Prem Sanyas (1935)

 ●  Silent ● 1 hr 37 mins

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Osten's Indian debut launched the Indo- German unit which grew into Bombay Talkies. Pal's adaptation of Arnold's 1861 Orientalist epic opened with documentary shots of tourists in Bombay watching street performers. Then a white-bearded old man sitting under the bodhi tree tells the tourists the story of Gautama (Rai), son of King Suddhodhana (Ukil) and Queen Maya (BaJa), who left his consort Gopa (Seeta) and became a wandering teacher credited with founding Buddhism. The religious epic, with its idealised figures, takes up the narrative in flashback and ends with Gopa kneeling before Gautama asking to become his disciple. The film suggests that the real aim of Buddhism is the de-sexualisation of women. Released in India in 1926, it also received a major release in Germany with a score written by I.L. Fischer and Hans-Heinrich Dransmann. The film was hyped, mainly by Osten, as the 'first specifically Indian film' and the production was aided by a wealthy maharaja who contributed the use of his subjects, dressed in valuable old costumes, and 30 richly decorated elephants. One of the film's highlights, besides Seeta Devi's performar,ce, is Wirsching's use of deep focus, as in the scene where Gopa watches a spectacular contest between Gautama and Devadatta (Roy) in the royal court. A key influence on the film's style was probably the costume and set designer, and future director. Charu Roy. A 90' version was screened in the US in 1928, shortly after the wedding of a Nancy Miller to a maharajah. (The original German footage is given as 7382 ft, while the print with the NFAI is 6569 ft) The discrepancy in the film's length may be due to different Indian and European versions. Some sources credit Himansu Rai as co-director.
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as Gautama
as Gopa
Supporting Actor
as Queen Maya
Supporting Actress



Story Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director
Film Type:
Colour Info:
Black & White
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.39:1 (Scope)
Filming Locations: