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swarapriya
Visionary - V. Shantaram

Few months back I ran across an article about late V. Shantaram. The article traced some of his cinematic accomplishments that I was not aware of before. I knew his films mostly since 50’s, his works like “Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955)”, “Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957)”, “Navrang (1959)” and others. I admired him immensely because of the art and craft of these movies. However, after reading the article I came to understand how little I knew about him. Most of his brilliant work was done in 1930’s and 1940’s through bilingual movies he made in Hindi and Marathi. I have not seen anyone of them before. I decided to dig deeper and share with our Forum members what I was able to unearth about this visionary legend and genius (who was a producer, director, actor, editor, and writer) through this thread.

Let us briefly start talking about how this all started…

Shantaram did not have much of schooling. In early teens he took up odd jobs like railroad repairs and maintenance work. To supplement his income he took up a job at a local cinema house. For the cinema house he did any work that came by like painting signs, ushering people into the theater, handling movie projection etc. When Dadasaheb Phalke came up with India’s first silent film he was thrilled and developed great admiration and respect for him. While working there at the cinema house he also started watching English films.

Shantaram briefly worked for a photographer to learn skills on handling the camera. But he was yearning for more. His second cousin from his mother’s side was working for a company called Maharashtra Film Company that was owned and operated by the great Baburao Painter. The cousin took Shantaram to Painter who hired him to work on anything he can find. Painter was busy making silent movies. Shantaram worked tirelessly and learned everything about making movies. Eventually he get a break as an actor in one of Painter’s films. Later on he also directed a film for Painter.

Shantaram’s work can be described through the stints and associations he had with various film companies. These can be described through the following four phases:

• Phase 1: Maharashtra Film Company (16 films, all silent) (See the attachment below)
• Phase 2: Prabhat Film Company (32 films; 6 silent and rest talkies) (See the attachment below)
• Phase 3: Rajkamal Kala Mandir (31 films) (See the attachment below)
• Phase 4: V. Shantaram Productions (13 films) (See the attachment below)

I am attaching below few photographs of Shantaram. One of them shows several images of him at work. The other one shows some of the awards and recognitions he received.

Following are some of the milestones in Shantaram’s film carrier:

• “Surekha Haran (1921)” – first silent film as an actor

• “Netaji Palkar (1927)” – first silent film as director; co-director was Keshavrao Dhaiber

• “Gopal Krishna (1929)” – first silent film under Prabhat; first film with allusions of pre-independence
movement; directed by Shantaram

• “Rani Saheba (1930)” – first children movie; directed by Shantaram

• “Udaykal (1930)” – first movie to politicize (fight against the British rule) Shivaji’s expeditions; directed by
Shantaram

• “Chandrasena (1931)” – first movie to use a trolley to shoot certain scenes; directed by Shantaram &
Keshavrao Dhaiber

• “Zulum (1931)” – last silent movie under Prabhat; directed by Keshavrao Dhaiber; Shantaram was one of
the producers

• “Ayodhyecha Raja (1932)” – first talkie under Prabhat; first Marathi talkie; first bilingual talkie; oldest
available talkie in India; directed by Shantaram

• “Maya Machhindra (1932)” – first film to use optical superimposition; first film to release its songs on a
gramophone record; directed by Shantaram

• “Sairandhri (1933)” – first color film made in India; first to have songs pressed on records in Germany from
the original motion picture soundtrack; directed by Shantaram

• “Amrit Manthan (1934)” – first film to raise voice against animal as well as human sacrifices; first film to
celebrate a silver jubilee; first film to use a telephoto lens to show close-ups; directed by Shantaram

• “Seetha Kalyanam (1934)” – first and only Tamil film made by Prabhat; directed by Baburao Pendharkar;
Shantaram was one of the producers

• “Dharmatma (1935)” – first film to explore the issue of untouchability; only devotional film directed by
Shantaram

• “Jambu Kaka (1935)” – first cartoon film made in India; shown in theaters before Prabhat’s regular
features; directed by Shantaram

• “Amar Jyoti (1936)” – first film to raise the issue of women’s emancipation; first film to use back projection;
first Prabhat film to use a playback singer; first Indian film to be screened at the Venice Film Festival;
directed by Shantaram

• “Sant Tukaram (1936)” – first film to raise the issue of caste system; first film to run over a year; co-
directed by Vishnupant Damle & Sheikh Fateh; Shantaram was one of the producers

• “Duniya Na Mane (1937)” – first film to explore the issue of a young woman married to a much older man;
directed by Shantaram

• “Wahan (1937)” – first film to raise the issue of slavery; directed by Narayan Kale; Shantaram was one of
the producers

• “Aadmi (1939)” – first film to raise the issue of prostitute rehabilitation; directed by Shantaram

• “Sant Dnyaneshwar (1940)” – first film to raise the issue of religious bigotry; first to be screened in USA;
first Marathi film broadcast on Doordarshan; co-directed by Vishnupant Damle & Sheikh Fateh; Shantaram
was one of the producers

• “Padosi (1941)” – first film to showcase the communal problems between Hindus & Muslims; directed by
Shantaram

• “Shakuntala (1943)” – first film under Rajkamal Kalamandir banner; film deals with women empowerment;
first film to be shown abroad in Canada; directed by Shantaram

