Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

WEB NEWS

NSA targets 'Tor' network users

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users call for peace in Gaza

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French government hopes to collect €1.8bn from foreign accounts

Read more

  • Video: Slaviansk mourns mass grave victims

    Read more

  • Thousands gather in Marseille in support of Israel

    Read more

  • Video: Ethiopia turns to wine to boost image, economy

    Read more

  • As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

    Read more

  • The centenary of Austria-Hungary’s calamitous last hurrah

    Read more

  • France honours those lost on Air Algérie Flight AH5017

    Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • Nibali joins elite group with Tour de France win

    Read more

  • France calls on its nationals to leave Libya as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Boko Haram kidnap Cameroon minister's wife in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr festival

    Read more

  • ‘Irresponsible’ American dad tries to scale Mont Blanc with children

    Read more

  • Ukraine fighting prevents observers from accessing MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Crowds flock to enjoy the Tour de France show

    Read more

  • Netanyahu says Hamas 'violating its own ceasefire'

    Read more

  • Video: At the scene of the Air Algérie crash in Mali

    Read more

  • Costa Concordia arrives in port of Genoa to be scrapped

    Read more

  • In pictures: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Russia lashes out at new EU sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Syrian army and ISIS both claim advances

    Read more

  • Briton kidnapped in Yemen freed after five months

    Read more

  • New round of Gaza ceasefire talks takes place in Paris

    Read more

Culture

The silent film that launched 100 years of Bollywood

© Wikimedia Commons

Text by Sam Ball

Latest update : 2013-05-03

Today, the Bollywood film industry produces thousands of films a year, seen by millions around the world. But it all started with a humble black-and-white silent movie screened for the first time 100 years ago this Friday.

Friday marked 100 years since the opening of the first ever Indian-made feature film, whose release is regarded as the birth of the country’s huge movie industry known as Bollywood.

Modern Bollywood films are often characterised by their vibrant and elaborate song and dance numbers, dramatic story lines - usually involving themes such as love triangles, scandal, family conflicts, sacrifice and redemption - and running times often exceeding three hours.

But the film that began it all was extremely modest in comparison. Raja Harishchandra, directed by Dadasaheb Phalke and first shown on May 3, 1913 in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, was a humble black-and-white silent production with a running time of about 50 minutes.

Nevertheless, many of the modern Bollywood themes are still evident. Based on an epic Hindu tale, Raja Harishchandra is the story of a noble king (Harishchandra) who sacrifices his kingdom, wife and son to fulfill his promise to the revered Indian sage Vishwamitra.

Impressed by his ideals, the gods declare him to be the living embodiment of truth and restore him to his former regal glory.

The film was an instant success, with crowds of bystanders gathering around the cinema to witness the first screening. It went on to become a hit across India, with audiences seemingly not put off by the fact that all female roles in the film were played by men – since women actors were widely frowned upon at the time.

Phalke, who started out as a small-town photographer, became an icon in India, going on to make 95 feature films up to his death in 1944 at the age of 73. He would become known as the father of Indian cinema, with India’s most prestigious film prize - The Dadasaheb Phalke Award - named after him.

Today, Bollywood is bigger than ever, producing almost 1,500 movies in 2012. According to figures from consultancy KPMG, the value of the Indian film industry is expected to grow from $2 billion to $3.6 billion over the next five years.

And its influence is no longer just limited to the Indian subcontinent, with the fashion, music and dance of Bollywood increasingly infiltrating Western culture.

Recent films such as Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge have taken a large dose of inspiration from Indian cinema, while the pop-music scene is also getting in on the act, as evidenced by Selena Gomez’s Bollywood-inspired performance at April’s MTV Movie Awards.

Meanwhile, in recognition of Bollywood’s centenary, India will be honoured as “guest country” at this month's Cannes Film Festival in France.

Date created : 2013-05-03

  • CINEMA

    India celebrates 100 years of Bollywood

    Read more

  • FRANCE - INDIA

    French culture minister invites Bollywood to the Alps

    Read more

  • HURRIYET DAILY NEWS

    French film company uncovers footage of 1890s Turkey

    Read more

COMMENT(S)