Did you Know?
Films were first shown in India that too on a commercial basis, on July 7, 1896 at Watson’s Hotel, Bombay. It was done through Cinematographer, a versatile machine brought by France’s famed Lumiere Brothers, Louts and August. There were four, 40 minutes shows every day. The ticket was priced at Rs. 1/- a high value for that time.
First films exhibited
The first six short films to be screened on the opening days were: Entry of Cinematographer, Arrival of a Train, Sea Bath. A Demolition, Workers Leaving the Factory and Ladies & Soldiers on Wheels. On the fourth day there were six new items including the comics Baby’s Dinner.
First screening in a public theatre
The Lumiere show ran at a drama theatre Novelty from July14,1896 along with the screening at Watson’s Hotel. There were four classes of seats going down to four annas for the masses, and high priced boxes for ladies in Purdah with their families. The itmes in each show went up to twenty. The first run of the first programme was 35 days.
First experiments of films in colour
The very first colour venture was by Calcutta’s Madan Theatres in 1932. Their talkie feature Bilwamangal was sent abraod for printing. Prabhat Company under V. Shantaram tried a colour processed film Sairandhri which was taken to Germany for printing. The results of both turned out of be unfit for proper viewing.
First woman cinematographer
B.R. Vijayalakshmi qualified cinematographer 1981. Her first film was Bhagaraj’s Chinna Veedu in Tamil.
Alam Ara made in Hindustani by Ardeshir lrani and released on March 14, 1931 in Bombay became India’s first talkie feature. The first talkie stars were Master Vitthal as hero, Zubeida as heroine, Prithviraj as Villain and W.M. Khan as a singing ‘Fakir’. The first music directors were Pirojshah Mistry and B. lrani. It was a costume fantasy with seven songs. The film was 10,000 ft. long and ran for seven weeks.
First Indian film in English
Ardeshir Irani’s Noor Jahan directed by Ezra Mir with Vimla and Nayampally in 1931 was given an English version a year later for foreign markets.
First film in multilingual versions
J.B.H.Wadia’s Court Dancer (Raj Nartaki) directed by Madhu Bose and featuring Sadhana Bose with Prithviraj was shot in Hindi, Bengali and English in 1941. The shorter English version was taken by Columbia Pictures for world distribution. It was the first Indian film to be released at the prestigious Metro Cinemas of Bombay and Calcutta.