• “Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani (1946)” – first film that explored Indo-Chinese relationship; directed by
Shantaram

• “Dahej (1950)” – film on the consequences suffered due to the unjust dowry system; directed by
Shantaram

• “Teen Batti Char Raasta (1953)” – first film about national integration; first film to explore complexities of
dark versus fair skin; directed by Shantaram

• “Subah ka Tara (1954)” – film deals with perils and subsequent consequences of a man pursuing to marry a
widow; directed by Shantaram

• “Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955)” – first film that dazzlingly displays the artistic richness of Indian
classical dances; directed by Shantaram

• “Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957)” – first film to explore jail reforms; won many national and international
honors; directed by Shantaram

• “Navrang (1959)” – another feast of dances and songs; introduced Mahendra Kapoor as a playback singer;
directed by Shantaram

• “Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne (1964)” – introduced Rajshri and Jeetendra as the leading pair in the film;
directed by Shantaram

• “Ladki Sahyadri Ki (1966)” – first film for which Pandit Jasraj sang a song; directed by Shantaram

• “Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli (1971)” – first film for which all songs were recorded in stereophonic sound;
directed by Shantaram

• “Pinjra (1972)” – first film to introduce the stage actor Shree Ram Lagoo to the big screen; directed by
Shantaram

It will be a while before we get into talkies, but starting in the next post I will have few details of the first silent film Shantaram acted, “Surekha Haran”…
swarapriya
Surekha Haran (1921) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was also known as “Surekha Abhimanyu”. It was later made in 1970 as “Veer Ghatotkach”.

Shantaram acted as “Krishna” in this film. It was directed by Baburao Painter.

Painter’s birth name was Baburao Krishnarao Mestry (his pictures attached below). He taught himself how to paint. He became very popular with beautiful paintings he did and came to known as Baburao Painter. He partnered with his cousin Anandrao, another painter, and were busy doing stage backdrops for various drama companies.

The painter brothers decided to exhibit films. They bought a movie projector and started showing movies. During this time unexpectedly Anandrao passed away. Left alone Baburao decided to move forward. He assembled a movie camera to start shooting films. He gave work to Shantaram who studied all the techniques under him. Eventually Painter gave Shantaram a role to play Krishna in this film, “Surekha Haran”.

Man of many talents, Baburao was a painter, sculptor, actor, art director, writer, cinematographer, producer, and director. He also designed his own film posters. Some of his painting are shown at the bottom of the table below.

One solemn note. Unfortunately almost all the work Painter has done, including his silent movies and several paintings, have been destroyed either in a fire or due to neglect.
Viraj Padhye
Nice topic SP. Thanks.
swarapriya
QUOTE(Viraj Padhye @ Jan 6 2019, 06:49 PM) *

Nice topic SP. Thanks.


Thank you very much Viraj. My lack of understanding of Marathi language will present problems but I will wade through this somehow.

Cheers,
S
Viraj Padhye
QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 7 2019, 10:29 PM) *

QUOTE(Viraj Padhye @ Jan 6 2019, 06:49 PM) *

Nice topic SP. Thanks.


Thank you very much Viraj. My lack of understanding of Marathi language will present problems but I will wade through this somehow.

Cheers,
S


I will try to add value wherever possible.

Viraj
swarapriya
QUOTE(Viraj Padhye @ Jan 7 2019, 06:00 PM) *

QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 7 2019, 10:29 PM) *

QUOTE(Viraj Padhye @ Jan 6 2019, 06:49 PM) *

Nice topic SP. Thanks.


Thank you very much Viraj. My lack of understanding of Marathi language will present problems but I will wade through this somehow.

Cheers,
S


I will try to add value wherever possible.

Viraj


Thanks a bunch, Viraj. -S

swarapriya
Damaji (1922) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. It was also called “Bhagwat Bhakta Damaji”. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

Shantaram had a brief role in this film.

This movie was based on the life of Damaji Pant, a 15-th century Marathi saint. He was the main revenue officer of the Sultan of Bidar. He was a devotee of the god Vithoba. When a great famine struck the entire region, he opened up Sultan’s grain warehouses and distributed all the grain to starving people. Initially upset by Damaji’s doings, the Sultan later pardoned him as he was supposed to have been compensated by the god Vithoba himself. Damaji settled down with his family in Pandharpur where the temple of Vithoba is and spent rest of his life singing his praises.

The famine that struck Deccan was named after him, “Damaji Famine”.
swarapriya
Sinhagad (1923) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi movie was the first historical film made in India. At that point it was also the costliest one. It told the story of emperor Shivaji and his lieutenant Tanaji and the invasion of Fort Sinhagad. The film was directed by Baburao Painter who also starred in it as the emperor. Shantaram was one of the actors in the film. He played the role of Shelar Mama.

I am attaching a still of an actor riding a horse that is supposed from this film that is captioned as Shantaram. It looks more like that of the famous Marathi and Hindi film actor of yesteryears, Keshavrao Date. But it does not look anything like Shantaram. I do not believe it. Nevertheless I am attaching it below.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

Until this movie, Painter used painted curtains (he himself painted them) as sets. But for this film he used multidimensional sets that he designed and built by himself. He used artificial lighting to create the effect of moonlight and fog. This practice was first in the industry.

