The reel was 3,700 feet long and had a run time of 40 minutes.
Phalke was greatly influenced by the style of painter Raja Ravi Verma in the making of this film. It was first shown on May 3, 1913 at Mumbai's Coronation Cinema, Narayan Choyal, Girgaon.
Due to the film's massive success, Phalke had to make more prints for rural areas as well. He was established as a producer and later came to be known as 'The father of Indian cinema.'
His wife, Saraswati Phalke, was also actively involved behind the scenes. She single-handedly managed food for the cast and crew, which comprised over 500 people. She washed clothes and costumes, helped make posters and had a hand in production.
The original film was in four reels. The National Film Archive of India has only the first and last reels, though some film historians believe they belong to a 1917 remake of the film, by the same name.
In 2009, a Marathi film Harishchandrachi Factory, directed by Paresh Mokashi, depicted the struggle Dadasaheb Phalke faced while making 'Raja Harishchandra'. The title is based on the fact that, as working in cinema was looked down upon, Dada Saheb advised his artists to tell others that they were working in the factory of a man named Harishchandra.
In September 2009, it was selected as India's official entry for the Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film Category, making it the second film, after 'Shwaas' (2004), in Marathi cinema to receive the honour.
D.D. Dobke, a Marathi stage actor played the lead role of Harischandra. The female lead role of Taramati, Harischandra's wife was also played by a male actor called Anna Salunke and Phalke's son Bhalachandra D. Phalke was the child artist who donned the role of Rohtash, son of Harischandra. Sage Vishwamitra's role was played by G.V. Sane. The story was an adaptation from the Hindu mythology and was scripted by Ranchhodbai Udayram and Dada Saheb Phalke. Other artists in the film were:
· Dattatreya Kshirsagar
· Dattatreya Telang
· Ganpat G. Shinde
· Vishnu Hari Aundhkar
· Nath T. Telang
Lesser known the fact there was a debate of being the first film in Indian cinema History, because Dadasaheb Torne's film Shree Pundalik was released on 18 May 1912 in Mumbai, one year before Phalke's film. Pundalik was a silent film without dialogue. Torne and his colleagues Nanasaheb Chitre and one Kirtikar wrote the shooting script.
Shree Pundalik was sent overseas for processing by Dadasaheb Torne. Torne's Pundalik was about 1,500 feet or about 22 minutes long. The film had a shooting script, was shot with a camera, and its negatives were sent to London for processing. Positives were produced and finally released at Coronation Cinematograph, Girgaum. The film ran for two weeks. Accoding to the cinema pundits Pundalik does not justify the honour of being called the first Indian film because it was a photographic recording of a popular Marathi play, and because the cameraman—a man named Johnson—was a British national and the film was processed in London. Detractors argue that Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, which was released nearly a year later, is more deserving of the title of the first Indian film.
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