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History Of Birth And Growth Of Telugu Cinema (Part 1)
Indian Talkie is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee. The Telugu Talkie too is as old as Hindi talkie. In this connection we thought to bring back some memories of Telugu cinema against the backdrop of Indian cinema, as such. The articles that will be serialized regularly will give insight into some of the great events - past and present - for you to read and enjoy. This is a tribute of 'cinegoer.net' for the great history and its makers. As the world cinema already crossed its century, we thought it better to also give its backdrop only to make you understand that how much the world cinema influenced us to be what we are today.
The Telugu Talkie is now celebrating its Platinum Jubilee. One should be proud that the Telugu Talkie is as old as the Hindi and 25 years younger to world cinema. Ardeshir Irani and HM Reddy made the first films almost simultaneously. But Ardeshir's 'Alam Ara' was released a few months before HM Reddy's 'Bhakta Prahlada'. But the year is the same - 1931. Thus it is now 75 years that the Telugu Talkie came before its audience. Hence its Platinum Jubilee year is on and is celebrated in different ways. In fact Telugu cinema's Silver Jubilee and also its Golden Jubilee too were celebrated earlier, during which time lots of publications came into existence recalling what had happened during previous years in the cinema and how it progressed, where it failed and where it was set right.
|Ardeshir Irani does a sound check during the making of Alam Ara.|
The first Silver Jubilee was celebrated all over India on December 22, 1951. There is no need to tell that this was also the 'Silver Jubilee' year of Indian cinema, as the first talkie was first screened in 1931. SK Patil in Bombay inaugurated the Silver Jubilee celebrations. Top ranking film industrialists were felicitated and films were screened on each day right from that of Dadasaheb Phalke's of silent era. It was unfortunate that there was no movement in the South, especially in Madras (present Chennai), the heartthrob of South Indian cinema. This news of South Inidan cinema especialy the Telugu and Tamil talkies Silver Jubilee, was brought to the notice of the public only through newspapers.
The Indian cinema then was in third place in the world. We always take, even today, pride in the number of productions. But never in its quality. Unless you don't talk of the revolution brought in this bioscope, you can never understand how much work was done before what we are enjoying today, called cinema. It is necessary to pay tributes to those geniuses who made things possible today. Which means we give a gist of what happened 27 years before a 'talkie' came into existence in India.
Lumière brothers of France screened a film in 1895 at Grand Café in France. That was 50 ft film. They projected it on the screen with an instrument called 'Cinematograph'. Later it was shown in London. One Robert Paul projected this. From then on small films were being made and projected in France and England. Their subject in those small films were running trains, sailing ships and leisure life in parks. They were all films below 100 ft in length. Therefore, they grouped such short films together and projected them on small screens. This was the story in the year 1903. Single projector was used. The next development was adding a second projector not to waste time, when there were more than one reel at hand. Thus the double projector system came into existence.
|Lumière brothers - Auguste and Louis Lumière.|
In India, the first projection of this kind was only in the year 1904. This film was brought from abroad. The title was 'The Life of Christ'. The way the reel ran was by hand, by rotating it by its handle, keeping to a particular speed. People got tuned to that speed and rotated accordingly. Till 1912, none ventured to make a silent film in India. What all they began showing were the films they brought from England, France or America. And there arose this great personality Dadasaheb Phalke, who decided to undertake that venture of making a film.
By then it is said that one Manik D Sitna was running a 'touring film projection system'. He was the man importing these silent short films to India and taking them all over the country. There was no distribution system. Phalke saw the film 'The Life of Christ'. He was so thrilled that he saw it a number of times. That sank into his mind. He got the idea of making a film himself. By then he learned the art of cinematography. He was a painter too. He studied the book 'ABCD of Cinematography'.
Then he travelled to England in February 1912 and purchased the material to make a film. It is said that he bought 'Williamson Camera' that was in demand then. He started using it, himself as a producer-director, set designer and cameraman too. With that he made that historic film 'Raja Harischandra' and eventually became known as 'Grandfather of Indian cinema' (Bharateeya Chalanachitra Pitamaha). And in Madras Raghupati Venkaiah too was doing the same like Phalke, on the same lines, about whom we discuss later.
To Be Continued...