“Bollywood” is the popular name for India’s major film industry. Bollywood began 100 years ago with the production of India’s first silent film called “Raja Harischandra” (King Harischandra) which was released in 1913. Unfortunatly the film was not preserved, and all that remains are short clips (here is a YouTube example). However, NetFlix has a 1943 version of the film called “Harischandra”. Or you can watch the 2009 film (also at Netflix) called Harishchandrachi Factory which is about the remarkable obstacle producing of the film.
King Harishchandra, like Rama in the Ramayana, was a King who felt obliged sacrifice all he had simply to honor an unwisely made vow (see my post on this theme both in Hindu and Jewish scripture). The popular Indian press today is saying that the story of Harishcandra is found in both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. But from what I can tell, it is only found in the Mahabharata, not in the Ramayana. (Please correct me if I am wrong). And further, it is the Markandeya Purana which spells out most the details (source). I am pretty sure that the Ramayana claim is misinformation found in the wiki article and then spread all over popular news sites today. Just shows that journalists use Wikipedia as a primary source, it seems.
As you know, I love foreign films. My Indian film life started in the 1970s with Satyajit Ray’s wonderful Bengali films (The Apu Trilogy & more) when I was still in the USA. When I lived in India I would regularly visit theaters to watch all the popular Hindi films.
Question to readers: Do you have any favorite Bollywood film recommendations?
Note: This post is from my Ramayana series.