The Firsts of Indian Cinema
Milestones from 1896-1951
Though film production commenced in India in 1913, it is necessary to record the progress of the film business from 1896, the historical year when Lumiere Bros' films were exhibited at Watson Hotel in Mumbai. This was the forerunner of the film industry in India; as it held many future technicians spellbound, and went on to encourage the making of the motion picture in India.
1896 First Cinema Show
The first Cinema show in India was arranged by the agents of two French brothers, Louis and August Lumiere, pioneers of the Cinematography in France, at the Watson Hotel in Bombay on July 7, 1896 and the show was Marvel of the Century.
First Cinema Advertisement The first cinema advertisement in India appeared in the Times of India, Bombay on July 7, 1896, which carried details of the “Living Photographic pictures in life-size reproductions by Messrs Lumiere Brotheres.
First Indian to handle a cine camera Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatvadekar alias Save Dada was the first Indian to import a Cine-camera from London at a price of 21 guineas and made a topical in 1897. He filmed a wrestling bout between Pundalik and Krishna Nhavi, which was specially arranged at the Hanging Gardens in Bombay.
First Bioscope Prof. Stevenson brings “first Bioscope” to Calcutta at the Star Theatre. “Panorama of Calcutta”- an early Indian coverage by foreign cameramen.
Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatvadekar ( Save Dada), a photo goods dealer, turns exhibitor and film maker.
First Indian Film
“Return of Wrangler Paranjapee”- first Indian Actually Film shot by Bhatvadekar. Hiralal Sen stars working in Bengal by filming extracts from stage-plays.
1902 J.F. Madan (1856-1926) launches his bioscope show in a tent at Calcutta Maidan.
First Cinema show on regular basis
Manek D Sethna, who owned a cinema project, started a touring cinema with the screening of the first film “ Life of Christ” on a regular basis in Bombay in 1904. Abdulally Essofally, enterprising showman, makes the masses movie-conscious, takes up exhibition as a regular business proposition.
The First Cinema hall in India as built by J.F. Madan in Calcutta in 1907 and it was named Elphinstone Picture Palace.
First Mini Feature Film
After filming the Imperial Darbar of 1911, three business partners S.N. Patankar Anantram Parshuram Karandikar and V.P. Divekar who had earlier purchased the cine camera from Save Dada, produced the first mini-feature film (about 1,000 feet) “Savitri” in 1912. Narmada Mande, a young lady from Ahmedabad, K G Gokhale and divekar himself featured in the leading roles of the film, which could not see the screen due to several technical reasons and flaws.
First Theatrical film
Shreepad Sangit Mandali, a professional theatre group of Bombay, was performing a theatre play “pundalik” during 1911 in Bombay. Narayan Govind Chitre alias Nana Bhai Chita of India Press, Bombay sought help from R.P. Tipnis, Manager of Corontion Cinematograph, and decided to picturise the stageplay Pundalik. They took R.G. Torney alias Dada Saheb Torney, along with them to direct the proposed film. M/s Bourne and Shepherd, a British concern, took keen interest in the venture and joined hands with the promoters by providing them a cameraman, Johnson to shoot the film at Mangaldas Wadi in Bombay. The film also named “PUNDALIK” was exhibited on May 18, 1912 at Coronation Cinematography, Bombay.
First Foreign-Returned Indian Cine-Technician
Dadasaheb Phalke was the first foreign returned Indian cine- technician who learned filmcraft from Cecil Hepworth, a prominent producer at Walton in England, for about a week in February 1912, March 1912.
First City of Film Production
Bombay was the first city in India where film production started in 1912
First Indian feature film
RAJA HARISHCHANDRA was the first Indian feature film produced by an Indian, with out any foreign collaboration, Dadasaheb Phalke in 1912. The film was however released on May 3, 1913 at Coronation Cinematograph, Bombay.
Dadasaheb Phalke, who released his first film RAJA HARISHCHANDRA ON May 3, 1913, was the first film producer of India.
