Raja Harischandra

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‘His association with Laxmi Art Printing Press came to an end.

‘The hard, round-the-clock work he had put in over the 3-color process, the Suvarnamala monthly, and so on, without caring for proper food or sleep, seriously affected his system and his eyesight.

‘We had come to stay at Ismail Building, at Chowpatty, and two of our children were still very small. We were in great difficulties.

‘Medical treatments, and even fasts and rituals on my part, were of no avail in curing his eyesight.

All his friends, like the erstwhile mayor, Nagindas Master, and a few Gujarati businessmen try to persuade him to start a new printing press, naming it Saraswati Printing Press. But Phalke is reluctant to compete with his own earlier creation.


The Phalkes shift to Ismail building at Chowpatty with their two children.

Phalke’s eyesight is deteriorating fast. He is almost blind. All kinds of medical treatment and ritual offerings fail to effect a cure.

During his blindness, his brother-in-law, Anandrao Karandikar, and a playwright, Vitthalrao Shanthalkar, visit him and organize kathas and kirtans. 1912 - ‘RAJA HARISCHANDRA’, THE PLAY

The whole family is at the theatre, watching the play.


Harischandra:

Beloved, why is your beautiful face so unhappy today?

Rani:

Last night I dreamed bad dreams that leave me restless today. I am filled with foreboding…

Harischandra:

Dearest one, women have timid natures. But you are the bravest of women. Why, then, are you laid so low?

Rani:

Lord, I fear for my dear ones.

Harischandra:

I, too, have had bad dreams.

By his efforts, an enraged Brahmin has acquired the power to control all the divine goddesses of knowledge.

And when I took pity on the women and went to rescue them, the Brahmin turned his rage on me.

And when I tried to pacify him, he demanded my whole kingdom in return.

Rani:

Lord, why does such a small thing bother you so much?

Harischandra:

Where will I find him now? How will I eat my daily meal without thinking of his plate?

Rani:

Lord, are you going to embrace the world of dreams as the truth now?

Harischandra:

The world of dreams is untrue in reality. Who can prove this? I gave away my kingdom, even if only in a dream.

Rani:

Forgive me, my lord, we women are ignorant.

Harischandra:

Send out the town crier. Announce that from this day the kingdom belongs to a Brahmin of unknown origins.

Guard:

Your Majesty, an enraged Brahmin is at the door.

Vishwamitra:

So, do you recognize me or not?

Harischandra:

Lord, I feel that we have met somewhere.

Vishwamitra:

True! You of the warrior caste! Why would you remember me? Cheat! Do you remember whom you gave the world away to last night? Wait! You’ll pay for your lies! As my right arm is raised to curse you in anger, the memories of my race tempt me to take my sword and kill you myself. Where is my kingdom?

Harischandra:

What’s the problem? Even before you arrived, I had already transferred to you all that I possess.

Vishwamitra:

And my fee for accepting this grand charity of yours?

Harischandra:

Whatever you want. Chief Minister, bring me a hundred gold coins at once.

Vishwamitra:

Is the treasury still yours, that you order the minister around?

Harischandra:

Forgive me. What if I no longer have any gold. Do I not still have my body?

Vishwamitra:

If I do not receive my fee within a month’s time, I will curse you with the most unbearable suffering.

Harischandra:

I am not as afraid of your wrath as I am of the wrath of righteousness. ‘Then Dr. Prabhakar came like an angel, and restored his eyesight after a year’s treatment.

‘But our economic state was even worse now.

‘The doctor had forbidden him to do reading, photography, etc. for some time, but his temperament would never allow him to sit at rest.

‘He kept writing letters, calling for catalogs, reading photography journals, etc.


By sheer luck, the surgeon Dr. Prabhakar later visits Phalke, and like some ministering angel, restores his eyesight.

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