Witnessing the Birth
Ratings: * * * * ½
The cinema industry is flourishing in India since close to a hundred years. Thousands and thousands of films have been made in a number of languages and genres. But ever wondered how the gates of the Indian film industry were opened and by whom? Paresh Mokashi’s Harishchandrachi Factory enlightens on the birth of Indian cinema. The end result is an exciting journey of the Father of Indian Cinema, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (respectfully known as Dadasaheb Phalke) – the person who made cinema possible in India.
Right from the time he saw a movie for the first time, Phalke became eager to make a movie himself and join the filmmaking profession. However, he possesses zero knowledge about the art of filmmaking. His eagerness to learn and master the art triggers his journey to make India’s first motion picture. He receives moral, practical and emotional support from his wife Saraswati (Vibhawari Deshpande). Phalke doesn’t even hesitate to go to London by putting his financial future at stake.
The uniqueness about Harishchandrachi Factory is the feel-good factor throughout. Although this is a story of a struggler, Mokashi, as a writer, has added humor in each and every scene and that too in the most simplest of situations. He proves that one doesn’t always need slapstick and sarcastic jokes to make people laugh. Even simple and clean humor can produce hundreds of rib-tickling moments.
To direct a movie about a movie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and Mokashi shows that the cup is certainly his. He has shown every aspect of filmmaking from story idea to script preparation, from reel development to camera operation, from cast selection to scene narration and finally, from the final shoot to the actual screening. During all this, the goings doesn’t appear like a documentary or a learning activity even for a minute. However, amidst all the fun, there should have been more footage to the struggling factor considering it was a daunting task for India’s first filmmaker.
Art Director Nitin Desai produces a visual treat by building sets which take you back to the 1911-1913 era. In fact, Desai’s work makes sure that the art direction turns out to be one of the main characters of the movie.
Nandu Madhav in the central role of Dadasaheb Phalke is tremendous and flawless. The film would not have looked so beautiful if Phalke’s character was not played with conviction but Madhav takes full care that doesn’t happen as he oozes perfection in every frame. Vibhawari Deshpande (Savitri) and the rest of the actors playing the film crew and the neighbors give sound performances too.
It would be unfair to label Harishchandrachi Factory as a Marathi movie. It’s one of those rare films which crosses all language and cultural barriers. And if you like cinema, you will love this one.