Raja Harischandra (1913)

April 2013 has a special significance: this month marks 100 years of Indian cinema. The country’s first indigenously produced full-length feature film, Raja Harischandra, made by the legendary Dhundiraj Govind ‘Dadasaheb’ Phalke, was shown to a select audience at Bombay’s Olympia Theatre, on 21st April, 1913.
(Note: There is some controversy about this; some film historians believe that Shree Pundalik, 1912, was the first full-length feature film).

But. Celebrating the centennial of Raja Harischandra seemed good enough reason to dedicate this month to Indian cinema. Not just Hindi cinema, as I have been prone to do, but Indian regional cinema. I am painfully aware that the only regional language cinema I’ve reviewed so far has been Bengali, so this is a good place to make a start. April 2013 on Dusted Off is going to be when I set about exploring more of cinema from across the country.

I thought it appropriate to begin with Raja Harischandra itself.

Dhundiraj Govind 'Dadasaheb' Phalke

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The Mark of Zorro (1920)

The highlight of last week was—no, not an old film that I watched at home, but a new film that I watched in a cinema theatre. The Artist. A couple of friends, both people with excellent taste in cinema, recommended it to me. So I wheedled my husband into coming to watch The Artist.

And, oh. What a film. What a wonderful combination of humour, emotion, heart-breaking sorrow—and hope. It’s been a long, long time since I saw a new film that made me gush so much. (Yes, well; that probably also had a lot to do with the fact that the gorgeous Jean Dujardin is very gushworthy).


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Metropolis (1927)

As Samir pointed out in a comment on my last post, Pyaasa was one of the films (in fact, the only Hindi film) to find a place on Time Magazine’s all-time 100 best films list. That’s something Pyaasa shares in common with this film. Metropolis, a silent film made in Germany thirty years before Pyaasa, is also on the list. It was directed by Fritz Lang, who co-wrote the screenplay along with his wife Thea von Harbou. The result is a film like none other.

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