While filming this movie, Baburao fell off a horse he was riding that sidelined him several weeks. It also left him with a lifelong speech impediment.

“Sinhagad” became a huge success for Painter. Revenue Department took a note of it and introduced Entertainment Tax to be collected for each ticket sold for all movies.

The movie along with another of Painter’s film “Kalyan Khajina (1924)” were exhibited at Wembley in London. Together they were awarded a medal. London’s newspaper “Daily Express” reviewing these films described them as “full of strangely wistful beauty, and acted with extraordinary grace.”

The film influenced many of the forthcoming Marathi films. Shantaram remade this film as a talkie in 1933.
swarapriya
Sati Padmini (1924) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi movie had other names; “Siege of Chittor” and “Beauty of Rajasthan”. The story dealt with Allauddin Khilji’s assault on Chittor and eventual destruction of the city as he failed to capture queen Padmavati alive. It was recently made as “Padmavat” that was a source of many controversies.

The movie was directed by Baburao Painter. Shantaram had a small role in the film. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Shri Krishna Avatar (1924) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Shantaram appeared in a brief role in this film.

This movie dealt with the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna. Their later silent movie, the 1927 “Muraliwala”, also directed by Painter, revolved around Radha’s devotion for Krishna and the friction between her and her husband.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie “Shri Krishna Avatar.”

swarapriya
Maya Bazar (1925) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Another name for this movie was “Vatsala Haran”. It was a mythological taken from the epic Mahabharata.

Shantaram appeared in a brief role in this film.

This movie is a love story of Vatsala, the daughter of Balram and Abhimanyu, the son of Arjun. Krishna is the paternal uncle of Vatsala and maternal uncle of Abhimanyu. As Balram was opposed to their marriage, Krishna with the help of Bhim’s son Ghatotkach creates an illusionary festival (thus “Maya Bazar”) that helps Abhimanyu to elope with Vatsala.

Maharashtra Film Company, who produced this film, could not find a lady artist to play Vatsala. Painter then decided to have 13 year old Raghunath Khatavkar take the role of Vatsala! The movie was completed and released with the youngster as the leading “lady”.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Rana Hamir (1925) - A Silent Film

Baburao Painter was busy in 1925. He produced and directed four silent movies during that year. This silent Marathi movie was one of them. This film is also known as “Samrat Hamir”. It had a historical theme. Shantaram appeared in this film.

I could not get any information about this film to share with you. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Savkari Pash (1925) - A Silent Classic

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Shantaram appeared as one of the farmers in the film.

The movie was a departure from historical or mythological films that hitherto were made. It dealt for the first time with realism where a money lending merchant had a noose around the necks of poor farmers and their families. The plight of countless illiterate farmers as picturized in this movie remains a masterpiece even today.

At Painter’s insistence, no makeup was used for artistes. Also they were asked to wear simple and worn out clothes. When the movie failed, a disappointed Baburao returned back to his proven and successful costume dramas.

A picture of Painter shooting a movie is shown below at the center of the bottom of the table. It also shows a couple of stills from this film. Shantaram can be seen as a farmer in the leftmost still. He is the one standing on the right with a stick in his hand.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Shahala Shah (1925) - A Silent Film

This was the fourth silent Marathi film that was produced and directed by Baburao Painter in 1925. Its alternate title was “Check to the King”. It was a historical drama. Shantaram appeared in this film in a brief role.

I do not have any other information about this film that I can share with you. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.


soumik

Thanks Swarapriya for starting this thread....

1. Any idea about the duration of these silent films????

2. Maybe National Film Archive of India or The National Museum of Indian Cinema have the prints of these movies which are extremely rare and precious....Obviously we will not get these films in the open market.

Soumik



QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 24 2019, 07:45 PM) *

Shahala Shah (1925) - A Silent Film

This was the fourth silent Marathi film that was produced and directed by Baburao Painter in 1925. Its alternate title was “Check to the King”. It was a historical drama. Shantaram appeared in this film in a brief role.

I do not have any other information about this film that I can share with you. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

swarapriya
QUOTE(soumik @ Jan 26 2019, 10:20 AM) *

Thanks Swarapriya for starting this thread....

1. Any idea about the duration of these silent films????

2. Maybe National Film Archive of India or The National Museum of Indian Cinema have the prints of these movies which are extremely rare and precious....Obviously we will not get these films in the open market.

Soumik



QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 24 2019, 07:45 PM) *

Shahala Shah (1925) - A Silent Film

This was the fourth silent Marathi film that was produced and directed by Baburao Painter in 1925. Its alternate title was “Check to the King”. It was a historical drama. Shantaram appeared in this film in a brief role.

I do not have any other information about this film that I can share with you. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.



Soumik,

Thanks for the encouragement.

I am sharing information I have on silent films three times a week. The talking motion pictures start only after that. I have 13 more silent films to cover. So talkies will start in early March. My current plan is to upload songs and information about Shantaram's talking motion pictures once a week, every Sunday.

If one can find the right contact may be it is possible to find prints of some of these silent films. But many of these have been destroyed. For example, in an article Painter's family described how most of his work is no longer available.

