Bringing the Magic of Mythology to Indian Cinema

Homi Wadia, the legendary filmmaker who gave a face to Indian Gods on silverscreen

Ellora, Temple hindou en brique (negative 1849–1851; print 1851) by Baron Alexis de La GrangeThe J. Paul Getty Museum

Recreating ancient stories

Mythology has been a part of Indian culture since ancient times. The earliest written versions of Hindu Epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata date back to 7th and 8th Century BC, and ever since then, these wonderful pieces of literature have been refurbished and passed on to us through thousands of generations.

Pavanputra Hanuman by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Every chapter, every character from these Mythological tales has a fascinating aspect that takes us to a whole new world. They talk about universal virtues, human nature and emotions which are relevant in contemporary times as well. It was very natural for filmmakers to explore these stories through Cinema.

Mahabali Hanuman Hand painted PosterUltra Media & Entertainment

The trend of Mythological Films in India began in the 1920s, which was capitalised greatly by various production companies. One of them was founded by the great visionary of Indian Cinema, Homi Wadia.

Homi Wadia – a prodigy in the making

Homi Wadia started his career as a cinematographer in Lal-e-Yaman (1933) and also co-founded Wadia Movietone with JBH Wadia, film distributor Manchersha B. Billimoria, and brothers Burjor and Nadirsha Tata in the same year. In honour of their family profession, the company’s logo featured a ship.

Sampoorna RamayanaUltra Media & Entertainment

Even after the Tata brothers left the partnership within three years, the company continued making films, documentaries and newsreels from its studios by Lowjee Castle, Mumbai, Wadia family mansion.  

Raj Nartaki (1941) - directed by Madhu Bose was the last film produced by Wadia Moviestone. V. Shantaram bought the studio in 1942 and established Rajkamal Kalamandir there. 

Hanuman Chalisa by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Homi Wadia established Basant Pictures in 1942 and later founded a film studio under the same banner in 1947.

Maha Sati Savitri by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Test of true love

Maha Sati SavitriUltra Media & Entertainment

As per the legends, Sati Savitri was an ideal life-partner who sacrificed all the luxuries a princess could desire for, to live with Satyavan, a mere wood-cutter, living in exile, already destined to die in one year!

Maha Sati SavitriUltra Media & Entertainment

When a snake bites her love, she challenges even the Lord of Death, Yama Raj to save his life. 

Maha Sati SavitriUltra Media & Entertainment

Yam Raj grants Savitri three wishes, but insists that he would have to kill Satyavan. 

Maha Sati Savitri by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Satyavati puts forth her two wishes intelligently, to which Yam Raj had to oblige. 

Maha Sati SavitriUltra Media & Entertainment

As the third wish, Satyavati  wanted hundred sons with Satyavan, which puts Yam Raj in an awkward situation!

Maha Sati Savitri by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Finally, Satyavan is brought back to life.

Maha Sati SavitriUltra Media & Entertainment

The story sets a universal example, for true lovers to stay by each other’s side, no matter what!

Pavanputra Hanuman 3 by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Hanuman: The Mighty Monkey-God

Hanuman Chalisa by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

There is nothing that this Herculean God couldn’t achieve! Known as the son of Wind God or Pawanputra, his mischievous childhood posed a danger to the entire world as he was almost about to gobble the Sun down his mouth! 

Hanuman Chalisa by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Upon growing up, he became so devoted to serve his Lord, Rama, that he accomplished unthinkable tasks to bring back Rama’s wife, Sita from the clutches of the powerful Demon god Ravana!

Pavanputra Hanuman by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

He even lifts an entire mountain, as he was unable to find a particular medicinal plant (Sanjeevani), to save Rama’s brother Laxman. 

Hanuman Chalisa by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

By simply using his tail, he set ablaze entire Lanka, the land of Ravana!  He goes down as one of the most favourite superheroes of Indian Mythology!   

Swayamvar Jhale SitecheUltra Media & Entertainment

Princess finds the most eligible man on earth

Sita, the daughter of mother earth, Bhumi, and the adopted daughter of King Janaka, reaches marriageable age, when her father decides to invite all the great Kings and Princes of the land to his court.

Swayamvar Jhale SitecheUltra Media & Entertainment

Janaka asserts that the one who is able to lift and string Pinaka, the bow of Lord Shiva, would be allowed to marry his daughter. The bow was so heavy that nobody could even move it even an inch, forget stringing it!

Swayamvar Jhale SitecheUltra Media & Entertainment

Lord Rama learns about the unique marriage ceremony or Swayamvar, and decides to participate.

Swayamvar Jhale SitecheUltra Media & Entertainment

Lord Rama not only lifts the bow, but also goes ahead and breaks it into two! 

Swayamvar Jhale SitecheUltra Media & Entertainment

That is how Sita gets married to Lord Rama, the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu!

Mahabali Hanuman PosterUltra Media & Entertainment

The righteous one

Shree Ram, also known as the Purushottam or the most ideal man on earth, was the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu. After marrying Sita, an unexpected turn of events, made him quit his kingdom and live in exile in the forest for fourteen long years. He left his kingdom for his brother Bharata and was accompanied by Sita and younger brother Laxman.

Sampoorna RamayanaUltra Media & Entertainment

When Sita, was kidnapped by the ten-headed demon king Ravana, Rama crossed the ocean with the help of Hanuman to fight for his soul-mate and dignity. 

