In the era when theatres showed live plays and foreign films, a man decided to show an Indian film for the first time. This visionary was Ramchandra Gopal Torne, better known by contemporaries as Dadasaheb Torne. He was responsible for making the very first movie in India. He alogwith Narayan Govind Chitre, Ramrao Kirtikar , R. P. Tipnis and Cameraman Johnson, produced a long theatrical film ‘Pundalik’. Film was directed by Dadasaheb Torney. The entire film was shot in a theatre at Mangaldas Wadi in Bombay, where the Sangit Mandali, a professional theatre group, was performing a play ‘Pundalik’.
Dadasaheb Torne, a school dropout in from Malwan, learnt the skills for repairing instruments and installing electrical devices. His love for Marathi plays and foreign movies, gave him the idea of making a movie in India. He was just 21 or 22 years old when he convinced his friend Chitre to finance, in order to procure raw film reels and a movie camera from a British company. Although, no one knew how to use the new machine. The British camera company offered to send a man for operating the camera. This British man, named Johnson, became the first cinematographer for a movie made in India. Pundalik was a silent film without dialogue. Chitre and Ramrao Kirtikar wrote the shooting script.
Shree Pundalik was sent overseas for processing by Dadasaheb Torne. Torne’s Pundalik was about 1,500 feet or about 22 minutes long. The film had a shooting script, was shot with a camera, and its negatives were sent to London for processing. Positives were produced and finally released at Coronation Cinematograph, Girgaum. The film ran for two weeks. Some have argued that Pundalik does not deserve the honour of being called the first Indian film because it was a photographic recording of a popular Marathi play, and because the cameraman—a man named Johnson—was a British national and the film was processed in London. Detractors argue that Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, which was released nearly a year later, is more deserving of the title of the first Indian film.