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‘LIGHT OF ASIA’..SILENT FILM ON BUDDHA!: Manoj Kulkarni

On today’s Buddha Purnima I remembered one of early landmark films from the history of our Indian cinema and that is ‘The Light of Asia’ which focused on the rise of Buddhism!
‘Great Eastern Film Corporation’ made this film with the cooperation of Maharaja of Jaipur in 1925. It tells the story about our Indian Prince Siddharth – Gautam who became the Buddha! This film was based on the book.
‘The Light of Asia’ by English writer Edwin Arnold who also wrote the screenplay of it with our Indian playwright Niranjan Pal.
Notable that the founder of ‘Bombay Talkies’ legend Himansu Rai got his first assignment with this film as co-director and..Bavarian filmmaker Franz – Osten was his associate for it! And Himansu’s wife actress Devika Rani did the set decoration for it!

Himanshu Rai, one of the pioneers of Indian cinema, is best known as the founder of the studio in 1934, along with Devika Rani. He was associated with a number of movies, including Goddess, The Light of Asia, Shiraz, A Throw of Dice, and Karma. He was married to actress Devika Rani Chaudhuri.Himanshu Rai was  Born into an aristocratic Bengali family in Cuttack in  1892, (Odisha) he spent several years in Santiniketan for his schooling. After obtaining a law degree from Kolkata, he went to London to become a barrister. There, he met a playwright and screenwriter Niranjan Pal.

That association led to the making of a film, The Light of Asia, which he co-directed with Franz Osten. Rai was also one of the main actors in this film. While making his third film, Prapancha Pash, he met and fell in love with Devika Rani, a great-grandniece of the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Before this film was complete, he married her.

The shooting of this film took place in Jaipur and..in Lahore (now in Pakistan). German cameramen Josef Wirsching & Willi Kiermeier did the cinematography for this!
Bengali artists. Sarada Ukil acted as King Suddhodhana & Rani Bala as Queen Maya in it. With them, Anglo Indian Renee Smith who was named as ‘Seeta Devi’ appeared as Gopa..And Himansuji got the main role of.. Gautam in this film!
This well-made and critically acclaimed film first released in India on 22nd October, 1925 and then in USA on 11th May, 1928.
Tribute to this early work of our cinema!!

About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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