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Museum tribute to film history

india Updated: Jun 24, 2010 01:31 IST
Nandini R Iyer

A century-old haveli in Mumbai will become a living museum tribute to Indian cinema to mark the centenary of India’s first feature film Raja Harish Chandra.

In 2013, the centenary of Dada Saheb Phalke’s film, Gulshan Mahal in Mumbai will house the Museum of Moving Images (MOMI).

The project will showcase the history of Indian cinema even as India seeks to project Bollywood as a contemporary of world cinema rather than a localised industry.

The museum will include films in almost every Indian language, silent films, former blockbusters, film posters and memorabilia.

It will also have vintage equipment and costumes.

At a recent meeting of the information and broadcasting ministry's consultative committee, concerns were expressed about the loss of vluable film heritage. Of the 1,000 films produced in India during the silent era (that followed Raja Harish Chandra), only 10 are available. The rest are believed to be lost forever. There are also no copies of films like Alam Ara (1931), the first India talkie.

A senior ministry official told HT that about 8,000 films would be digitised and another 200 digitally restored. An ambitious project indeed, if one takes into account that it costs about Rs 13 lakh to restore a single film.

“Restoration involves cleaning, removing defects like pinholes and dust. Then the films have to be colour corrected… many have faded. Then the sound has to be restored and then transferred to a digital mode for perpetuity,” said another official who was involved with the cost estimation of the project.

On the first list for restoration are films such as: G.V. Iyer’s Adi Shankaracharya; Satyajit Ray’s Agantuk, Ghare Baire, Suraj ka Saatvaan Ghoda; Kalpana Lajmi’s Rudaali; Mrinal Sen’s Padatik; Shyam Benegal’s The Making of the Mahatma; Bimal Roy’s Do Dooni Char; Basu Chatterjee’s Triyacharitra and Tok Jhal Misti.

The National Film Archive of India has restored 48 films in the current financial year.