Rs 660-crore 'mission' to restore classics

A scene from Mrinal Sens Khandhar.

Rs 660-crore 'mission' to restore classics

A scene from Mrinal Sen’s Khandhar.

The mission is being launched in the backdrop of the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) already having started restoring a number of classics, including Mrinal Sen’s “Khandhar” in association with Reliance Media Works, just screened in the Classics section of the ongoing 63rd Cannes Film Festival.

The mission will encompass digitalisation, restoration and preservation of films now in custody of governments and private agencies, many of them stored in unscientific conditions. “The Planning Commission has given its approval in principle to the mission, which will lead to acquiring of films and their preservation and restoration,” NFAI director Vijay Jadhav told Deccan Herald.

The mission comes at the most appropriate time, he says, as NFAI has already begun restoring many rare films. “It is high time that we use latest technology to preserve our audio-visual heritage content, otherwise we will lose many of our precious films,” Jadhav says.

Ideally, he says, a film print needs to be assessed at least every alternate year to check its condition, and to decide on which ones need to be given preference in the restoration and digitalisation process.

“It is just like treating a disease at the very initial stage, not waiting for the condition of the patient to deteriorate so much that he ends up in the ICU. The restoration process likewise becomes more expensive and cumbersome if the condition of the print or the negative is too bad,” says Jadhav.

NFAI, formed in 1964, has only about 6,500 film titles. “Even many National Award winning films are not with NFAI...Our plan is to at least get all National Award winners and Indian Panorama films for preservation,” Jadhav says.

Last year, NFAI digitalised 148 films. This year, the target is to digitalise about 150 films.

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