S


swarapriya
Bhakt Prahlad (1926) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Shantaram appeared in this film in a brief role.

This was a mythological film. Interestingly the very same year another movie by the same name was released. That silent movie was directed by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke and affectionately remembered as the “Father of Indian Cinema” because he was the first one to make a full length feature film in India, “Raja Harishchandra”, a silent film, that was released in May 1913).

I do not have any further information about Painter’s “Prahlad” film. Unfortunately no prints are available of this movie.
soumik
Dear Swarapriya....

You got me wrong. I was asking about the duration of these silent movies, i.e., total movie-time, whether these were 30/45 mins, 1-hour or more than 1-hour movies...

Example:

Bilwamangal (also known as Bhagat Soordas) is a 1919 silent black-and-white Bengali film directed by Rustomji Dhotiwala. The acquired footage is 594 metres long or run 28 minutes.

Soumik


QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 27 2019, 10:04 PM) *

QUOTE(soumik @ Jan 26 2019, 10:20 AM) *

Thanks Swarapriya for starting this thread....

1. Any idea about the duration of these silent films????

2. Maybe National Film Archive of India or The National Museum of Indian Cinema have the prints of these movies which are extremely rare and precious....Obviously we will not get these films in the open market.

Soumik



QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 24 2019, 07:45 PM) *

Shahala Shah (1925) - A Silent Film

This was the fourth silent Marathi film that was produced and directed by Baburao Painter in 1925. Its alternate title was “Check to the King”. It was a historical drama. Shantaram appeared in this film in a brief role.

I do not have any other information about this film that I can share with you. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.



Soumik,

Thanks for the encouragement.

I am sharing information I have on silent films three times a week. The talking motion pictures start only after that. I have 13 more silent films to cover. So talkies will start in early March. My current plan is to upload songs and information about Shantaram's talking motion pictures once a week, every Sunday.

If one can find the right contact may be it is possible to find prints of some of these silent films. But many of these have been destroyed. For example, in an article Painter's family described how most of his work is no longer available.

S

swarapriya
QUOTE(soumik @ Jan 28 2019, 07:54 AM) *

Dear Swarapriya....

You got me wrong. I was asking about the duration of these silent movies, i.e., total movie-time, whether these were 30/45 mins, 1-hour or more than 1-hour movies...

Example:

Bilwamangal (also known as Bhagat Soordas) is a 1919 silent black-and-white Bengali film directed by Rustomji Dhotiwala. The acquired footage is 594 metres long or run 28 minutes.

Soumik


QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 27 2019, 10:04 PM) *

QUOTE(soumik @ Jan 26 2019, 10:20 AM) *

Thanks Swarapriya for starting this thread....

1. Any idea about the duration of these silent films????

2. Maybe National Film Archive of India or The National Museum of Indian Cinema have the prints of these movies which are extremely rare and precious....Obviously we will not get these films in the open market.

Soumik



QUOTE(swarapriya @ Jan 24 2019, 07:45 PM) *

Shahala Shah (1925) - A Silent Film

This was the fourth silent Marathi film that was produced and directed by Baburao Painter in 1925. Its alternate title was “Check to the King”. It was a historical drama. Shantaram appeared in this film in a brief role.

I do not have any other information about this film that I can share with you. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.



Soumik,

Thanks for the encouragement.

I am sharing information I have on silent films three times a week. The talking motion pictures start only after that. I have 13 more silent films to cover. So talkies will start in early March. My current plan is to upload songs and information about Shantaram's talking motion pictures once a week, every Sunday.

If one can find the right contact may be it is possible to find prints of some of these silent films. But many of these have been destroyed. For example, in an article Painter's family described how most of his work is no longer available.

S



I see what you were saying. Unfortunately. I do not have details of the length of the movies.

Cheers,
S
swarapriya
Gaja Gauri (1926) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Shantaram appeared in this film.

The story of the film was taken from the epic Mahabharata. Gaja Gauri is a Vrath which is performed riding an elephant and distributing gifts to relatives of equal status.

Gandhari, mother of Kauravas, performs this Vrath and gives gifts to Kunthi, mother of Pandavas. She challenges Kunthi to do the same if she can because she is aware of the fact that Pandavas do not have an elephant. Rest of the story involves Pandavas bringing Indra’s elephant “Airavata” to earth so that their mother can perform the Vrath.

I was able to find a few stills from the film. They are shown at the bottom of the table below. Unfortunately no prints of this movie are available.
swarapriya
Muraliwala (1927) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. It dealt with the childhood of Krishna. But more than that it was the first movie to deal with the love triangle between Radha, her husband Anay, and little Krishna. Ethics of love between Radha and Krishna has never been explored before this or after it. It was a daring exposition by Painter Saab.

Most of the silent era movies have been destroyed because of negligence or fires. This film was discovered in a very fragile manner and painstakingly restored. The restored version is 44 minutes long. It is definitely missing some beginning footage. But the result of restoration proved to be splendid and historically valuable. It gives proper perspective of what the moviemakers have to work with limited by then existing technology.

Incidentally, Shantaram had a significant role in the film. He played Radha’s husband, Anay.

The movie for its period had several trick photographic scenes. These were used to show Krishna’s antics with village belles.

