Harishchandrachi Factory might be one of the few movies that lived up to all the expectations created by the critics. Although it has already dropped out of the Oscar race, this movie is still quite a gem, and a must-watch for movie lovers.
Harishchandrachi Factory, as known already by most, is about Dadasaheb Phalke, the man who made India’s first moving picture. The hoopla around Indian cinema (aka Bollywood) is so grand these days, that it’s hard to imagine that its roots go back to this middle-aged man with no other means available to him than his deep passion for the art of film-making. In fact, Factory could easily be described as a movie about madness. So profoundly crazy does Phalke become in his journey to make a movie, that his friends think he has lost his marbles and drag him to a mental institute. Nobody sees the magic involved in making a “moving picture,” and the movie deftly portrays the importance of family support for a venture as crazy as this.
Phalke’s passion is so infectious that he quickly manages to get his wife and sons involved, and with their support he ships himself to London to learn how to make films. He comes back, borrows more money and manages to make a full-length motion picture based on his favorite story – that of Raja Harishchandra of Ayodhya. He insists that the movies he makes should be based in India, and represent Indian culture and history.
It is heartening to see such quality cinema in Marathi – especially because Maharashtra has always been rich in theatrical productions. For some reason, Marathi cinema fell prey to slapstick comedies that lacked substance in the late nineties. After the lull, it’s good to see that Marathi film-makers are bouncing back with great stories, and movies that are genuinely well-made. Shwaas might have been good to see once, but it did grate on my nerves when I saw it the second time. Factory, simply due to its quirky appeal, would be great to see again. In spite of being an inspirational story, it’s not didactic or over-bearing. I especially loved the scenes which were filmed like a silent-movie, which quickened motions and a chirpy background score, reminding the viewer of Phalke’s original work – Raja Harishchandra.
The Indian movie industry might be the most productive in the world, but the cinema it produces is not always of the best quality. It’s a shame to see that the audiences dumb themselves down to the kind of movies being made. How else can one explain the success and good reviews of a mediocre movie like, say, Wake up, Sid? Factory works because it stays true to its message. It’s a sincere movie about a dedicated man. If you truly appreciate the art of movie-making, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Factory. It doesn’t pander to anyone’s likes, yet its loyalty to cinema will win your heart and remind you why you love watching movies in the first place!