First “Heroine” of Indian Film The first heroine for Indian film was not a female but a young boy. Salunke, who acted as Taramati in India's first feature film “Raja Harishchandra”.
First Female Heroine
Kamala, a Maharashtrian lady, was the first female heroine in an Indian film with her lead role in Dadasaheb Phalke's second film “Bhasmasur Mohini” produced in 1913. Kamala's mother Durgabai also featured in the film.
Dattatraya Damodar Dabke was the first hero of an Indian film. He acted as Harishchandra in “Raja Harishchandra” in 1913.
First Artiste playing as both hero & heroine
Salunke, acted as both Ram and Seeta, In Phalke's fifth film” Lanka Dahan” produced in 1917.
Dadasaheb Phalke was not only the film producer but also the first director, writer, cameraman, make-up man, editor, art director and cine-laboratorian, with his first film “Raja Harishchandra”.
First Indian feature film shown Abroad
“Raja Harishcnadra” was the first Indian Film which was shown on percentage basis in London in 1914.
First feature film from Bengal
J.F. Madan produced Bengal first, feature film “Nal Damyanti” in 1917. This film had two Italians, namely, Signor and Signora Manelli in the leading roles. A new actress Patience Cooper was also introduced in the film. The film was photographed by cameraman Jyotish Sarkar.
First Act to regulate cinema
The first Act which regulated and controlled the Indian film industry was enacted in 1918 and it was known as Indian Cinematograph Act 1918.
First Indian Serial
S. N. Patankar's “Exile of Shri Rama” was the first Indian Serial.
First Hollywood-trained Indian
Suchet Singh was the first Hollywood-trained Indian who had taken training in cinema technique in America and had worked as an associated under Charlie Chaplin in 1918. He returned by the end of 1918 and formed the Oriental Film Manufacturing Company Ltd. which produced its maiden film “shakuntala” in 1920.
First silent feature film from South India
R. Nataraja Mudaliar of Madras made “ Keechaka Vadham” the first silent feature film from South India.
First Female Child Star
Manadakini, daughter of Dadasaheb Phalke, was the first female child star, who featured as the child Krishna in Phalke's “Kaliya Mardan” produced by Hindustan cinema Film Company in 1919.
First Indian Made Cine-Camera
Anandrao Painter of Kolhapur was the first Indian to make a cine-camera with the help of an old cine-projector and he shot a comic film around 1918. After his death, his brother Baburao Painter produced his first film “Sairandhiri” under the banner of Maharashtra Film Company in 1919 with the help of this Indian camera.
First Film Distributor
Dadasaheb Phalke was distributing his films himself. But this business was first handled in a proper manner by R. G. Torney in 1919 under the name and style of M/s Western Movies.
First title bestowed upon any film personality
Baburao Painter was the first film personality who was bestowed with the title of Cinema Kesari by Lokmanya Tilak in 1919 after seeing his silent film “Sairandhri” produced by Maharashtra Film Company.
First Cinema Poster
Baburao Painter was the first man to advertise his film “Vatsala Haran” through cinema posters as a publicity campaign in 1920.
First Film Censor Board
For the first time Boards of Film Censors were set up in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Rangoon in 1920 and later on at Lahore in 1927.
First feature film from South
The first feature film produced in South India was “Bhishma Pratigna” produced by R. Venkiah and R. Prakash of Stars of the East Film Company, Madras in 1921.
First Social Satire
Dhiren Ganguly made “ England Returned”, the first social satire on an Indian obsessed with Western ideas, “Vali Thirumanam” made in Madras by Whittakar, is critically ac claimed and is also a box-office success.
First Artificial Lights
Baburao Painter was the first man in India to use artifical lights while making his film “Sinhagad” in 1921.
First Levy of Entertainment Tax
The first levy of Entertainment Tax was o,[psed om Nemga; om 1922 and later on in Bombay in 1923 at 12 -1/2 percent.
