Thursday, 6 December 2012

Light Action and Camera with Plant Sciences

 (Series-1: Indian Cinema born with Botany)

Gangadhar Panday 
Actor & short filmmaker. Author runs Babul Films to spread ecological awareness. Email:
    Botany is biotic part of the environment pertaining to plant life. Origins of Biology trace back to around 2400 years with ancient sacred texts from India, China and other cultures testifying to it. In comparison Cinema is just about 100 years old. While biology is closely linked to humans in multiple ways, films play a robust role in shaping our thinking. Films have huge potential to entertain and also to carry messages.
    I request you to do a simple exercise: try to think of films minus botany. You have not even completed the exercise but, I am sure, you have realized how important plants are. It is really hard to conceive of any film without plants or something made out of plants!
    In 1912 when Dhundiraj Govind Phalke [fondly known as Dadasaheb, the father of Indian Cinema] proposed to raise money for his first ever film venture, no one was willing to even trust that something like a motion picture was possible. He was disparate to convince people to raise capital for his film. So he made a short film on the birth of a plant. He planted a pea seed in a flower pot and took pictures at various stages over a period of a month from sprouting to a full-grown creeper. He then joined these to make a motion picture and showed it to the financers. Yes, the experimental trick worked. Potential financiers watched this short instructional film titled ‘Birth of a Pea Plant’ and were convinced and agreed to fund his first film venture Raja Harishchandra.
Still from Marathi film 'Harishchandrahi Factor 
    The subject of the very first film in India was about a seed germinating and growing into a plant! The birth of a plant on reel life has marked the birth of cinema in real life. Even though the experiment was done purely for financial reasons and using of pot, peat, pea, pod, plant as actors was coincidental, for me this wonder seems natural and symbolic of the love affair of film and plants that began in India. Now we are celebrating the centenary of Indian Cinema. 
To be continued...

Are you an artist/filmmaker having interest in plants? Or a Botanists having interest in making films on plant sciences? Do feed back in the comments section!


  1. Really I am very happy to read this article on plant by cinematography and much impress for comments to film making and Botany. I am a Botanist and Much experience in Plant Collection, excursion, herbaria and herbarium techniques and laboratory. so I want to help author through as a Botanist.

  2. I am also glad to you sir.


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