First Bioscope Show

The cinema, one of the wonders of our times, came to this subcontinent back in 19th century. The first bioscope show was held at Watson Hotel in Bombay on 7th July, 1896. A little later the bioscope arrived in Calcutta, the capital city of undivided Bengal. John Stevens, Hudson and Father Laffaun of Saint Xavier's College were the pioneers of bioscope shows in Calcutta.

Its gathered that Stevens exhibited bioscope shows also in Dhaka during the year of 1896-97 with a touring Theatre company though the documentary evidence of Stevens' shows are not available. According to Bengali weekly Dhaka Prokash, the Dhakaities had their first views of bioscope in 1898 at The Crown Theatre which was located at Patuatuli near Sadarghat in Dhaka city. The exhibition was arranged by a Calcutta-based company named Bredford Bioscope Company.

It is interesting to note the main features of the show:
  • The Diamond jubilee procession of Queen Victoria.
  • The Greek-Turkish war.
  • Princess Diana's jump above 300 feet.
  • Coronation ceremony of Russian Tsar. 
  • Activities of a mad barber.
  • Storm over the sea.
  • Game between a lion and its owner.
  • Crowd in the street of France.
  • Ride on the horse of French soldiers.
  • Rail passengers of France.
  • Play on the ice of England. 

The rate of admission tickets of that show ranged from 8 anna to 3 Rupees. It may be mentioned here that the price of rice was about Rupees two and anna 4 per maund and the monthly income of a daily labourer was Rs 1012. The details of that bioscope shows were reported in the weekly 'Dhaka Prokash' of 24th April, 1898.

The people of Bhola saw the bioscope also in April of 1898. Hira Lal Sen's Royal Bioscope Company arranged the shows in the bunglow of the Sub-Divisional Officer of Bhola. Hira Lal Sen also arranged bioscope shows at his native village Bagjuri, Manikganj at the same time. The Royal Bioscope Company also exhibited shows at the Joydevpur palace of Bhawal Raj Rajendra Narayan Chowdhury on 15th April, 1900.

There was another report of Bioscope show which was held on 12th May, 1902 at the premises of Jagannath College, Dhaka. The Admission tickets charged, 1st class Re one, 2nd class-Anna 8, 3rd class-Anna 4, 4th class-Anna 3, Ladies gallery-Anna 8.


A Site by Ahmed Arup Kamal for Bangladesh.Net