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Entrepreneurship Lessons From Dadasaheb Phalke
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Entrepreneurship Lessons From Dadasaheb Phalke


Dadasaheb Phalke started what is now, a huge and thriving Indian film industry. His film 'Raja Harishchandra' was the first film by an Indian filmmaker. Recently, a film made about Phalke's life and …

Dadasaheb Phalke started what is now, a huge and thriving Indian film industry. His film 'Raja Harishchandra' was the first film by an Indian filmmaker. Recently, a film made about Phalke's life and times, "Harishchandrachi Factory" was India's official entry to the Oscars. It was an excellent film, and through the film, the message of Phalke's bravado was delivered.

I was particularly impressed by Phalke, as in him, I saw, an entrepreneur like none other. This is my extraction of Entrepreneurship Lessons from Dadasaheb Phalke. Hope you like it!

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  • 1. Entrepreneurship Lessons from Dadasaheb Phalke India’s First Filmmaker was also one of India’s greatest entrepreneurs Inspired from the film based on his life:
  • 2. Study, in depth, the vertical that you wish to get into
    • Phalke went and saw the cinema many, many times
    • So much so, one day, he collapsed in the theatre, and also nearly lost his eyes, out of sheer exhaustion
  • 3. Your Team: fully dedicated, must have missionary zeal
    • Phalke’s team was his family, especially his wife
    • Unquestioning, completely believing, gave her all
    • So did the kids
  • 4. Dare: Nothing ventured, nothing gained
    • Phalke took off for London with just a name
    • Strange land, new people, no connections – did not worry him at all
  • 5. Bet your last dollar, the shirt off your back
    • If ever this was true, it was in case of Phalke
    • Household items, from cupboard to utensils were sold to support project
    • The wife and children gave complete support, not thinking of discomfort ever
  • 6. Have a big vision, the means will follow
    • One time, Phalke and his wife dug out all of their savings totalling Rs. 59. And his need was…Rs. 10,000!
    • No panic, no anxiety, just a fierce determination and a conviction that said, “we’ll find a way”!
  • 7. When you’ve bet your last dollar, go and bet more!
    • After using all resources in India, Phalke needed to visit London for final training
    • He went and pledged his insurance policies and borrowed against that!
  • 8. An entrepreneur never worries about rejection
    • Phalke kept pestering the cinema operator till he finally allowed Phalke to assist him there (and thus learn)
    • Once he reached the London office, Phalke just strode into the cabin of the Britisher, and asked, “I am from India. I want to make motion cinema. Can you help me?”
  • 9. Keep demonstrating, actions impress more than words
    • Once he got his motion camera, he took ample shots of the family
    • He took a daily shot of a growing plant, and played out the amazing story
    • Generated more commitment from team, got more converts to his idea
  • 10. More will question your idea, stay with your own gut feel
    • “ When there are live people, drama and music, why would anyone watch a moving picture without sound, on a flat piece of cloth?” was the biggest doubt everyone expressed
    • Imagine…what if he had listened to such people?
  • 11. Be completely true to your team; with rare exceptions 
    • Phalke communicated well with his “team”, viz. wife and kids!
    • But when he ventured to London, he assured them that he knew some people there – well, he didn’t! Didn’t want to worry them on that account!
  • 12. Think out of the box, go to any length to get it right!
    • Phalke ideally wanted women to play the women characters, no one was agreeable; he went to scout for prospects in the city’s red light areas!
    • When shooting outdoors, his son collapsed out of exhaustion; he still completed the last scene before winding up
  • 13. Direct Marketing: you are your own best salesman!
    • Just because you are out there, people will not buy – you still have to sell!
    • Few people turned up for the first show
    • Phalke was not discouraged; he went and printed flyers and sent off the cast and team to distribute these (“direct sales”); rest is history
  • 14. In a startup, everyone’s an all-rounder
    • Phalke’s wife would process the film, cook and clean for the crew
    • The men who played the women characters helped in kitchen chores
    • They painted their own sets, etc.
  • 15. Summary
    • Dadasaheb Phalke was a pioneer, an adventurer, a great thinker..and a startup entrepreneur!!
    • The movie, Harishchandrachi Factory (Marathi) is a must-see, for all these reasons
    • Phalke was offered a large sum of money, to make films in the UK. He refused, as he wanted to give birth to an industry in India. And what a decision that was. Today, India has one of the largest movie industries in the world
    • If you like these entrepreneurship tips, please share this presentation and let others benefit too!
    • For discussions, visit the blog at http://sanjaymehta.me