Raja Harishchandra is a 1913 Indian silent film directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke. It is often considered the first full-length Indian feature film. ⁣

Phalke decided to make a feature film after watching The Life of Christ (1906) at a theatre in Bombay. He went to London for two weeks to learn filmmaking techniques and founded Phalke Films Company.⁣

He imported the hardware required for the filmmaking and exhibition from England, France, Germany, and the United States. ⁣

Phalke shot a short film Ankurachi Wadh (Growth of a Pea Plant) to attract investors for his venture. He published advertisements in various newspapers calling for the cast and crew. As no women were available to play female leads, male actors performed the female roles. ⁣

Phalke was in charge of scriptment, direction, production design, make-up, film editing, along with film processing. Trymbak B. Telang handled the camera. Phalke completed filming in six months and 27 days producing a film of 3,700 feet (1,100 m), about four reels.⁣

Raja Harishchandra features Dattatraya Damodar Dabke, Anna Salunke, Bhalchandra Phalke, and Gajanan Vasudev Sane and is based on the legend of Harishchandra, with Dabke portraying the title character. The film, being silent, had English, Marathi, and Hindi-language⁣ intertitles.⁣

The film premiered at the Olympia Theatre, Bombay, on 21 April 1913, and had its theatrical release on 3 May 1913 at the Coronation Cinematograph and Variety Hall, Girgaon. It was a commercial success and laid the foundation for the film industry in the country. ⁣

The status of Raja Harishchandra as the first full-length Indian feature film has been debated. Some film historians consider Dadasaheb Torne’s silent film Shree Pundalik, released on 18 May 1912, the maiden Indian film. ⁣

The distinction may lie with the fact that, unlike Phalke, Torne sent his film overseas for processing. It was a photographic recording of a popular Marathi play, and the cameraman was a British national named Johnson.⁣

The Government of India, however, recognises Raja Harischandra as the first Indian feature film.⁣