pictures were first imported and exhibited in India on July 7, 1896, when the
Lumiere Brothers, the inventors of cinematograph, unveiled six soundless short
films at Watson Hotel, Esplanade Mansion in Bombay. In 1897 an unknown foreign
photographer shot the first short films, Cocoanut Fair and Our Indian Empire. In
1898, two Italians, Colorello and Cornaglia organised film shows in tents at
Azad Maidan in Bombay. In January 1898 three other imported narrative films The
Death of Nelson, Noah's Ark and Call on the London Fire Brigade were exhibited.
The first exposing of celluloid in camera by an Indian and its consequent
screening took place in 1899, when Harishchandra Bhatvadekar (Save Dada) shot
two short films and exhibited them under Edison's projecting kinetoscope.
Hiralal Sen and F.B. Thanawalla were two other Indian pioneers engaged in the
production of short films in Calcutta and Bombay in 1900. Thanawalla made short
films like Splendid New Views of Bombay and Taboot Procession in 1900, while Sen
made his own short film Indian Life and Scenes in 1903.
Short narrative films continued to be imported and shown in India. Some of these
famous films were Life of Christ (1901), Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1902),
Alibaba and 40 Thieves (1903) and Napolean Bonaparte (1904). Around 1902, J.F.
Madan and Abdullah Esoofally launched their career with Bioscope shows of
imported short films. The first cinema was established in 1900 in Madras by
Major Warwick. In 1907 Jamshedjee Madan opened the Elphinstone Picture Palace in
Calcutta. Madan's early films were topicals of historic value like Great Bengal
Partition Movement and Procession (1905), Delhi Durbar and Coronation (1911) and
Cotton Fire at Bombay (1912). In South India, Madras's first permanent cinema,
the Gaiety, was built by R.Venkaiah and R.S.Prakash. In 1916 Universal Pictures
set up Hollywood's first agency in India.