I am including various stills from the film as part of the table shown below.
swarapriya
Netaji Palkar (1927) - A Silent Movie

Netaji Palkar was a silent Marathi film with two directors; Keshavrao Dhaiber and V. Shantaram. This was the first directorial assignment for Shantaram albeit he shared duties with Dhaiber. It was made for Maharashtra Film Company, owned and operated by Baburao Painter. Both Dhaiber and Shantaram were Painter’s apprentices.

This historical film was based on the life of emperor Shivaji’s senapati, Netaji Palkar. The movie was a success and made a great impact on upcoming Marathi films. Maharashtra Film Company was almost bankrupt before this film was released. Its commercial success helped make the Company once again solvent.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Karna (1928) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was also known as “Maharathi Karna”. It was produced by Baburao Painter. The directors were Vishnupant Damle and Sheikh Fatehlal. Their picture is attached below. Damle is on the left side of the picture. He is also the one sitting in the chair on extreme right in the right side of the picture. Fatehlal is the bespectacled gentleman sitting in the middle. It was a first stint as a director for both of them.

Shantaram had a brief role as an actor.

The film became popular for its great picturization of battle scenes. They were inspired by the 1907 English silent film “Ben Hur” that encouraged them to devise spectacular battles. To accomplish this they used all the tongas pulled by horses in Kolhapur and surroundings. They also borrowed horses and elephants from the Maharaja.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Nisha Sundary (1928) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Its alternate title was “Midnight Girl”.

The movie was based on the famous fairy-tale of Cinderella. It followed pretty much the original story. The ill treatment of Cinderella by her stepmother and stepsisters and her marriage to the Prince with the help of fairy Godmother formed the story. I am referring to the girl’s name here as “Cinderella” but I am sure the movie had an Indian name for her.

Shantaram appeared in a brief role in this film.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Baji Prabhu Deshpande (1929) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Baburao Painter. Another title of the movie was “Valley of the Immortals”.

Shantaram had a major role in the film.

This is a historical drama about Shivaji’s commander. Painter made several silent films about Shivaji and his commanders. This was one of them.

The movie dealt with Baji Prabhu’s battle with army guarding Panhala Fort where Shivaji was imprisoned. This fierce battle led by Prabhu enabled Shivaji to escape from the fort safely. Prabhuji died of the wounds he suffered in the battle.

Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.
swarapriya
Gopal Krishna (1929) - A Silent Film

Shantaram along with Damle, Dhaiber, and Fatehlal left the Maharashtra Film Company and its owner Baburao Painter and formed their own company called Prabhat Film Company. They took a fifth partner, Sitaram Kulkarni, who was the financier. See their picture attached below along with Baburao Painter sitting in the chair in the middle with a kid next to him. This silent Marathi film was the first one they made under the Prabhat banner. Shantaram was its solo director. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

There were two major themes in this film. The first one was the confrontation between child Krishna and Indra. Krishna saved the people and animals of Gokul from the wrath of Indra by lifting the Govardhan Mountain on his pinky. The other major theme had to do with child Krishna going against King Kansa. Master Suresh who played the role of Krishna became very people and became a household name.

Shantaram went on record to state (in his 1986 autobiography) that he found several topical allusions of pre-independence movement in India and meshed them with this mythological story. Several critics cited it as an example of “Gandhian anti-colonial nationalism”.

In one of the scenes from the film where little Krishna playing on swing his loin cloth came loose. Neither the director Shantaram nor anyone on the set noticed this and they went ahead to finish the shooting. The shot innocently was included in the film with boy’s frontal nudity completely revealed. When the movie was released critics applauded it as bold realism and praised Shantaram for this unique directorial touch.

There was a bullock cart race in the film. When the movie was released it was much talked about. This was an incentive for Shantaram who strived to put some highlight in his Prabhat movies that gave an edge to his films over the others in the market.

The movie’s success helped produce five additional silent films for Prabhat in 1930 & 1931. These include “Khooni Khanajar”, “Rani Saheba” and “Udaykal” – all in 1930. The 1931 silent movies were “Chandrasena” and “Zulum”.

Shantaram remade “Gopal Krishna” as a talkie in 1938.
swarapriya
Khooni Khanjar (1930) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was co-directed by Shantaram and Keshavrao Dhaiber. A still of these two directors working together is attached below.

The film was a costume action drama. It was also known as “Fighting Blade”.

I do not have any further information about this film. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

Fattehlal was one the partners in Prabhat with Shantaram and others. He was an expert art director and set maker. He fell in love with Kamlabai, one of the workers in the company, and married her. She appears in Parbhat’s logo, that girl blowing the “tutari” horn. Rest of the partners were very disturbed by this unexpected development. They feared that their company was still in infancy and will probably be subject to public ire. In the wake of this incident they made a rule for themselves that no one will be ever involved with either any of the company female employees or with the movie actresses who appear in their films. This rule became very testy among the partners that eventually was one of the many reasons Prabhat Films closed its operations after a dozen or so years in operation. More about this when it is appropriate.
swarapriya
Rani Saheba (1930) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Shantaram. The movie had alternate names; “My Queen” and “Bazarbattu”. This film has the distinction of being the first children’s movie made in India. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

The story involved around an imaginary king and his queen. The king was a simpleton. His minister plans to overthrow him and take the kingdom himself. When the wise queen is made aware of this she takes control of the kingdom and straightens everything with the help of a group of children.

