NFAI acquires 162 more films

| | Mumbai

In what it claimed as one of the biggest film acquisitions in recent times, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has added to its collection 162 more films, including the original negatives of a six-hour-long documentary on Mahatma Gandhi made by his associate and filmmaker Vithalbhai Jhaveri.

Of the 162 newly acquired films, more than 125 films are original/dupe negatives of the films, as opposed to release positives. Forty four of the newly acquired films are black-and-white films. Interestingly, the acquired films include 15 unreleased films. Apart from large chunk of Hindi films of various eras, 34 Gujarati, 15 Marathi and 6 Bhojpuri films have been acquired by NFAI. The collection also includes Nepali films.

One of the highlights of new collection is the acquisition of original negatives of “Mahatma”, a 6 hour-long documentary footage of Mahatma Gandhi by Jhaveri, who was a photographer, filmmaker, and an associate of Gandhi.

Curiously enough, the NFAI’s announcement about its newly acquired films came on the heels of a news report in a section of the media that stated 51,500 cans of film reels, and over 9,200 prints, “were not physically present” at the state-run film archives. and 4,922 cans containing 1,112 film titles, which are not listed in the archive’s registers, were present in its vaults.

Quoting reports accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a leading newspaper said that among the “missing” celluloid prints of prominent films were the ones made by Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali, its sequel Aparajito, Charulata), Mehboob Khan (Mother India), Raj Kapoor (Mera Naam Joker, Awaara), Mrinal Sen (Bhuvan Shome), Guru Dutt (Kaagaz ke Phool) and also internationally acquired films of Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin), Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves aka The Bicycle Thief), Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai), Roman Polanski (Knife in the Water) and Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds).

Meanwhile, in an official release put on Wednesday, the NFAI stated that it had acquired films that it did not possess earlier in any format. These include the Hindi films Faslah (1976) and Amarsingh Rathod (1957); the Nepali film Maiti Ghar (1966) by B.S. Thapa starring Mala Sinha and featuring music by Jaidev; the Marathi film Aalay Toofan Daryala (1973) by Jaywant Pathare.

Other important films in the new collection are original negatives of Sitara (1939) by Ezra Mir; Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti (1969), KA Abbas’ Saat Hindustani (1969), known for being Amitabh Bachchan’s acting debut; the Dilip Kumar starrer Kohinoor (1960); Kunwara Baap (1974), Prithviraj Chouhan (1959), Amber (1952) starring Nargis and Raj Kapoor, Gujarati film Jeevi Rabaran (1980); Marathi film Banya Bapu (1977); and the Hindi film Zindagi Aur Toofan (1975). The collection also includes Kon Ichikawa’s renowned film Tokyo Olympiad (1965), which documents the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Giving details of the new acquisitions, NFAI’s Director Prakash Magdum said: “The entire collection has come from Famous Cine Laboratory in Mumbai and we thank them for depositing these films at NFAI. This is one of the most important acquisitions at NFAI due to the fact that a large number of films have come in original/dupe negative format”.

“The film industry has reposed faith in depositing the material at NFAI. We appeal to filmmakers to come forward and emulate this example so that the cinematic heritage of our country can be preserved for future generations,” Magdum said.



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