Envisaging a museum for cinema

Envisaging a museum for cinema

ONE OF ITS KIND

Envisaging a museum for cinema

Walking through the aisles of the Kila Complex, one can imagine what 100 years of Indian cinema would have been like.

A collection of film memorabilia on display shows the expanse of Indian cinema, with a separate section highlighting Hollywood too at Osianama - the grand dream envisioned and brought to life by Neville Tuli.

“Osian’s and myself started building our Art and Vintage Film Memorabilia Collection, Library and Archive in 2000,” shares the brain behind Osianama.

“It has been built as a comprehensive knowledge-base as much as a collection, as its intention has always been to help transform the educational foundation for the arts, culture and cinema studies, with India as the focus, in a global context,” he explains even as one is left enamoured by the vast display of antiquities under one roof, all waiting to
be auctioned.

Among the highlights from the section of Hindi cinema are pre-Independence rare stills including the cast and crew from Himanshu Rai’s 1928 classic silent film Shiraz; signed and dated 1930 portrait of the silent era actress Sulochana; photographic stills from 1937 Gangavataran, the first and the last talkie by Dadasaheb Phalke; one of the first artworks for Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan made many years before the film was completed; possibly the only existing six sheet poster in India of the 1980 Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor starrer Do aur Do Panch; a rare poster of Shammi Kapoor starrer Raat Ke Rahi designed by the 1960s famous poster designer Pradyuman, who also designed the famous BR Films logo, to name just a few.

Also available is a complete set of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s original LP records with composition for five Indian films - Anuradha (1960), Godaan (1963), Pather Panchali (1964), Meera (1979) and Gandhi (1982).

The collector and curator Neville names the ones he cherishes the most, “Obviously, the magnificent Leonard Schrader collection of 15,000 lobby cards focusing on the first decades of Hollywood, more than 10,000 song-synopsis booklets of Hindi cinema from Husainbhai Bookletwala’s collection, the vintage Polish film posters of the 1950-60s; the archives of Orson Welles, Marx Brothers, Marlon Brando among others; the black and white photographic stills of the 1930-50s of Hindi cinema, among
many others.”

“When I started the work an ‘Oxford for India’ was my only version of permanence; today that is just one part of the jigsaw,” shares Neville who thinks that the virtual world has opened up new permutations and outreach possibilities. “Luckily, this was also planned over a decade ago, and thus everything is fully digitised, captioned, part of the new software which will be launched next month as a search engine – theosianama.com.”

Yet, he feels that physical spaces are pivotal, and so he bought Minerva cinema (in Mumbai) in early 2006, “The post-2009 liquidity crunch led to an inability to complete that project as expected. But new options arose recently with taking space at the Kila Complex (opposite Qutub Minar) where a different version of the Osianama (Museum of Art & Film) will be launched very shortly,” he assures.

For now though, cinema fans will have to satisfy themselves with preview exhibitions that are held at the complex before every auction.

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