A Living Portrait of India
|India Heritage:Performing Arts:Cinema In India:History:The Pioneers|
|Jamsetji Framji Madan (1865-1923)|
He started his career with Cooverji Nazir's Theatrical Company as an actor. Later, he proceeded to acquire the company and built up a vast empire of diverse strengths : import of food items to liquor, real estate, insurance, films and film equipment, and two theatrical companies in Calcutta - Alfred and Corinthian. These companies boasted of competent actors and actresses on their payroll, apart from the noted Urdu playwright Agha Hashr Kashmiri.
In 1902, J.F. Madan organized 'bioscope shows' in Calcutta.
These were held in tents and were extremely popular.
The success of his stage plays prompted Madan to produce his own films:
In 1917 - Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra.
In 1919 - Bilwamangal.
Both films were highly successful.
In 1919 - Launch of Madan Theatres Limited.
Grand sets became the norm at Madan Theatres and mythological stories provided all the necessary ingredients for a successful film. Characterization corresponded to the all-round spectacle - men were of tremendous courage and gallantry, and the women renowned for their beauty and intelligence.
By being the first to employ foreign directors for his films, Madan
was able to introduce a hitherto unknown level of sophistication in
Indian films. Some films:
In 1921 - Dhruva Charitra.
In 1922 - (the serial) Ramayana.
In 1922 - Ratnavali.
Among the first to acquire rights to some of the stories of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindra Nath Tagore - Jamsetji Framji Madan's entrepreneurship was never found wanting. His death in 1923 saw the empire pass into the hands of his sons, of whom J.J. Madan donned the mantle best.
THE SON RISES
J.J. Madan oversaw the modernization of the studio and the theatres, and was willing to pay Rs 65,000 for a Wurlitzer organ as musical accompaniment for the films. He produced and co-directed with Ezra Mir films that were as popular as the previous ones. Mir was to later become the Chief Producer of the Government of India's Films Division.
In 1923 - Nurjehan.
1924 - Savitri.
A fire at the studios in 1925 destroyed much but the company proved resilient. As in 1902 - the show did go on.
In 1926 -
- Bilwamangal. (talkie version)
In 1929, Elphinstone Picture Palace was equipped with a permanent sound system. The process of synchronizing sound and picture - Phonofilm, invented by Dr. Lee DeForest - was first demonstrated in India at the Royal Opera House, Bombay.
In the mid-thirties, Madan Theatre passed out of the hands of the
Madan family - a change brought about by the corrupt staff
and the economic crisis facing the company.
Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema.