By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Sep 30 (IANS): A grand statue honouring Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, famous as Dadasaheb Phalke, the revered father of Indian film industry, will come up in Bandra West by the year-end, said a top film organisation head.
Simultaneously, a swank new township of over 10,000 homes -- being built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) -- is also taking shape near Shelu, Raigad, as the 'Dadasaheb Phalke Housing Complex'.
"We are all here because of the flame lit by Dadasaheb Phalke. We feel it's our duty to do something, especially since the younger generations know little about his massive contribution to Indian cinema," B.N. Tiwari, President, Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees, told IANS.
The proposed statue is likely to be inaugurated on February 16 to coincide with the 78th death anniversary of Dadasaheb Phalke, or April 30 marking his 152nd birth anniversary, said Tiwari.
The 15-feet tall statue in black granite stone, erected on a three-feet pedestal with appropriate lighting, landscaping and other attractions will stand in a garden near the iconic Mehboob Studios in Bandra West, said Tiwari.
"We feel the site is very appropriate as Bandra is considered the heart of the film industry, with some of the topmost personalities, including actors, producers, directors and others, living there since over a century," Tiwari said.
Incidentally, Mehboob Studios was founded in 1954 by the acclaimed filmmaker Mehboob R. Khan, who wrote, produced and directed the cult movie 'Mother India' (1957), which became the first Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Feature Film category.
Till now, Mumbai has had a couple of modest statues of the man who laid the foundation for what is today the world's biggest film industry -- one in Dadar East and another in the 'Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari' in Goregaon East.
"We are thrilled to learn of these two initiatives by the film industry, who are the 'real children' of Dadasaheb. We hope the government of India also considers the long-pending proposal of conferring Bharat Ratna posthumously on Dadasaheb," said the film legend's grandson Chandrashekhar Pusalkar.
According to Chandrashekhar Pusalkar and his wife Mridula Pusalkar, it's gratifying to learn that people in the film industry still acknowledge Dadasaheb Phalke's legacy, 108 years after he scripted history with India's first feature film, 'Raja Harishchandra' (1913), marking the dawn of the film industry in the country.
Asia's biggest film body, the seven-decade-old FWICE has 32 different organisations under its fold with over 500,000 members. The two projects shall be dedicated as part of the 75th anniversary of India's Independence, said the FWICE head.
"Many of the poor people in the industry are unable to afford a decent house in Mumbai. So we plan to allot them 1-BHK flats for below Rs 10 lakh in the Raigad township, which will have over two-dozen 16-storey towers, a hospital, a school, garden and other civic amenities," Tiwari added.
In the statue endeavour, the FWICE initiative is supported by the founder of the Dadasaheb Phalke Icon Award Films Organisation (DPIAF), Kalyanji Jana, global founder Ankita Jana, Union Minister for Dairy Parshottam Rupala, and Mumbai North BJP MP Gopal Shetty, among others.
Since 1969, the government of India confers the lifetime achievement honour to top cinema personalities vide the much-coveted 'Dadasaheb Phalke Award' annually, the highest film award in the country.