Following the success of the film Master Anant Apte who was just five years old was nicknamed “Bazarbattu”.
swarapriya
Udaykal (1930) - A Silent Film

This silent Marathi film was directed by Shantaram. Shantaram also played the title role of Shivaji in the film. Couple of stills from this film are attached below. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

Alternative title of the movie was “Thunder of the Hills”. Even though most of his films thus far were marked by the way camera movements capturing inventive visuals, Shantaram was also trying at the same time to highlight their social importance. This in spite of the subjects he chose to film, mythological or historical.

This was the first film to explicitly politicize the figure of emperor Shivaji and his military expeditions.

Shantaram faced censor trouble with “Udaykal”. Originally it was titled “Swarajche Toran.” Independence movement in India was at fever pitch during this time. People led by Gandhiji’s call were rising against the British Rule at every opportunity. With “Swaraj” as part of the title, censors objected to the name of the movie on the grounds it was seditious. Also theme of the movie dealt with emperor Shivaji’s fight against the Mughals that was perceived as a challenge to the British Rule. Against his own wishes, Shantaram was forced to change the title of the movie and cut several scenes or reshoot some of them to tone down the patriotic fervor found objectionable by the censors.
swarapriya
Chandrasena (1931) - A Silent Film

This was a silent film co-directed by Shantaram & Keshavrao Dhaiber. With this film, the Prabhat Film Company which produced it, was recognized as one of the frontliners in the movie industry. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

The story of the film was taken from the epic Ramayana. Chandrasena, wife of Mahiravan, helps Hanuman to rescue Rama and Lakshmana imprisoned in Paataala by Mahiravan. She also helps Hanuman in the defeat of Mahiravan’s mighty army.

Mahiravan was a brother of Ravan. He was supposed to be more powerful than Ravan. To avoid any conflict with his own brother, Mahiravan made his kingdom in Paataal.

The film utilized a trolley for the first time in any Indian cinema to shoot certain scenes.

Shantaram remade this film in 1935 as a talkie.
swarapriya
Zulum (1931) - A Silent Film

This was the last silent film released by the Prabhat Films Company of which Shantaram was one of the partners. It was directed by Keshavrao Dhaiber. Unfortunately there are no prints available of this movie.

This movie had a serious theme. It dealt with exploitation of the poor by the evil minded rich. I do not have any other particulars about this film.

The talkies have arrived in India. Things about movies are never going to be same anymore. From next week onwards we will start with looking into the contributions made by Shantaram to the film industry in talking movies, one at a time every week.
swarapriya
Ayodhya Ka Raja (1932-Hindi) & Ayodhyecha Raja (1932-Marathi) - Prabhat's First Talkie

Silent movies are part of history now. World has seen talking movies take over. It has swept movie going public around the world in awe and amazement. Watching movies was never going to be the same again. Not to be left behind India saw the talkies phenomenon take over. For the first time people were able to see in the movie actors talking, singing, dancing, laughing, and crying. They could hear singing of the birds, roaring of the river rapids, splashing of ocean waves, whispering of the winds, and every listening experience you can imagine. Here we are. Shantaram, his partners, and their company Prabhat films was not far behind. The following story unfolds how it all started for them…

This was the first talkie to come from Prabhat Film Company. The emblem of Prabhat was originally thought by Shantaram when he sat down near a temple and saw the sun rising. He explained this first to one of his partners, Fatehlal. He told him that a woman steps forward ushering the rising sun in the eastern sky. Fatehlal immediately drew the sketch from that description. See this sketch attached below. All partners agreed this to be the emblem for their company unanimously.

This talkie was the first talkie directed by Shantaram. It was also the first Marathi talkie. It was considered to be a technical leap in movies because of the song and dialogue quality. The movie also boasted splendid sets like the ones never seen before, trick photography, and gripping realism with uncompromising principles of the king.

The Marathi version of this film, “Ayodhyecha Raja,” in video format is available. However the Hindi version, “Ayodhya Ka Raja,” is not.

Durga Khote who played Taramati in these films, was from an upper class elite Brahmin family and well educated (she had a B.A. degree). Her taking the role of Taramati is now recognized as the one that gave a social leap. Until that time it was considered a taboo for women of upper class to be part of the films.

“Alam Ara” which was released in 1931 was the first talkie produced in India. But in 2003 fire at the National Archives of India the film was destroyed. By default “Ayodhyecha Raja” is now considered to be the first talkie (because it is available).

Shantaram made this movie in Marathi as “Ayodhyecha Raja” and in Hindi as “Ayodhya Ka Raja” simultaneously. Its title in English “The King of Ayodhya”. For some curious reason Prabhat gave their movies an English title. It was the first Marathi talkie and the first bilingual talkie made in India. The decision to make the film in two languages proved to be crucial for Prabhat as well as the rest of the industry. It set a pattern for much of the filmmaking in the 1930s.