Sampoorna RamayanaUltra Media & Entertainment

After a long battle between the two powerful men, Rama finally managed to kill Ravana! This is considered to be the victory of good over the evil.  

Shree Krishna leela by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

The most loved friend, philosopher, guide and God

Though Shree Krishna, the 8th Avatar of Lord Vishnu, is the most loved and powerful Gods in Hinduism, he is often known for his mischievous childhood, stealing butter and playing pranks on his friends.

Shree Krishna leela by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

He was so charming that women fell for him when he played his flute melodiously, including Radha, one of his ardent devotees and lovers. 

Shree Krishna leela by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

From lifting the Govardhan Hill to protect his people from heavy rains, to killing the tyrant king and his uncle Kamsa and offering the most valuable lessons of leading an ideal life to Arjuna on the biggest battlefield of Mahabharata, Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna’s glories are sung and celebrated all across the globe!

Maya BazaarUltra Media & Entertainment

A story of illusions, jealously, devotion and revenge

Krishna’s sister Subhadra is married to one of the Pandavas, Arjuna. Their son Abhimanu falls for Krishna’s brother Balrama’s daughter Sasirekha. However, things turn ugly when Draupati, the common wife of Pandavas is humiliated by Duryodhan, the Kaurava Prince and the Pandavas lose their entire kingdom in a game of dice.

Maya Bazaar by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Duryodhan now convinces Balarama to let Sasirekha and Lakshmana Kumara, Duryodhan’s son, marry, as he wants Krishna’s support in case there is a war.

Subhadra Haran by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Krishna, knowing the real intensions of Duryodhan, asks Subhadra and Abhimanyu to meet Ghatotkacha (Abhimanyu's brother) in the forests. Ghatotkacha at first decides to wage war, but later uses trickery to prevent the marriage of Lakshmana Kumara and Sasirekha.

Subhadra Haran by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

He builds an illusory marketplace called Mayabazar and invites the Kauravas to stay there. He uses his powers intelligently to finally help Abhimanu and Sasirekha get married!

Shree Ganesh by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

The elephant-head God of auspicious times

Goddess Parvati creates a child-human from clay and asks him to take guard and stay vigilant while she bathes. The child is so devoted to his mother that he doesn’t even allow Parvati’s husband, Lord Shiva in the house. Shiva gets furious and beheads the child.

Shree Ganesh by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

After a lot of requests by a grieved Parvati, Shiva brings the child back to life, however with the head of an elephant – Ganesha!

Shree Ganesh by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Today, Shree Ganesha is known as the God of auspicious times. 

ChandrasenaUltra Media & Entertainment

The woman who helped her foe in devotion

Rama and his brother Laxman are kidnapped by Indrajit, the son of Ravana with the help of Mahi. Hanuman, the pious devotee of Rama, comes to the rescue but is stopped by the powerful Makardhwaja. However, the mighty monkey-god manages to defeat Makardhwaja, who introduces him to Chandralekha, the wife of Mahi. Interestingly, Chandrasena loves Lord Rama and wants to spend the rest of her life with him.

ChandrasenaUltra Media & Entertainment

She agrees to help Hanuman, who manages to defeat the entire army of Mahi.

Nevertheless, Mahi creates his own clones and becomes almost undefeatable. That’s when Chandralekha reveals a secret weakness about Mahi, and Hanuman finally manages to rescue Rama and Laxmana from Hell (Paatal).

TilottamaUltra Media & Entertainment

The epitome of beauty

When the two demon brothers Sunda and Upasunda performed austerities on the Vindhya Mountains, Lord Brahma, the creator of Universe, had no other option but to oblige. The brothers wished for power and immortality. Brahma denied their second wish and instead gave them a boon that no one except they themselves can destroy each other. 

TilotammaUltra Media & Entertainment

The demons started attacking the Gods of Heaven as they grew in power and eventually conquered the entire universe.  

TilottamaUltra Media & Entertainment

A worried Brahma, asked the supreme architect Vishvakarma to create a beautiful woman by collecting all the exquisite elements from the three worlds - heaven, earth, underworld. Tilottama - the gorgeous lady whose finest particles were made of the most valuable elements of the universe, was created!

TilottamaUltra Media & Entertainment

She successfully seduced the demon brothers, and both of them were desperate to win her. Ultimately, the demons attacked each other, leading to their destruction. Tilottama was given the right to roam around the universe freely!

Veer Ghatotkach by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

A saga of mistaken identity and two powerful cousins

One of the Pandava brothers, Bhim slays a demon and agrees to marry his sister Hidamba, upon the request of the demon’s mother. Ghatotkach was the son of Bhima and Hidamba, who grows up to become such a powerful illusionist that he could turn himself into a giant or a fly in no time.

Veer Ghatotkach by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Ghatotkach meets Abhimanyu, Arjun’s Son, who is going to abduct Surekha, the daughter of Balram. Gatotkach, not knowing that Abhimanyu was his first cousin, confronts and kills him. Upon realising his grave mistake, he brings back Abhimanyu’s life with Amrit (Holy Nectar).

Veer Ghatotkach by Homi WadiaUltra Media & Entertainment

Gatotkach realises that Abhimanyu loves Surekha and doesn’t want her to get married to Lakshman, the semi-senile son of Duryodhan. He decides to help Abhimanyu and uses his magical powers to irritate Duryodhan and company.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Hindi Cinema
Your ticket into the magical world of Indian cinema
View theme
Google apps