he opened a small office. It became India’s first distributor office, where Hollywood films were sourced and released in local cinema halls.
Dadasaheb Torne who started film making in India
Returning to Mumbai after 3 to 4 years, Dadasaheb Torne started a movie camera company, where he imported and sold video cameras and film making equipment from abroad. With the help of his company, there was a big change in film making and his business also took off.
In 1929, he formed a joint venture with Baburao Pai, Famous Pictures, a film distribution company. In those days, this company used to do business of lakhs by distributing silent films.
Poster made for the promotion of the film Shree Pundalik.
Dada Saheb Torne is the man who brought talkie films in India
While earning profits from the film distribution company, Dadasaheb Torne had understood that the trend of films in India would continue to grow every year. He started showing Hollywood talkies in India. Then in the changing times, he himself took training in sound equipments to make a talkie film abroad. After coming to India, he suggested Ardeshir Irani to make India’s first talkie film Alam Ara and helped him.
Secretly made first talking film
Dadasaheb Torne wanted the concept of making a talkie film to be kept a secret in the beginning, so he made Alam Ara secretly. The film was completed in two months and released on 14 March 1931 at The Majestic Cinema Theatre.
India’s first talkie film Alam Ara created history and once again Dadasaheb Torne’s business started running. He got all the equipments related to sound technology imported from abroad and distributed them to the big production companies of that era Prabhat, Ranjit, Wadia. The era of silent films came to an end with the introduction of sound films.
The first talkie film was produced by the Imperial Movietone Company. At that time Dadasaheb Torne was the manager of that company.
Started his production house and made 17 films
Dadasaheb Torne started his production house Saraswati Cinetone in Pune to make films on social issues rather than entertainment. The first film of this production, Sham Sundar was a tremendous hit. The second film Out Ghatakechha Raja was the first film in India to feature double roles. This production house made about 17 films in Hindi, Marathi language, most of which were hits.
Copies of the film burnt, studio sold
With the changing times, films of other productions started becoming hits and Dadasaheb Torne reduced making films. There used to be only one copy of his films, which was shown in every city. Most of the films were destroyed due to fire in the reels.
Studio had to be sold due to poverty
In 1944, Dadasaheb Torne sold his studio to a man named Ahmed due to financial crunch. That person sold this studio to Chakan Oil Meal and himself went to Pakistan in partition. Today there is Kumar Pacific Mall at the same place.
The reels of almost all the films made by Dadasaheb Torne have been burnt.
Betrayed between partition and riots
At the time of partition of India-Pakistan in 1947, many Muslims were going to Pakistan. Meanwhile, a close Muslim friend of Dada stole all his expensive equipment and fled to Pakistan. A friend had taken Dada Saheb’s camera and all the necessary things.
This deception shocked Dada so much that he immediately got a heart attack. With the help of his mother, his loss was compensated, but the grandfather, who was badly broken, stopped making films. He took retirement from films. On January 19, 1960, Dada did not wake up from his sleep.
Made the first film, but why did not get the credit of the father of Hindi cinema
Film historians believe that the film Shri Pundalik, released in 1912, was a photographic recording of a play. At the same time, its cameraman Johnson was also of British origin. In such a situation, this film will not be called Indian. While Raja Harishchandra, released 1 year later in 1913, was produced and recorded by Dadasaheb Phalke himself, in such a situation Dadasaheb Phalke will be called the father of Indian cinema.
The family members of Dadasaheb Torne filed a petition in the Bombay High Court in 2013, saying that he should be given the credit of the father of Hindi cinema. This petition has been filed by Dadasaheb’s son Anil Torne, daughter-in-law Mangla Torne and Vikas Patil, associate of the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association.
Dada Saheb Torne was called the father of Hindi cinema in the world record
Even though Dadasaheb Phalke has been called the father of Hindi cinema in the history of Hindi cinema, but this record in the Guinness Book of World Records is in the name of Dadasaheb Torne. He has also been considered as the father in the books A Pictorial History of Indian Cinema and Marathi Cinema.