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Harishchandrachi Factory (Marathi)

Cast: Nandu Madhav, Vibhawari Deshpande, Mohit Gokhale, Atharva Karve, Dilip Joglekar, Ketan Karande, Dhiresh Joshi, Sandip Pathak, Vaibhav Mangle, Ganesh Mayekar, Ambarish
Deshpande, Pravin Tarde, Mayur Khandge, Gary  Richardson, Gary Tanton
Director: Paresh Mokashi
Producers: Ronnie  Screwvala, Smiti Kanodia, Paresh Mokashi
Story: Paresh Mokashi
Cinematographer:  Amalendu Chaudhary
Music Director: Anand Modak
Banners: UTV Motion  Pictures, Paprika Media

How Dhundiraj Govind Phalke aka Dada Saheb Phalke, later dubbed the Father of Indian Cinema, conceptualised the idea of making the first recorded Indian film, Raja Harishchandra is what Harishchandrachi Factory is all about.

In 1911, after severing his partnership in a printing press, Phalke (Nandu Madhav) happened to watch a film, The Life And Passion Of Christ in a tent theatre. He was inspired and wanted to show Indian Gods on screen. He packed off to London and returned with a camera and knowledge of filmmaking. He roamed around the city of Mumbai trying to find painters, architects, musicians and artistes for his first film, Raja Harishchandra, which he made with the support of his wife Saraswati (Vibhawari Deshpande) and two enthusiastic kids. The film was shown for the first time at the Coronation Theatre in Mumbai on May 13, 1913.

The film is generally an overview of the making of Raja Harishchandra, mostly the lighter moments while casting and rehearsing. There is neither a rags to riches nor any emotional angle. Though the film is in Marathi, it is easy to understand as many visuals are sans dialogue and many are either in Hindi or Marathi.

Performance of every actor is worth appreciating. Nandu Madhav in the lead role of Dadasaheb Phalke is convincing. Vibhawari Deshpande as a very hard working and dutiful wife displays great histrionics. All the child actors are natural.

The narrative is taut. The simple yet courageous nature of Phalke is illustrated by the scene where he goes to one of London’s film production companies without an appointment and directly enters the owner’s room and says, “I want to make an Indian motion picture, can you help?” The confusion and doubts of his friends and society are also reflected well like, for instance, when one old lady is worried that British government will put him behind bars for aping them. Dialogues are well written. The art direction is good. There are situational comic scenes even during a serious situation like when Dadasaheb Phalke has a temporary eyesight loss, his neighbours comment, eyesight will return, but what about his brain damage, referring to his wish of making a motion film.

Paresh Mokashi is a promising director. In his very first attempt, he displays good command over the subject and is focused as instead of making it into a biography; he has concentrated only on two years when Phalke made the first film.

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