KCA aims to digitally restore 2K 'long-lost' Kannada classics

KCA aims to digitally restore 2K 'long-lost' Kannada classics
Film aficionados can look forward to watching Kannada classics from 1934 when ‘Sati Sulochana’, the first talkie in the language, released.

The Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy (KCA) has taken up the initiative to preserve cinematic heritage to preserve the Kannada culture. “We are planning to digitally restore over 2,000 Kannada movies that are damaged or lost,” S V Rajendra Singh Babu, president, KCA, told DH.

The KCA decided to take up the project as the state’s cinematic legacy is “highly endangered”, as Babu put it. “Original prints of several rare classics have been lost while others continue to disintegrate every day. Most of these films were damaged over the years due to poor preservation.”

The quality of many films has deteriorated due to clicks, hums, buzzing and broadband noise. Babu wants to use the services of thespian Kamal Haasan and ace director Shyam Benegal for the digital restoration of the classics of South India. The meeting will take place on October 7 in Chennai. Babu wants to have a similar meeting with stakeholders in Bengaluru in November to preserve old Kannada films and then submit a proposal to the state government.

Each film requires between Rs 30 and Rs 40 lakh for digital restoration. Apart from government grants, the KCA plans to get Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.

Many Kannada films have stood the test of time in terms of audience reception and nostalgia. But many films face extinction owing to durability issues. ‘Sati Sulochana’ (1934), the first talkie in Kannada has been lost. There is no trace of another classic ‘Bedara Kannappa’ (1954) either. The KCA had to retrieve ‘Samskara’ (1970) from a lab in Germany.

Over 50 films produced by Mahatma Pictures, founded by Babu’s father D Shankar Singh in 1946, have been lost. There is no trace of the films produced by masters like B R Panthulu, B R Ranga and Hunsur Krishnamurthy. “In the past, many producers borrowed money by pledging negative rights. Many negatives are in labs or with relatives of producers or financiers or with television channels. Tracing them is the real challenge,” Babu said.

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