Hiralal Sen
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 05 October 2007

Though Shokharam Vatt Vadekar had first tried to made film, but in Bangladesh even this continent Hiralal Sen is yet illustrious as the progenitor of Cinematography. Not only in Cinematography, he also preceded an important leading role in Photography.

He was born in 1866 at Bogjury in Manikgonj. His grandfather Gokul Krishno Sen was a famous landlord andrenowned advocate. He had three sons and three daughters. Sen was his second son. He accomplished M.A. and B.L. then joined in Dhaka Court as lawyer. He had got married with Bidhu-Mukhi, daughter of Sham Chand well known sheristadar (record keeper) of Dinajpur.  Between Chandro Mohon’s four sons and four daughters, Hiralal Sen was the second. Distinguish litterateur and folk song compiler Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen was his cousin and classmate. After completion of their primary education in Manikgonj, they got admitted at Collegiate School in Dhaka. From the description of, we are acquainted about Hiralal Sen’s fondness for Photography and the fame, influence and
cultural environs of his family.

in his tender age had exhibited a past time of “Ram-Bonobash” by illustration with lantern light, paper and cloth. This game show was fascinated Hiralal Sen intensely. Ensued that he established and celebrated in the field of Photography and Cinematography, but this passion and inclination had founded on the patronage of  Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen. That was the evolution period of photography, bioscope invention. In 1956 first photograph was taken in Dhaka. He had initiated himself to studied about
photography and camera.

Approximately in 1890 or ere then Hiralal Sen and his brother Motilal Sen established a photographic studio at Bogjury in Manikganj. It was named “H. L. Sen & Brothers: Amorabotty Fine Arts Association”. Behind the mountboard of that studio’s photographs were pictured with flower, bird and printed that- “Photographed by Hiralal Sen & Brothers, Amorabotty Fine Art Association, Bogjury, Manikganj. ‘Blest be the Art that can immortalize the Art that baffles time’s tyrannical aim to quench it.’

When Hiralal Sen was renowned in his photography business, then bioscope show have started in Washington, New York, London and Paris. In this continent Mr. Moris Sistier represented first bioscope show in 7th July 1896 at Watson Hotel in Bombay. At the same time Pr. Father Lafo brought bioscope to show his student of Saint Javier’s College in Calcutta. While an English man named Stephens exhibited bioscope in Star theatre. Then handbills were allotted in Calcutta about the arrival news of Bioscope.

Innately Hiralal and Motilal were amazed and surprised by Bioscope show. Hiralal Sen went to Stephens to know detail information about Bioscope. As a businessman Mr. Stephens revealed nothing to Hiralal. But couldn’t dispirited him. He brought instruments from foreign country and had started to exhibit Bioscope with his brother Motilal Sen, Debokilal Sen and his nephew Bholanath Gupta. In 4th April 1898 he established “ Royal Bioscope Company” and exhibited Bioscope at Classic Theatre in Calcutta. That was the beginning of his efficacy. In 1898 Bioscope first displayed at Crown Theatre of Shadarghat in Dhaka. This company displayed Bioscope many other places in Dhaka. Such as Bogjury the native land of Hiralal, Joydebpur Palace, Dhaka Nabab Bari etc.

Hiralal Sen was not ceased only Bioscope show, he even thought about filmmaking. When he had started filmmaking that’s not sure. There are different opinions on this point. It’s known from source that, when the craftsman of Frerence Studio came from Paris to shoot and exhibited cinema in Calcutta, then Hiralal had joined with them and shoot the very first dance scene of his first cinema “Parosser Ful” (The flower of Paris) by their help. But Omorendronath Dutt a great actor of that time displayed which soot scenery in classic theatre of Calcutta, it give evidence that he had manufactured Bioscope in 1901. His cinematographs were displayed in 9th February 1901. Among them “Bhromor”, “Alibaba”, “Hori-raj”, “Dol-lila”, “Buddha”, “Shita-ram” etc are mentionable.

Hiralal Sen imported instruments from “Wear Wick Trading Company” of England to made Bioscope. Another information is, he sold his mother necklace to brought camera and with this he had took movie shot from “Shita-ram” played in Classic Theatre. He was shot his next movie shot from the play “Ali-baba”.

Some historians approved that, in 1904 he made a complete film named “Ali-baba o Chollish Chor” (Ali-baba and Forty thieves). But this film wasn’t demonstrated anywhere.

Kushum Kumari was a famous artist at that time. She appeared as a film actress by Hiralal Cinematograph.

It’s known that, Hiralal Sen made different types cinematograph. Such as story film, documentary film, advertisement etc. Those were 50 to 250 feet in length. He made a documentary on the basis of a dignified moment of ‘Swadeshis Movements’. It’s known by advertisement that, he also made a cinematograph based on ‘Bongo Vongo Andolon’. This advertisement demonstrated that “Royal Bioscope Company” was the first and one only filmmaking organization of that time. Even he was the first advertisement maker. “Joba-kushum Tell” (Joba-kushum Oil), Shalshaparila, Edwards Anti Malaria Specific Botiqa etc were the mentionable advertisement manufactured by him.

So many actor-actress, proficient artist and skilled craftsman had become manifested through Hiralal Sen. among them Motilal Sen was remarkable. He had received leadership of “Royal Bioscope Company” in 1930 and established himself in show business. His nephew Bholanath Gupta had developed and got proficient by his deliberation. He was the first Bengali Cinema operator. Anil Chatterjee and Nolini Chatterjee another two disciple of Hiralal Sen were establish Imperial Bioscope.


He wasn’t happy in his old age. Contradiction with his brother and business distraction disappointed and depressed him. He became poor. Eventually, he compelled to pawn his cameras. In 1917, all photographs taken by Hiralal Sen had destroyed unfortunately before his death. It’s really a wretched lose for our film industry. He died of cancer in 1917. He leaded a foremost role to progress our cinematography. So he considered the distinguished personality and pioneer of Bengali film.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 06 October 2007 )