First Lady Director
The first lady director in India was Begum Fatima Sultana (wife of the Nawab of Sachien State), mother of Princess, Zubeida, star of “Alam Ara”. Begum Fatima not only acted but produced and directed several silent films including “Bulbule Paristan” “Goddess of Luck”, “Chandravati” and Milan Dinar”
First Cinema Trade Organisation
The Bombay Cinema and Theatres Trade Association, formed around 1926, was the first cinema trade organization in India. After sometime the Indian Motion Picture Association was also formed in Bombay. The Madras Cinema and Theatre League was formed in Madras in 1929. However, actual trade activities started only after the formation of the Motion Picture Society of India in Bombay in June 1932
First Independent Film Processing Laboratory
The first Independent Film Processing laboratory was setup by Narayanrao Alias Dhanjibhai K. Desai in Bombay in October 1927. It was known as Atmanand Labortory.
First Indian Cinematograph Enquiry Committee
The Govt. of India appointed the first Indian Cinematograph Enquiry Committee on 6 th October 1927. The Indian Cinematograph Committee, set up under the Chairmanship of Dewan Bahudar T. Rangachariar; J.C. Daniel makes first Malayalam film “Vigada Kumaran” “Exceptional Young Man”.
First Double Role
Master Vithal was the first actor who portrayed a double role in a feature film “Prisoner of Love” produced by Sharda Film Company in 1927. The company owned by Nanubhai Desai and Bhogilal K.M. Dave, was founded in 1925.
First Talkies Short Production in India
J.F. Madan and J.J. Madan of Madan Theates Ltd., Calcutta had received their sound equipment from America and they started producing as well as exhibiting sound films in India. They released a two reeler sound film in their talkies cinema, Elphinstone Picture Palace, Calcutta, in 1929.
First Talkie Feature Film Shown in India
The first Talkie Feature film shown in India was Universal's “Melody of Love” in English, which celebrated its premiere at Elphinstone Picture Palace in Calcutta in 1929.
First Talkie Shorts released in Bombay
Some talkie shorts produced by Madan Theatres Ltd. , Calcutta and Krishan Film Company, Bombay; were released for the first time in the Lamingrone and Empress Cinemas in Bombay on February 4, 1931.
First Indian Talkie feature film
The first full length talkie feature film produced in India was “ ALAMARA ” Light of the World in Hindustani, produced by Ardeshir M. Irani of Imperial Film Company, Bombay. It was released at the Majestic Cinema, Bombay, on March 14, 1931.
First Talkie from Bengal
The first talkie film from Bengal was “ JAMAI SASTHI ” in Bengali produced by Madan Theatres Ltd. in 1931.
First Tamil Talkie
Sagar Movietone's “ KALIDASS ” was the first Tamil feature film starring T.P. Rajalakshmi and directed by H.M. Reddi. The film with Tamil dialogue and Telugu songs was released in Madras on October 31, 1931.
First Talkie Film Distributor
Talkie film distribution came into existence with the advent of talkie film in 1931. Sagar Movietone, founded by Chimanlal Desai, stated the business of distribution by taking the distribution of India's first Talkies “ALAM ARA ” in 1931.
“De de khuda ke naam par” was the first song recorded for “Alam Ara” in 1931. it was sung by W.M. Khan under the music direction of Phiroz Shah.
First Music Director
Phiroz Shah Mistry was the first music director of the talkie film “Alam Ara”.
First Advertising Film Company
Niranjan Pal of Publicity/Drammatic Film Co. (1931) was the first Indian to introduce the advertising film production and business in India in 1931.
First Talkie film from Punjab
“ HEER RANJAH ” in Hindi was the first talkie feature film from Punjab. It was produced by Hakim Ram Prasad on Play Art Photophone Company in 1932. This talkie film was censored by the Punjab Board.
First Marathi Film
Prabhat Film Company's “AYODHECHA RAJA” Directed by V.Shantaram in 1932 was the first Marathi film which starred Durga Khote.
First Double Version talkie
“AYODHYECHA RAJA” in Marathi and “Ayodhya Ka Raja” in Hindi were the first double version talkie films produced by Prabhat Film Company in 1932.
