Nanasaheb Sarpotdar

From PhalkeFactory

During his stay in Pune, Dadasaheb fell ill. Penniless he could not help writing to V.Shantaram on 25th August, 1939 requesting him to send the sum of five rupees so as to reach him on Dasara day. Shantaram bapu was in Prabhat at the time. He immediately sent the money to Dadasaheb. The touching letter is published in Shantarama

I came to know of a similar incident, which I have mentioned in an article I wrote on the occasion of the 50th death anniversary (1990) of Nanasaheb Sarpotdar. Dadasaheb owed Rs. 2 to Poona Guest House. Nanasaheb would never have asked for it. In fact, he did not like that Dadasaheb paid for lodging and boarding in his guest house. But he did this much: he charged Dadasaheb only a nominal amount. Dadasaheb pawned a copy of his movie at a Marwadi's shop for Rs. 3, paidoff Rs. 2 to Poona Guest House and kept Re 1 for the train fare to Nashik. In those days the fare was only that much. Had a generous man like Nanasaheb known this, he would notonlyhave refused to accept the money but, on the other hand, arranged for Dadasaheb's trip to Nashik.

After going to stay in his own house, Dadasaheb contracted diabetes. He was without work. He would sit and write whatever came to his mind. Like the father of cinematography, David Griffith, Dadasaheb made trips from one studio to another with his stories. Towards the end of 1942, he visited Prabhat Studio. V.Shantaram had left Prabhat by that time. Dadasheb met Vishnupant Damle and showed him some of his stories. Damle bought the story named Japani Pankha for which he was paid Rs. 2,000 as honorarium. Dadasaheb was very mcuh in need of money at the time.

Raja Nene, assistant director in Prabhat, who later became a director, read the story. e apprised his maternal uncle, Vishnupant Damle, of his opinion," We shall have to consider whether this story will be useful for a Prabhat movie". Damle replied immediately, " We shall see to it later. We had to buy one of his stories.I know his circumstances. If Ihad ofered himomoney fro free, this proud man would not have accepted it. That is why I bought the story. Whatever position we have today, Prabhat's affluence, its worldwide fame, our own prosperity, we owe it all to the indigenous industry started by this great man. Consider it as a token repayment of that debt'. Raja Nene hasnarrated this incident in a newspper article he wrote on the occasion of Damle's 25th death anniversary on 5th July 1970. I saw the file of Japani Pankha after joining Prabhat as Chief Assistant Director since the days of Ram Shastri.

from Bapu Vatve's Dadasaheb Phalke published by National Book Trust