Franz Osten was born on December 23, 1876 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany as Franz Ostermayr.Franz Osten directed 57 films. He was among the first retainers of
. He partnered with Rai on a number of India’s earliest blockbuster films like Achhut Kanya and Jeevan Naiya. Amongst the other films, he showed Life in India, a short documentary film about the Munich carnival.
Franz Osten was firstly trained to be a photographer just like his father but then he gave acting a try. In 1907, he founded a travelling cinema called the “Original Physograph Company” together with his brother Peter Ostermayr. Osten decided to make films and in 1911 directed his first feature, Erna Valeska. Although his career was interrupted by the World War 1.
Franz Osten is hardly mentioned in film history books. Osten was a pioneer in the development of cinema. He took featured film production out of the studios into the world and gave his film an authentic quality with a combination of documentary techniques and narratives from myths and beliefs of ancient India.
The Germans forgot him. He was interned by the British at the outbreak of World War 2. Employed by Bavaria Film until 1945, for casting and setting up its film archive. After World War 2 he became the Manager of a Bavarian spa. The Indian film audience loved him. His interest in India was shared by other Germans in 1920s. In addition to Indian Films, he directed 33 silent features and 10 sound films.
Osten’s silent film tell Indian stories about the Life of Buddha (The Light Of Asia, 1926), dramatizing the events. His huge sets were a deal for escaping from reality: dark skinned women aroused desire, associating sexuality with primitiveness. The Light of Asia is a unique collaboration which managed to satisfy the taste of German as well as the Indian audiences.He died on December 2, 1956.