My blog has been on a breather for a month almost. I have moved to Mumbai and hence the break.
Well, I saw Harishchandrachi Factory in the intervening period and I must say it is one of the best movies ever made. Why I say so?
Look at the topic - How was the first movie in India made? 100% documentary material. And what do the movie makers do? They do magic!
They make a 100% entertaining package that has loads of 24-carat comedy and information. It does not dilute the challenge that Phalke had to overcome in his endeavour to bring "Drama on the screen".
So it begins with Phalke and his son going to a movie screening in British Mumbai. And they are mesmerised. Then begins the story of Phalke's restless mind in getting cinema to India. His family stands by him and he is shown as a loving husband and father. But he is a crazy innovator.
In that he almost loses his eyesight, people call him a lunatic, he sells of most of his property, he moves to a remote suburb (if you know Mumbai well, listen to the behind the back comment about Dadar made by Phalke's neighbour and you will know what I am saying :) ) and other such incidents.
Then there are the challenges of convincing people about lending money for his creative work, travelling to London (and finding vegetarian food there), bringing back the equipment, finding actresses for the lead role and so on.
It is all magical. You are transported back by a 100 years. The production is fantastic - Mumbai has never been shot so beautifully. The lines are very very witty. The actors, especially Phalke's family, have done a fabulous job.
And interestingly, as you laugh at the comic lines or things happening on screen, you start realising how difficult it must have been for Phalke to make a movie at a time when it was not even a concept. So what could easily have been a serious documentary or a movie that is more on the offbeat track, the movie makers have produced a fine entertaining comedy that makes sure you are engrossed in making of the first movie of Raja Harishchandra!
This line of Ashok Kumar from Mr. India is somewhat similar, "Imagine telling Emperor Akbar that you can talk to anyone in the world on telephone!"
And I recommend this movie to even those who do not speak/understand Marathi. The whole movie is self-explanatory.
Rating - 4*.
Link to IMDB site