NFAI has acquired 162 films, with more than 125 films in original/dupe negatives. The acquisitions include 15 rare unreleased films as well as classics such as Saat Hindustani (1969), Uski Roti (1969), Amber (1952), Kohinoor (1960), Zindagi Aur Toofan (1975) and more.
In one of the biggest film acquisitions in recent times, NFAI has added 162 films to its collection. The highlight of this addition is that more than 125 films are original/dupe negatives of the films (as opposed to release positives.) Almost 44 of these films are black-and-white films.
Interestingly, the haul also includes 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.
Among the highlights of this collection is the original negatives of “Mahatma”, about 6 hour documentary footage of Mahatma Gandhi by VithalbhaiJhaveri. Jhaveri was a photographer, filmmaker, and an associate of Gandhi.
The collection also includes films which NFAI did not previously possess prints of, in any format. These include the Hindi films Faslah (1976) and Amarsingh Rathod (1957); the Nepali film Maiti Ghar (1966) by BS Thapa starring Mala Sinha and featuring music by Jaidev; the Marathi film Aalay Toofan Daryala (1973) by Jaywant Pathare.
Other important films in the collection are original negatives of:
* Sitara (1939) by Ezra Mir
* Uski Roti (1969) by Mani Kaul
* Saat Hindustani (1969) by KA Abbas’, known for being Amitabh Bachchan’s acting debut
* Kohinoor (1960) the Dilip Kumar starrer
* Kunwara Baap (1974)
* Prithviraj Chouhan (1959)
* Amber (1952) starring Nargis and Raj Kapoor
* Zindagi Aur Toofan (1975)
* Jeevi Rabaran (1980) Gujarati film
* Banya Bapu (1977) Marathi film
* The collection also includes Kon Ichikawa’s renowned film Tokyo Olympiad (1965), which documents the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Director of NFAI 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 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.”
Acquiring films has been a consistent challenge for the NFAI. All three main film producing centres – Bombay, Madras and Calcutta were colonial port cities with high heat and humidity levels that were extremely damaging to nitrate films. With no proper storage facilities, films were stored in labs or warehouses, where the adverse climatic conditions ate into them. Studio fires destroyed many a classic film as early nitrate films were inflammable and could spontaneously combust in vaults and studios and even during projection.
Producers typically paid an annual deposit fees to a lab to keep the original camera negative. If the film was not successful and the producers stopped paying, the labs would send the prints away to old warehouses where they would be forgotten and left to decay. Even families of filmmakers did not take adequate care of their classics. As a result, India has lost 90 percent of our silent films. Stripped bare of silver, decaying in locked cans in hot and humid, unfavourable weather conditions or sold by the kilo in flea markets, India’s rich film heritage is under grave risk and in dire need of preservation, restoration and proper archiving. This acquisition by NFAI is a significant step in the direction of film preservation.
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