Besides directing the film, Shantaram also edited the film. This was a mythological story taken from the epic Mahabharata, of king Harishchandra. It is interesting to note that the first silent feature length movie made by Dadasaheb Phalke (see his picture attached below) in 1913 was “Raja Harishchandra”. This first talkie Shantaram directed took the same story. Many people believe that this was a gesture by Shantaram paying a tribute to Phalke. In later years Shantaram became a close friend of Phalke. When Phalke’s fortunes turned bad and became very poor both physically and financially, Shantaram helped him by sending money every month.

The movie was shot on elaborate plaster sets. They were designed by Fatehlal. There were some daring shots in the film. For example, in a burning forest, a tree falls on the ground missing the king. Granted the movie depended upon stage-driven frontal compositions, but underneath all this there was a genuine attempt to be realistic as well. This was evident in the scenes where the king’s family is impoverished and trying hard to earn a living.

In Phalke’s movie Taramati was played by a man. He was not able to get any female to perform that role. Women feared appearing in the films because people looked down on them. That taboo was completely broken with the appearance of Durga Khote in this Shantaram’s film.

Here is a word about Mrs. Khote. See her attached picture below. She came from an elite Brahmin family. As soon as she graduated from the college she got married. Her husband passed away when she was just 25 years old and she had two little kids to raise. She was an independent woman and did not want to take any help from her parents. She was ready to take any job. She was neither an actress nor a singer. Yet, through her sister’s acquaintance she got a small role in Mohan Bhavnani’s 1931 Hindi film “Farebi Jaal”. The English title of the movie was “Trapped”. The movie flopped and she felt embarrassed at the whole experience.

Not many people saw “Trapped” but one of those who saw it was Shantaram. He decided to offer her the role of “Taramati” in his first talkie, “Ayodhyecha Raja”. She accepted the offer. The movie became a success in both Hindi and Marathi versions.

Shantaram also cast her for his next film “Maya Machhindra” which again hit the bull’s eye with the audience. From there onwards there was no looking back for Mrs. Khote.

Remember this was the first talkie by Prabhat Films. There were only few talking movies thus far that came out. Technicians who were experts and very proficient in silent movies have yet to get a handle with the sound. The system itself was still in primitive stages. That is why the audio quality of the soundtrack of the film is noisy and of inferior quality.

The Marathi version of the film was a huge success. After all it was the first Marathi talkie. Hindi version did not fare well as the Marathi version except in Mumbai. Yet it was billed as a success. The movie’s success gave a firm footing for Prabhat. In the coming years they will have a huge impact on how the films are made and what people want to see in them.

Details of songs from both versions follow starting in the next post…
swarapriya
Ayodhya Ka Raja (1932) - Hindi

Neither the movie version nor the songs from this film were available for me to share. The songs of the Hindi film are listed in the table below. I am requesting fellow Forum members to share them with rest of us if they have any. Thank you.
swarapriya
Ayodhyecha Raja (1932) - Marathi

I am uploading all songs ripped from a DVD below. I do not speak Marathi but the song quality was so bad that I could not tell in some of the songs what the words were. One of my Marathi friends helped identify some of these. Many thanks to my friend.

I am uploading these songs at a lower bit rate in two back-to-back posts. Here are the songs in the first post…
swarapriya
Concluding Songs from "Ayodhyecha Raja (1932)"...

Here are the rest of the songs from this movie...
swarapriya
Jalti Nishani (1932 - Hindi) & Agnikankan (1932 - Marathi)

This film was directed by Shantaram. It was simultaneously made in Hindi as “Jalti Nishan” and in Marathi as “Agnikankan”. It also had an English title, “Branded Oath”.

The Marathi version of this film in video format is available. But the Hindi version is not.

The movie was a costume drama with action, adventure and sword play. It told the story of a king who was killed by his own commander through treachery. His wife escapes with her son and brings him up in secret. The film chronicles the young prince’s escapades by disposing off the evil commander and reclaiming the throne.

Gajanan Jagirdar started his acting career with the Hindi version of the film. He was only 25 years but played the role of a 75-year old in the film. It was originally was to be played by D.D. Mane. But Mane’s Hindi diction was iffy, so Jagirdar stepped in.

By now Shantaram established himself as a director whose movies contain large sets and classical décor. This film was no exception. The film also had more sophisticated lighting compared to his previous efforts.

The movie was released to fabulous reviews and went onto become a huge success. A Bengali magazine wrote that this film is a work that is meant to be studied by those who want to enter into the film industry.

Debaki Bose, a renowned Bengali director, told Shantaram that he has seen the movie about a dozen times to study every shot closely. He was so inspired by some of the techniques Shantaram employed that he was to use a fair share of them in his upcoming movie. Bose and Shantaram became very close friends and remained so for many years.

See in the attached picture below Shantaram engrossed reading a book during shooting break.

Details of songs from both versions follow starting in the next post…
swarapriya
Jalti Nishani (1932 - Hindi)

Neither the movie version nor the songs from this film were available for me to share. There are 15 songs in the film. They are listed in the table below. I am requesting fellow Forum members to share them with rest of us if they have any. Thank you.
swarapriya
Agnikankan (1932 - Marathi)

I am uploading all songs here at a lower bit rate because of the poor quality of the audio. Here are songs in the first post…
swarapriya
Concluding Songs from "Agnikankan (1932 - Marathi)"...

