Mohini Bhasmasur

From PhalkeFactory

Bhasmasur, like many Asuras, was capable of hard and difficult penance. Actually, was it penance, this difficult meditation- was he punishing his body and mind, putting them through the most difficult tasks, to repent something, or just to aggrandise, to become the most powerful being on earth, or simply, in the manner of young children with their parents, to cock a snook at the gods?

Shiva was woken in Kailas by the power of this penance, and appeared, irritable at the umpteenth mortal who was making demands. He had to appear, the power of the meditation was such, it brought Shiva to his feet and onto a vista before Bhasmasur. Bhasmasur asked, to Shiva's sleepy surprise, only for the power to reduce anything he chose, to ashes : that his right hand, placed on anyone or anything should work with the ruthless speed we associate today with the electric crematoriums.

Shiva complied and the Asura laughed with the absolute villainy that only a child can understand, and threatened Shiva with an upraised hand. Round and round they went in circles, an enraged but helpless Shiva, beginning to get fearful of this laughing man with his hand upraised in a malign blessing. Shiva remembered Vishnu.

Mohini appeared, a stunning beauty whose lazy gaze led Bhasmasur away from the bedraggled, harassed Shiva. Her hips had the sway of a fine dancer, her gaze had the langour of her gait.

How did she initiate Bhasmasur into that silly game of imitation, where he repeated every move she made? Does the image suggest a mating ritual, like of two large birds walking the ground, or does it merely confirm that he was a child, stunned by the radiance of her beauty, not knowing what to do with the emotion, completely at her mercy.

She led him into a merry dance before she finally put her right hand on her head and waited for the adoring Bhasmasur to imitate her.

Within a month or so of my return from abroad, I made some 100-200 foot films for the satisfaction of my friend.

These films were produced with the help of my wife and children only.

However, I badly required further money for employing paid actors.

A moneylender gave me the money against proper security when he was convinced of my success after seeing those films on the screen.

I advertised and brought together my disciples and other employees.

I trained them well, and brought ‘Raja Harischandra’ to the screen within only 6 months.

I got amazing returns on just one print of this film. There was demand for a dozen prints.

But I feared that the income from one film may be short-lived, like the Swadeshi movement, and thought it would not be proper to judge the income on a permanent basis.

With these thoughts, I made the second film, ‘Mohini Bhasmasur’.

I suspended the work for 3 or 4 monsoon months, and shifted my studio from Bombay to Nasik on 3rd October 1913.

This place was convenient from many points of view.

There I made ‘Mohini Bhasmasur’.

This also brought me fortune, like my first film, and encouraged me further.

I brought my third film, ‘Savitri Satyavan’, before the world. This film added to the success and income from the first two films.

I used the incoming flow for equipping the studio.

Kamalabai was the first woman to appear on the Indian screen in Mohini Bhasmasur. Years later she remembers the experience in Kamal Swarup's documentary film 'Phalke's Children' Kamala bai remembers mohini bhasmasur