First Talkie which celebrated Silver Jubliee
“SHYAMSUNDER” in Marathi, produced by Dadasaheb Torne of Saraswati Cinetone and directed by Bhal G. Pendarkar was the first Indian talkie which celebrated silver jubilee by running for 27 weeks at the West End Cinema in Bombay in 1932. First Talkie Film on Fidelytone Sound System Eastern Film's “Shikari” in Hindi was the first talkie film with sound recorded on the Fidelytone Sound System brought into India by a foreign film unit in1932.
First Film With Maximum Songs
Madan Theatres “Indra Sabha” in 1932 is the only film produced so far with a record number of 71 songs. Madan's other three films “ CHATRABAKAVALI ”, “Guru Zarina” and “Bilwamangal” Produced in 1932 had 41, 37 songs respectively, Meenakshi Cinetone's “Pavalakkodi”, produced in 1934, had 50 songs while Angle Film's Tamil hit “Sri Hrishna Leela” in 1934 had 62 songs.
First Film With Background Music
New Theatre's “Chandidas” in Bengali was the first talkie film in which “Background” music was scored by music director R.C. Boral in 1932. Prabhat Film Company's “Amrit Manthan” released at almost the same time also had imaginative background music scored by music director Keshavrao Bhole.
First Air-Conditioned Cinema
First air-conditioned cinema Regal started in Bombay.
First Colour Film
Prabhat Film Company's “Sairandhri” was the first talkie film produced in Multicolour in 1933. However, as the colour quality was not satisfactory Imperial Film Company's “KISAN KANYA ” produced in 1937 is considered as the first colour film. Minerva Movietone's “Jhansi Ki Rani” was the first technically perfect Technicolour film directly shot on 35mm in 1953.
First Film shot in Ellora Caves
Gandharva Cinetone was, the first film company to utilize the famous Ellora Caves in their talkie film “Sati Mahananda” in 1933, written and directed by Baburao Patel. First Talkie released in England “Karma” (Fate) in which Devika Rani co-starred with Himansu Rai was an Anglo-Indian co-production and had a premiere of its English version in London in May 1933. The Hindi version of the film was premiered at Bombay on January 27, 1934.
First Talkie shown at Venice Film Festival The Bengali talkie film “Seeta”, directed by Debaki Bose, was the first Indian talkie film shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1934
First Talkie Produced in South
“Srinivas Kalyanam” in Tamil was the first talkie produced in the South by Srinivas Cinetone and directed by A.Narayanan in Madras in 1934. It featured R.B. Lakshmi Devi in the main role. First Telugu Film from South The first Telugu talkie produced by South Indian Technicians entirely in the South, in Madras, was “Seetha Kalyanam” produced by P.V. Das at the Vel Pictures Studio. Starring Rama Tilakam in the main role in 1934.
First Cartoon Film
For the first time a cartoon short was made by Messrs. Ketkar and Raosaheb Oak in 1933. Prabhat Film Company also announced a cartoon film “Jambu Kaka” but on hearing this news R.C. Boral of New Theatres started his own Cartoon film “ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT” and completed it within one month and released it even before the completion of “Jambu Kaka”. However, “Jambu Kaka” was released at the Majestic Cinema, Bombay, on November 15, 1934 along with “Amrit Manthan”.
First Hindi Talkie to celebrate Silver Jubilee
Prabhat Film company's “Amirt Manthan” was the first talkie in Hindi which celebrated Silver Jubilee at Krishna Talkies, Bombay, by running for 29 weeks at a stretch in 1934.
Playback's was introduced in the talkie “ Bhagya Chakra” (Dhoop Chaon) produced by New Theatres in 1935 and Bombay talkie ‘Milan' B/W. Music Director R.C. Boralhad composed the music for the film.