Here are the rest of the songs from this film...
Nandu
I had seen a few films on Door Darshan earlier. Great Director.
swarapriya
QUOTE(Nandu @ Mar 11 2019, 09:30 AM) *

I had seen a few films on Door Darshan earlier. Great Director.


Great indeed! Cheers.

swarapriya
Maya Machhindra (1932 - Hindi & Marathi)

This movie was directed by Shantaram. It was made simultaneously in Hindi and Marathi with the same name. Its English name was “Illusion”.

The Marathi version of this film in video format is available. But the Hindi version is not.

This movie dealt with the story of a man-hating women kingdom and the illusions of life as told through a relationship between a guru and his disciple. To disciple, it appears as if his guru married the queen of the kingdom and abandoned his commitment to celibacy. When the disciple investigated this it slowly dawned upon him that the entire experience was simply an illusion.

The subject material of the story called for special effects. Indeed, these were the highlights of this fantasy film. This in part contributed to the success of both versions of the film. To match special effects, the movie also boasted spectacular sets. That proved to be an additional attraction to the cine-goers.

Shantaram successfully experimented optical superimposition in this film where in one instance out of the sword animated sparks came out. In another scene the head of a beheaded person returns to the body and is attached again. Dance sequences were also staged in a grand scale; especially “Vasantotsav”. There was also an elaborate fireworks display picturized that exemplified the cheerful mood of the festivities.

The movie was the first one to release its songs on records, a new technology introduced a couple of years ago but filmmakers shied away until this film. Prabhat Films Company was able to make additional money off these records also as the songs of the film became very popular.

A note about the music director of this film, Govindrao Tembe. As a young man he was fond of harmonium music. He self-taught how to play that instrument. This led him to learn to sing and move in the circles who were familiar with singing and playing instruments. He composed music for Hindi and Marathi films. He wrote lyrics. He also sang them. He was the first one to give music to the first Marathi talkie, “Ayodhyecha Raja” released in this very same year, 1932. In the movie world he worked as an actor, director, editor, producer, singer, and writer. He is now considered to be one of the greatest harmonium players and talented persons.

The songs start in the next post…
swarapriya
Maya Machhindra (1932 - Hindi)

The Hindi version of this film in video format is not available. Except for one song I do not have any further information about the rest of the songs. I am requesting fellow Forum members to share any songs they may have. Thank you.

Here is the only song and a couple of instrumentals I have…
swarapriya
Maya Machhindra (1932 - Marathi)

I am uploading all songs from this Marathi film in three back-to-back posts. Here are the songs starting in this post…
swarapriya
Continuing Songs from "Maya Machhindra (1932 - Marathi)"...

Here are more songs from this film...
swarapriya
Concluding Songs from "Maya Machhindra (1932 - Marathi)"...

Here are the rest of the songs from this film...
swarapriya
Kavyasrushti (1933) - Marathi

This was a short Marathi film directed by Shantaram. I do not have any details of the film that I can share with you. No copies of this film in video format are available. I am not even sure whether there were any songs in the film. If so, if anyone of the members have the information about them, I am requesting them to share with rest of us. Thank you.
swarapriya
Sairandhri (1933 - Hindi & Marathi)

This film was directed by Shantaram. It was a bilingual made in Hindi as well as Marathi. The prints of this film, both in Hindi as well as Marathi, were apparently destroyed in a fire. None of the songs are available in either language.

The story of this film was taken from the Indian epic Mahabharat. Pandavas are to undergo 13 years in exile and out of it, the last year in incognito. After completing the first 12 years, they spend in disguises the last year in the service of King Virat. Keechak, brother-in-law of King Virat, who was a great warrior, protects Virat’s kingdom from enemies. Draupadi under the name of Sairandhri works as a maid to the queen, Sudeshna. One day Keechak comes to visit his sister and immediately attracted to the beauty of Sairandhri. He persuades his sister Sudeshna to send the maid to his palace. He threatens her that there will be dire consequences if she does not oblige his demand. Sairandhri is forced to go to Keechak, but her husband Bheema disguised as Sairandhri enters the scene and kills Keechak.

This was the first color film made in India. It was shot at the Prabhat Studios. It was then sent for processing to the UFA Studio in Germany. Later Shantaram traveled there to talk to them (look at the attached picture). When the prints arrived the final result was less than satisfactory. The partners of Prabhat felt bad about how the color processing turned out. They felt that in color people in the film appeared badly. Also, ornaments they were wearing came out as tasteless. Greatly disappointed, instead of releasing the film for exhibition, the partners decided to take a huge loss and “can” the color film. Later a black and white version was released.

The songs from the film were also pressed in Germany on gramophone records from the original soundtrack. This was another first for Prabhat Films.

When the movie was released it proved to be a flop.

A description of the songs start in the next post…
swarapriya
Sairandhri (1933 - Hindi)

Neither video nor songs of this film are available. A partial list of the songs is given in the table below. I am requesting members to share if they have any of these or other songs from this film. Thank you.
swarapriya
Sairandhri (1933 - Marathi)

I have no information about the songs that I can share with you from this movie. Requesting members to share any songs they may have. Thanks.
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