Monday, September 7, 2009

(1903 – 1967)

  • 22.03.1903: Born in Mϋnich, Germany
  • 28.01.1929: Married Charlotte Mϋhlberger in Germany
  • 26.02.1939: Their only son; Wolfgang Peter Wirsching was born in Bombay, India
  • 11.06.1967: Died in Bombay after a massive cardiac arrest

After his schooling he joined ‘Blau Weiβ Films’ in Mϋnich as an apprentice photographer; he studied photography theory in the state run ‘Gewerbe Schule’ in Mϋnich.
In 1923 he joined ‘Emelka Film Studios’ (present day ‘Bavaria Films’) as an assistant cameraman cum laboratory assistant and was later promoted to Film Cameraman in a short span of time and was involved as an assistant/cameraman for the following films:

1. Die Leuchte Asiens (The Light of Asia). 1926
2. Das Grabmal einer Groβen Liebe. 1926
3. Unsere Emden. 1926
4. Die Kleine Inge und Ihre drei Väter. 1926
5. Mein Heidelberg ich kann Dich nie vergessen. 1926
6. Travelogue of overland trip from Mϋnich to Benares. 1927/28
7. Travelogue of overland trip from Calcutta to Rangoon. 1928
8. Waterloo. 1928
9. Spuren im Schnee. 1928
10. Kreuzer Emden. 1932
11. Stoβtrupp 1917. 1933/34
12. Im Lande des Silbernen Löwen. 1933
13. Das verliebte Hotel. 1933

After which he joined ‘Bombay Talkies’ in Bombay, India, as a director of Photography in 1935.

• ‘Bombay Talkies’ pre-WW II productions were:

1. Jawani-ki-Hawa. 1935
2. Mother-Always tell your wife. 1936
3. Achhut Kanya. 1936
4. Janma Bhoomi. 1936
5. Jeevan Naiya. 1936
6. Izzat. 1937
7. Prem Kahani. 1937
8. Miyan Biwi. 1937
9. Savitri. 1937
10. Jeevan Prabhat. 1937
11. Nirmala. 1937/38
12. Vacchan. 1938
13. Mamta. 1938
14. Nav Jeevan. 1939
15. Kangan. 1939
16. Durga. 1939

• As he was a German national living in the erstwhile British colony of India, in 1939 he was interned for the period of World War II in an internment camp for foreign nationals, firstly in Ahmednagar, then Dehra-Dun and finally Satara. In the Satara internment camp; he along with others started a small Toy factory known as SAT Toys, manufacturing wooden toys for children. He was ultimately released from internment in 1947 after which he returned to ‘Bombay Talkies’ which by now had changed ownership.

• ‘Bombay Talkies’ post-WW II productions were:

1. Ziddi. 1949
2. Mahal. 1950
3. Sangram. 1951
4. Maa. 1952
5. Samsheer. 1953
6. Baad-Baan. (This was a ‘Bombay Talkies’ workers cooperative effort to keep the studio alive). 1954

Before ‘Bombay Talkies’ closed down in 1954; he joined ‘AMA Limited’ in their documentary & ad-film division in 1954, where he photographed, co-photographed and partially directed a few of their productions in both color and black n white:

Black N White

1. Young Farmers Club
2. River Valley Projects, (Documentary on the Bakra Nangal Dam)
3. Fishing for Food
4. Malaria Control
5. One Thousand hands
6. How to grow more Paddy pest control
7. Education for Life
8. First Furrow
9. The Mould Board Plough
10. Practical seed drills
11. The Row cultivator
12. Time is Money
13. Improved Seed
14. Our Indian Earth
15. Care of the Eyes
16. Kora Kendra
17. How to have a healthy home(Northern region)
18. How to have a healthy home(Southern region)
19. How to have a healthy home(Eastern region)
20. Village Black Smith-ing
21. Village Carpentry
22. Black Smith-ing in small towns
23. Rehabilitation in Polio Mellitus (16 mm)


1. Fertilizer Applications
2. Fertilizer for Abundance
3. Life of the soil
4. The story of Trombay, (A Documentary on the TATA Thermal power project in Trombay)

After this he joined ‘Mahal Films / Kamal Pictures’ as director of Photography in 1959 and did a few films:

1. Dil apna aur Preet Parai. 1960
2. Pakeezha. (Color), (This film was completed in part after his demise in 1967 and was later released in 1972. Unfortunately the remaining scenes which were shot after his demise are clearly noticeable for their lack of technical skill in the final released version of the movie)

During his Professional career Josef Wirsching predominantly used ‘Arriflex’ cameras when available for many of the movies he cinematographed and during that time he made a lot of practical suggestions about innovative changes for these cameras to the manufacturers; Arnold and Richter, who were good friends of his, these changes were adopted in later models of their cameras.

In the early 1930’s he planned to branch out on his own but soon gave up the idea and instead dabbled in the emerging 3D and color technologies of the time; of which, unfortunately there is no photographic evidence, due to an air-bombing raid during World War II that completely destroyed the house, and with it, all of Josef Wirsching’s records and possessions in Germany.


  1. Hi, this is a noble initiative. Just wondering if you would have any working stills of the movies Ziddi and Baad-baan, both starring Dev Anand. I am working on a book on Dev Anand and looking for some old stills.
    Pl let me know at


    Sidharth Bhatia

    1. Hi Sidharth thanks for your note and awfully sorry for not having gotten back in touch with you for so long as I seem to have completely missed reading your post, anyways unfortunately we don't have many stills of my granddads work from most of his post WW II works, and therein unfortunately we have n images of either of the 2 movies you mentioned.


      Georg Wirsching