Dr.Prabhakar - restores Phalke’s sight

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Image:Page29.jpg in phalke's journey

Phalke returns to India and starts Swarnmala, a Marathi monthly printed in the 3-color process of Gutenberg. 1910

The unrelenting round-the-clock work that Phalke puts in over the 3-color processes of the Swarnmala monthly without caring about food and sleep affects his system and his eyesight.

Differences with Seth Purushottamdas grow day by day and also take their toll on his health. Their relationship becomes bitter over the running of the press. In order to find a new profession for himself, Phalke wanders around Bombay. As the conflict between Seth Purushottamdas and Phalke grows, he decides to leave Laxmi Printing Press. ‘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[[1]]

‘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. ‘Big people again began visiting our house, and there were talks of business. ‘Many of our visitors were Gujaratis.’


‘Sister, do not worry that Laxmi Art has been lost. If Phalke seth wishes, we can raise a Saraswati Art in one day.’


‘Many of us tried to persuade him but he was completely determined.

As he slowly recovers his sight, he takes daily walks on the beach with his young son, Babaraya.

With four annas in his pocket, he goes for his walks and returns late in the evening.

On Easter day, he sees that next to the Girgam Bank Road, at the America-India tent theaters a film is being shown, ‘The Life of Christ’.

It shows the birth, miracles, trials, sufferings, burial, resurrection and the ascension of Christ.

While the film is unspooling before his eyes, he mentally visualizes the gods, Shri Krishna, Shri Rama, their Gokul and Ayodhya.

He finds himself in the grip of a strange spell. He buys another ticket and sees the film again.[[2]]

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