In the Indian film industry, the Prabhat Era is engraved in golden letters. Parvatibai Damle installed the Holy Kalash on the June 1, 1929. Damlemama, S. Fatelal, V. Shantaram and Dhaibar learnt their lessons on film making under Baburao and Anandrao Painter at the Maharashtra Film Company. These four left Maharashtra Film Company and each one was possessed with the idea of starting one’s own film company.
Sitarampant Kulkarni one of the well-known Sarafi Pedhi in Kolhapur was an old and trustworthy friend of Damlemama. Sitarampant gave the initial capital to Damlemama and then along with V. Shantaram, Dhaibar, Fatelal Prabhat was established on 1stof June 1929, at Mangalwar Peth, Kolhapur.
Today Prabhat completes ninety years.
In three years, from 1929 to 1932 Prabhat produced six silent movies. In 1932, Ayodhyecha Raja the first talkie was produced. Till date, this oldest talkie is preserved in very good condition. In the year 1934 Prabhat was relocated to Prabhat Nagar, Pune. The construction was completed under watchful eyes of Damlemama. In those days, Prabhat was known as the largest studio in Asia.
From 1932 to1934 Prabhat produced six talking films and became famous in the film world and among the cine-goers. In 1933 Prabhat produced Sairandri the first colour film in India. Today, in 2019 the Film and Television Institute of India stands grandly in the Prabhat Complex. Whenever we meet students at this institute, they are always overwhelmed. They speak with great pride and respect about the film Sant Tukaram.
From 1934 to 1957 was Prabhat’s period in Pune. During that period 26 movies were produced, of which 9 films created history. These movies were taken note of by the international film fraternity.
In the year 1957, Prabhat shut down. Later from 1957 to 1959, S. H. Kelkar ran the studio. Later, in the year 1961, the Government of India bought the studio and established the Film and Television Institute of India. It was Damlemama’s dream that Prabhat should provide film making techniques with all who wish to learn it. It did not happen at Prabhat, but F.T.I.I. stands there, proudly, in the complex that he built.
In 1957 after Prabhat shut down, the rights of all the movies were also sold. This invaluable treasure of vintage films is slowly vanishing. This history of Indian films is getting hazy. Later then in 1969 Anantrao Damle bought the rights of all the movies of Prabhat and screened in the villages for weeks together which resulted into Prabhat era. With changing times we brought out these movies in the form of videos and DVDs.
Also, Arunatai Damle, for many years has been giving public performances based on Prabhat film songs, which have been enjoyed by the people. Marathi Chitrapat- Sangeetachi Vatchal a study written by Arunatai has won a National Award.
Two documentaries produced by Damle family have also won national awards. In the year 2004, on the 75th anniversary of Prabhat, we produced the documentary ‘It’s Prabhat. In the year 2012, we produced the documentary Vishnupant Damle. While carrying forward the legacy of Prabhat, these three awards should be specially mentioned.
Very recently, a new venture Prabhat Studios has been started to edit documentaries. Prabhat had made 15 documentaries and short films and to make a DVD out of those. There was a time when many artists and technicians in the industry sought a chance to work at Prabhat to learn something new.
In a way, it was a gift by Prabhat to the world of cinema. Dev Anand made his debut in the year 1946 with the film Hum Ek Hai, which was a Prabhat production.
The greatness and magic of Prabhat were so strong that in many villages and towns cinema theatres named Prabhat came into existence. Even today many Marathi film music programs start with Prabhat’s lakh lakh chanderi.
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