India’s official Oscar nomination for this year, chosen by a jury headed by Asha Parekh, is Harishchandrachi Factory, a biopic on Dada Saheb Phalke, arguably the founding father of Bollywood. “Twelve films were nominated, but the jury unanimously voted for this film, which is about the making of the country’s first motion picture,” said Asha of the Marathi made movie.
The movie follows the life of Phalke through his early years, the death of his wife and son through bubonic plague, his visit to Germany, then at the cutting edge of print and film media, and finally up to the making of Raja Harichchandra, released in 1913 – probably the first full-length Indian movie. It re-tells the story, recounted in the Ramayana and Mahabharata of good king Harishchandra who is prepared to sacrifice his kingdom to honour a promise given to a wise man.
Paresh Mokash’s Harishchandrachi Factory stars Nandu Mabhav and Vibhavari Deshpande and won the Best Director Award at the Pune International Film Festival and the Osian Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema. It will be released in the autumn.