Posts tagged ‘silent Hindi films’

May 26, 2012

Kaliya Mardan (1919)

This Dadasaheb Phalke silent film may be the first start-to-finish ADORABLE movie ever made. I in no way mean that condescendingly: I loved every frame of this and was wowed by some of the special effects (the much talked-about battle between young Krishna and the Kaliya serpent at the end particularly). Phalke’s seven-year-old daughter Mandakini plays young Shree Krishna as a hyperactive mischief-maker who gleefully torments the local villagers with the help of his friends, and she is brilliant—when she’s onscreen, you don’t want to look at anybody else. It is also absolutely hilarious in places, worthy company for the likes of Buster Keaton.

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July 23, 2009

A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash) (1929)

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I have to start out this review by thanking dustedoff and Laura for bringing this film to my attention. It never occurred to me that anything from the silent era in India might be available on DVD, let alone so beautifully restored with English intertitles! A gorgeous soundtrack by Nitin Sawhney which complements the visuals perfectly has also been added. Many of these older films are worth watching mostly for their historical value, but this—this is a treasure and a treat, all at once. It’s also short, clocking in at 74 minutes.

It’s the third film from the collaboration between Himansu Rai and German director Franz Osten, which had already produced¬†Light of Asia and Shiraz. Osten was working with his brother Peter Ostermayr’s production company Emelka in Germany when he met Himansu and Devika Rani, and came to India to work with them on these joint efforts. This partnership also gave us 1936’s Achhut Kanya starring Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani; but when World War II broke out Osten and the other German technicians were arrested by the British and then deported, and Himansu Rai died in 1940.

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