V.S. Apte

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In Phalke Film Company, workers' sala¬ries remained unpaid over long periods, but Dadasaheb's co-workers then had such loyalty that they would not let the company shut down, come what may. Now, however, Dadasaheb found it difficult day by day to sustain the com¬pany and carry on the work with workers' dues in arrears. No solution was in sight. The workers started pressing him for their salary. He was fed up. Annoyed by their attitude, he placed the keys before them and said, "Take this com¬pany and its property in your possession. Sell it and recover your dues. I am ready to leave along with my family with only the clothes we have on. I do not see any other option". Thus we get an idea of how daunting and in what dif¬ferent ways this father of Indian Cinema had to suffer mis¬fortune. In these dire circumstances, it was the compassion¬ate Wamanrao alias Tatyasaheb Apte alone who came to Dadasaheb's rescue. Tatyasaheb was pleased to see the sets erected by Dadasaheb. Although Dadasaheb had left Hindusthan Film Company with the resolve never to return to it, he had no other way but to grasp the helping hand offered by Apte. Just as Apte stood behind Dadasaheb by letting bygones be bygones, Dadasaheb too was compelled to accept Apte's help by allowing the past to bury its dead. Accordingly, Apte took possession of Dadasaheb's studio near Balaji's chawl at Nashik and removed all the goods and effects to Hindusthan Film Company. Workers received their arrears of salary from the Company. Dadasaheb too became a partner of the Company again on some condi¬tions. It was decided to complete Setubandhan at Imperial Film Studio of Mumbai under the banner of Hindusthan Film Company. All staff and effects were transferred to Mumbai. ... Setubandhan had taken two years to complete. By that time, the era of talkies had opened in India by the screening (14th March 1931) of Imperial's Hindi talkie Alam Ara. In a year's time, Ayodhyecha Raja of the foremost Prabhat Film Company and, incidentally, the first talkie in Marathi, was screened (6th February 1932). A week earlier, its Hindi version had been screened. This first talkie of Prabhat was making waves all over India. Sensing that silent movies had now no future and in view of the fact that the fifteen-year agreement with Dadasaheb was coming to an end, Wamanrao Apte decided to dissolve the company. Not only did he pay the workers' salaries to the last paisa, but also gave them a bonus equal to an year's salary and retired hon¬ourably from the cinema industry. A large-hearted director of a film company like him will not be born again.

Excerpted from Bapu Watve’s Dada Saheb Phalke, published by the National Book Trust.

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