The worldwide film phenomenon known as Bollywood began with this 1913 silent film Raja Harishchandra. Govind Phalke, who is sometimes known as the "father of Indian cinema," produced this, the first Indian feature film.
The story centres around the hero Harishchandra, a noble king, who, to honour his promise to the sage Vishwamitra, sacrifices his kingdom, his wife, and eventually also his children. By the end, however, having pleased the Gods with his actions, Harishchandra’s former glory is restored.
Phalke was apparently inspired to make films after watching the French film The Life of Christ (1902), twice in one day. He quit his job at a printing press and went to London to learn the technical ins and outs of making a film. Returning to India, he pledged in his life-assurance policies and his wife sold her jewellery to raise the capital needed.
Embedded above is an 11-minute synopsis. You can watch the full 40 minutes that survive at the Public Domain Review.
-via Nag on the Lake