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The Pioneer from Manikganj & Zindabahar
The Royal Bioscope Company was the first exhibition-production organization of the Bengalees established 1898 by Hira Lal Sen (1866-1917) of Bagjuri village of Manikganj, near Dhaka. Hira Lal Sen was the son of a landlord-pleader Chandra Mohan Sen. He was educated in his village, Dhaka and Calcutta, His grandfather Gukul Krishana Sen Munshi of Zindabahar Lane was a close friend of Nawab Abdul Gani (1813-1896).


Hiralal Sen

When the first bioscope arrived in Calcutta in 1896, Hira Lal Sen was attracted to it and contacted exhibitor Stevens and Father Laffaun. He procured necessary equipments and started doing bioscope shows. He exhibited shows at the Minerva Theatre , Star Theatre, Classic Theatre. On 4th April, 1898, he established 'The Royal Bioscope Company' in Calcutta along with his brother Matilal Sen, Deboki Lai Sen and nephew Bholanath Gupta. His Company arranged bioscope shows in Calcutta, Bhola, Manikganj, Joydevpur and other parts of Bengal, Bihar and Assam and in March of 1911 his Royal Bioscope Company exhibited shows at Ahsan Manzil in Dhaka.

Hira. Lal Sen was also the first film director producer of undivided Bengal. Between 1900-1901, he took shots of various scenes in Calcutta and Manikgani and with the help of Amarendra Nath Dutta, Hira. Lai also took shots of ongoing scenes of drama at the Classic Theatre, Calcutta. The shots he took from the stage drama like (1) Ali Baba, (2) Sarala, (3) Buddha, (4) Had Raj, (5) Doi Lila (6) Bhramar, (7) Sitaram were first shown at the Classic Theatre in February, 1901.

Hira Lal Sen was the first documentary, news reel and advertisement film maker among the Bengalees. Those films were. :

Documentary and News Reels:

  • Anti-partition demonstration (1905)
  • Swadeshi movement (11905)
  • Coronation ceremony of George V at 'Delhi (1911)
  • Man and transport at Chitpur Road, Calcutta
  • Bathing people at the village pond of Bagjuh etc.

Advertisement films:

  • Patent medicine of Edward's anti-malaria specific Co.
  • Joba Kusum Oil 
  • Salsapila etc.

The Architect of First Bengali Feature Film Chandra Kumar Ganguly was the Manager of Dhaka Nawab Estate. His son Priyonath Ganguly served in Madan Theatres in Calcutta. This Company controlled the exhibition and distribution circle of bioscope in india, Burma and Srilanka till 1916. The Madan Theatres ventured to produce Bengali cinema. The main architect of the project was Priyonath Ganguly. Under his able guidance, Joytish Benerjee made 'Bilwa Mangal', the First silent Bengali feature film in 1919 under the banner of Madan Teatres. Later Priyonath directed about 2) pictures and turned into a producer.

Dhirendra Nath Ganguly (better knownas as D.G) of Barislal and a close relative of poet Rabindranath, established the first Bengalee ownership film producing company named 'Indo British Film Co' in 1918. His first production 'Bilat Ferat' (The England Returned) released in 1921. He came to Dhaka to sell shares for his Company. In 1923, Naresh Mitra of Jessore took the leadership of making the first story of Rabindra Nath Thakur into screen. The film was 'Maan Bhanjan'
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