KALIYA MARDAN (Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, 1919, India, BW)
Kaliya Mardan (1919)
aka Kaliya Mardan (1919)
aka Childhood of Krishna, The (1919)
Directed by Dadasaheb Phalke
Produced by Hindustan Cinema Films
Written by Dadasaheb Phalke
Starring Neelkanth, Mandakini Phalke
47 min / 6000 ft
Country British India
Language Silent film
Kaliya Mardan (also known as The Childhood of Krishna) is a 1919 Indian silent film directed by Dadasaheb Phalke. It contain Marathi subtitles. Only 4441 ft are still available.
The playmates of Krishna are insulted by a female villager who splashes water on them. They take revenge by stealing butter from her house. When they are beaten up by the woman, they again take revenge with the aid of Krishna. He receives a gift of fruit for his help but gives it away. Krishna then enters the room of a wealthy merchant and his wife at night and ties the man's beard to his wife's hair. These exploits lead to a large crowd complaining of Krishna's antics to his foster parents.
The childhood of the Hindu deity Shree Krishna is portrayed. Shree Krishna is one of the avatars of Vishnu, and is often portrayed as a flute-playing child and a prankster. For most of this movie, that would have been the sole fantastic content I would have found, but near the end, Krishna does battle with a giant underwater snake, and that serves as definite fantastic content for one who has no idea who Shree Krishna is. Granted, I don't have the background to fully appreciate all of this episodic movie, but I will make certain observations. One is that much of the movie's appeal is due to the performance of Mandakini Phalke (the director's eight-year-old daughter) as Shree Krishna; she is so expressive and energetic she is fun to watch.
Moreover, it is also curious to see how a Indian cinema (which is replete with music and dancing) would fare in the pre-sound era. Well, it may be a silent movie, but I suspect if any culture would definitely have had music playing during their silent movies, it would be Indian culture. And the movie is filled with opportunities to do so, as we have Krishna playing the flute during one scene, as well as quite a bit of dancing. Even when the dancing is not explicit, much of the movement has a certain rhythmic, musical quality. Again, cultural differences hamper my ability to fully appreciate the movie, but I do think this makes for interesting viewing.
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