First All India Motion Picture Convention
The first All India Motion Picture convention was held in Bombay on February 20, 1935 under the auspices of the Motion Picture Society of India headed by Mr. B.V. Jadhav. The Parsi Panchayat took strong objection to Parsi Music Director Saraswati Devi and Chandraprabha (known as Homi Sisters) who acted in JAWANI KI HAWA . Morchas were taken out to prevent the release of the film which finally opened at Imperial Cinema under Police Protection. Parsi members of Bombay Talkies, Board of Directors including Sir Phirozshah Mehta, Sir Cavasji Jehangir & F.E. Dinshaw refused to resign. Thereafter the agitation died down. Bombay Talkies arranged a special show for Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru to see their film ACHHUT KANYA .
First Kannada-Tamil Double Version Film
The first talkie film produced simultaneously in two versions, in Kannada and Tamil, was “PURANDARDAS” by Devi Films in 1937.
First Film without Any Song
Wadia Movietone's “ Naujawan” was the first talkie without any song produced in 1937. First Colour Film Laboratory K.B. Ardeshir M Irani of Imperial Film Company established a colour film laboratory for the first time in India in 1937. Imperia's “Kisan Kanya” was the first cine colour film from this laboratory.
Formation of Indian Motion Picture Producers” Association in Bombay
“CHITAMANI” (Tamil), directed by Y.V. Rao and starring M.K. Thilagaraja Bhagavathar and K. Aswathama (13 th March), creates a record for continuous run for more than one year in one cinema house alone.
Debaki Bose gives lyrical and philosophical treatment to the life of a Vaishnative poet in New Theatres ‘ VIDYAPATI'.
First Malayalam Talkie
The first talkie film in Malayalee was “Balan” produced by Modern Theatres Ltd. Salem in 1938. It was directed by Notani. Formation of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce in Madras and Indian Motion Picture Distributor's Association in Bombay.
First Camera Crane
Wadia Movietone used the camera crane for the first time in India while producing their films in 1938. The crane was built in their own workshop under the expert care of B.M. Tara.
Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Cinema in Bombay (in May)
First Hindi Talkie from South
“Prem Sagar” produced and directed by K. Subramanyam in 1939 was the first Hindi Talkie produced in the south.
First Film Society
Bombay Film Society was the first film society in India formed in Bombay in 1942.
First Govt. Control over length & Distribution of Raw Film
The Govt. of India restricted the footage of the feature films to 11,000 feet and that of trailers to 400 feet, from May 16, 1942. Further, distribution of raw film was also controlled for the first time from 17 th July 1943 to 15 th Dec. 1945.
Government Control on the distribution of raw film; The Information Films of India and Indian News Parade, set up by Government to produce documentaries and newsreels; Exhibition of Government “approved” films made compulsory under D.I.R. 44 A.
First Talkie Produced in English Language Wadia Movietone's “The Court Dancer” was the first Indian Talkie which had English dialogue. It was released in USA in 1944. Dadasaheb Phalke, father of Indian Cinema, passes away on 16 th Feb. 1944.
Bombay Talkies ‘KISMAT', made in 1943, creates an all time record for the longest continuous run of more than three and a half years at a single cinema ROXY in Calcutta.
First Ballet Film
Screen and Stage Production Madras “Kalpana” directed by Uday Shankar in 1948 was the first ballet film in India. It had dialogue by Amrit Lal Nagar and Lyrics by Sumitra Nandan Pant.
First 16mm colour feature film Bhavnani Productions ‘Rangeen Zamana” produced and directed by M. Bhavnani in 1948 (released as “Ajit” in 1949) was the first colour feature film produced on Kodachrome and blown up to 35mm.
First Time “A” and “U” Classification
The Indian Cinematograph Act 1918 was amended in December 1949 by which time censorship was made a Central subject for the first time and two types of categories “A” and “U” were prescribed for certification of films.
First Film With “A” certificate
Akash Chitra's “Hanste Aansu” was the first Hindi feature film in 1950 which was is sued an “A” Certificate (Film suitable for exhibition to Adults only) in India.
• Formation of Central Board of Film Censors with B.N. Sircar on the Board. Launching of Film Federation of India under the presidentship of