Dadasaheb Torne

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Brief Intro

Dadasaheb Torne was the first Indian to make an Indian-language feature film according to the advertisement that was published in ‘The Times of India’ on 25th May 1912. He is considered as the Father of Indian Cinema just like Dadasaheb Phalke as both claim to release first Indian cinema.

 

Early Life & Background

Dadasaheb Torne was born as Ram Chandra Gopal Torne on 13th April 1890. He was born in a Maratha family in Malwan village in Konkan, Maharashtra. After his father’s death, Dadasaheb’s uncle asks him & his mother to leave the house. After that they lived in poverty. At the early age of 10, he left his education and moved to Mumbai. He later employed at the Cotton Green Electrical Company.

 

Journey in the Industry

While working, Dadasaheb Torne came across with Shripad Theatre Company. He was impressed by the plays conducted by this company as well as the new foreign films which were being released that time in Mumbai. At the age of 21, he got interest in making his own movie. He shared his idea with his friend Mr.Chitre, who became his financer for the film. He imported raw film and a movie camera from abroad and recorded the play ‘Shri Pundalik’. Later, he released the recorded play in a movie named ‘Pundalik’, which was released on 18th May 1912 in Mumbai’s coronation movie theatre. A year later, Dadasaheb Phalke released his movie in the same theatre.

‘Pundalik’ was shot in a very simple way. Camera was fixed on one platform on the stage and then the play was recorded. There was no concept of edition or close shots, however, after watching the movie Dadasaheb wasn’t happy with the results. So he decided to record it in parts and then to join it, in the film together. As Dadasaheb had worked in Electrical company, he had a knowledge about editing, sound recording and special effects.

When ‘Pundalik’ was released, Dadasaheb Torne was working in Greaves Cotton company. Soon he was transferred to Karachi (Which was the part of India at that time). Dadasaheb Torne met Baburao Pai and along with him he started releasing various Hollywood movies in Karachi. He was the first one to open the movie distribution company. Later, after coming back to Mumbai, Torne started his own movie-camera company. During First World War, Torne established contact with USA and he started importing film related instruments like cameras, roll, film, etc. His company became popular and it gave chance for many new filmmakers to establish themselves.

In 1929, Torne started a joint venture company with Baburao Pai and formed ‘Famous Pictures’. This movie distribution company created history and made the business of Crores of rupees from Silent to non-silent movies. Talkies movies became popular and thus Torne brought the agency of Talkie-Machinery in India and learned it with the help of Americans.

Before that, when Torne was working at the Royal Art Studio in Mumbai, he met Ardeshir Irani. He advised Irani to start his own studio and the production house. Irani liked the idea and started ‘The Famous Jyoti Studio’ and a production house named ‘The Imperial Film Company’. He kept Torne as a manager at both the places. Later, Irani started ‘Sagar Film Company’, again on the advice of Torne. Meanwhile, Torne directed two silent movies ‘Sindabad the Sailor’ in 1930 and ‘Dilbar’ in 1931. Soon later, Torne suggested Irani to make a talkie film. As they had all requirements needed for the talkie film, they trained the technicians of their production house. Within a two months, India’s first talkie film ‘Alam Ara’ was released in the Majestic Cinema Theatre on 14th March, 1931. The movie was successful and created history in Indian film industry. Later, he supplied the machinery to Prabhat, Ranajit and Wadia studios and the era of silent film came to an end.

Later, Dadasaheb formed his own company named ‘Saraswati Cinetone’ in Pune. The company launched their first movie ‘Sham Sundar’, which was the first Silver Jubilee Movie of the Indian film industry. Many newcomers like actors Shahu Modak & Shanta Apte, sound recordist Chintamanrao Modak and music director Baapurao Ketkar started their career from this movie.

The company once again made a record from its second release ‘Aout Ghatakecha Raja’, in which first time the concept of double role was introduced in Indian cinema. Then their third movie ‘Bhakta Pralhaad’ was appreciated by Indian as well as Foreign technicians due to use of special effects. Later, Torne made several hit movies like ‘Thaksen Rajputra’, ‘Chhatrapati Sambhaji’, ‘Krishnashishtai’, ‘Savitri’, ‘Narad Naradi’, ‘Bhagya Zenda’ ‘Mazi Ladki’, ‘Navardev’ and more. On 22nd May 1942, Torne’s Saraswati Cinetone company released its last movie ‘Aawaj’, starring Maya Banerji, Swarnalata and Waasti.

Torne gave break to many talented & popular actors like Mehboob, Bhalaji Pendharkar, C. Ramchandra, Jayashree, Dada Kondke, Zubeida and more. He had produced/directed 20 movies, out which 8 were in Marathi and 3 were in Hindi.

Torne had build his own studio in Pune, where now Chakan Oil Mill stands. However, during the time of India’s partition, when Torne had gone out of town, his colleagues & friends stole all the cameras and other expensive equipment and took it to Pakistan. This shook him badly and he had his first heart attack in 1947. Later, he took retirement from the industry.

The famous writer Shashikant Kinikar has written a biography about Dadasaheb Torne.

 

Controversies

In 2013, India completed the 100 years of Indian Cinema. Dadasaheb Phalke was given a tag of the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’ as his first movie ‘Raja Harishchandra’ which was released in 1913 was considered as the first movie of Indian Cinema. However, Dadasaheb Torne’s family claimed that it was Torne who released first film ‘Pudalik’ in India in 1912. Torne’s family had filed a Public Interest Litigation in Bombay High Court. They had an ad of the movie ‘Pudalik’ which was published in the newspaper ‘Times of India’ in 1912.

Torne’s family claimed that Dadasaheb Torne was not only the first Indian movie director but was also the first movie distributor and audiographer. They have requested the High Court, that Dadasaheb Torne should be honored as the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’. They also wish to bring back the negatives of the movie ‘Pundalik’, which are supposed to be in Britain.

 

Personal Life

Dadasaheb Torne had two sons, elder son Vijay Torne and younger son Anil Torne. On 19th January 1960, Dadasaheb Torne died in his sleep.

 

Filmography

Movies Role Language Year
PundalikSati Ka Shaap

Prithvivallabh

Neera

Sindabad Khalasi

Dilbar

Shamsundar

Aout Ghatakecha Raja

Aawara Shahjada

Bhakta Pralhad

Chhatrapati Sambhaji

Thakasen Rajputra

Bhedi Rajkumar

Krishna-Shishtai

Savitri

Raja Gopichand

Sach Hai

Bhagwa Zenda

Mazi Ladaki

Devayani

Narad-Naradi

Navardev

Aawaj

Producer/ DirectorCo-Producer

Co-Producer

Co-Producer

Director/ Writer

Director

Producer/ Music

Producer/ Music

Producer/ Music

Producer/ Music

Producer

Producer/ Director

Producer/ Director

Producer

Producer/ Music

Producer/ Editor

Producer

Producer

Producer/ Director

Producer

Producer/ Director

Producer/ Director

Producer

SilentSilent

Silent

Silent

Silent

Silent

Hindi/Marathi

Marathi

Hindi

Hindi/Marathi

Marathi

Marathi

Hindi

Hindi

Marathi

Hindi/ Marathi

Hindi

Marathi

Marathi

Marathi

Marathi

Marathi

Hindi

19121923

1924

1926

1930

1931

1932

1933

1933

1933

1934

1934

1934

1935

1936

1938

1939

1939

1939

1940

1941

1941

1942