1886- 1890 THE MASTER

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The next day, Phalke is taken to meet Prof. Gujjar, Principal of Kala Bhuvan, the technical institute under the royal patronage of HH the Gaekwad of Baroda.


"Forty years ago, I was a student of Kala Bhuvan when Prof. Gujjar was the Principal.

Being pleased with my work in drawing, painting, photography and modeling, Prof. Gujjar not only gave me a scholarship, but was also kind enough to allow me free use of Kala Bhuvan laboratory and studio The product of such facilities and the knowledge I gained in Kala Bhuvan was ‘Phalke’s Photo-engraving and Photo-printing Works.’ The work of this firm was highly appreciated even by foreigners. Mr. W. Ray was the only other person to have a studio of this sort in India at the time.

Let me tell you, my young Kala Bhuvanians..."


Seeing extraordinary talent in Phalke, Prof. Gujjar puts him in charge of Kala Bhuvan’s photography studio where Phalke makes several experiments in photochemical processes.

He spends days and nights at the Sir Sayaji Rao library, reading 'Photography depends upon two basic operations - the formation of an image on a flat surface by an optical device, and a chemical method of sensitizing that surface to light so that the image can be captured permanently.

‘The first requirement was met by camera obscura, known since the 16th century and used by artists as an aid to sketching.

‘Wedgwood was the first one to make a light-sensitive material when, in about 1800, he treated white leather and paper with silver salt. He used this technique to make prints of leaves and transparent paintings.

‘The first permanent image produced directly by light was made by Nicephore Niepce in 1823 on a bitumen-coated pewter plate exposed for eight hours. ‘In 1839, Daguerre demonstrated the Daguerrotype in which silver surface on a copper plate was sensitized with iodine vapor.

‘Now Daguerre, when he took over Niepce’s invention, was running the Panorama Theatre animated by light shows and movements in the Place du -----

The camera obscura had generated at one and the same time painting, photography and the diorama.

The wet plates require speed, the luck of an alchemist, and the dexterity of an acrobat. Having shot the picture, you return to the dark room, prepare the dark plate, clean it with cotton and brushes, coat it with viscous collodion, immerse it in silver nitrate solution, recover the exposed plate from the camera, and immerse the plate in developer


Phalke also comes into contact with Shankar Moro Ranade, a dramatist who is about to perform ‘Winter Tales’ and his own play ‘Veni Samhar’ at the Maharaja’s palace.

To train his voice, Ranade sends Phalke to the Maulabux Musical School for training in music. Baroda was the place where I could get the technical and fundamental appliances for film production.

"The great Marathi dramatist, Mr. Shankar Moro Ranade, was my preceptor in the dramatic art. The inquisitive and far-reaching eye of the late Babasaheb (Mr. Ranade) marked out my genius as a poet and an actor

The work of the director of the ‘Veni Samhar’ drama performed by the Baroda College had naturally fallen to my lot. I had a sweet melodious voice, and received full scientific instruction in the Maulabux Musical School of Baroda. I had some interest in magic also. The pursuit of these arts did cause a gap of some years in my study of photography. My magical feats were, however, highly appreciated by all and I used to perform them in the presence of thousands of spectators. On a darkened stage, a large blank canvas was illuminated by limelight.

As he made passes with his right hand, the canvas gradually and mysteriously gave birth to a brighter and brighter painting, Raja Ravi Verma reproduction. I had, however, never intended to be Prof. Phalke the Magician, and soon returned to my original work."


The results are announced at Kala Bhuvan.

Dada stands first and is offered a scholarship.

After consulting Prof. Gujjar, he buys his first still camera with the first installment of his scholarship.

1889 - BRAHMAGIRI, TRIMBAKESHWAR, SOURCE OF THE GODAVARI / GANGA click to read further

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