Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurated Northeast India’s first film archive in the Panjabari locality in Guwahati on Saturday.
Much of the archive was provided from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s MPLAD fund. Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha.
“Films are part of our lives and they are our assets. It is our bounden duty to preserve them for posterity,” Gogoi said. “Apart from Assamese films, films made in other parts of the region would be preserved in this archive.”
He also announced Rs 5 crore for further development of the archive, adding his government has taken initiatives to help preserve traditional musical instruments, utensils, attires and traditional agricultural implements too.
Former National Film Archive of India director PK Nair said the archive was a step in the right direction. “Efforts should be made to retrieve the original print of films so that they can be converted into digital format. It’s not at all difficult a task to retrieve the 350 odd Assamese films from different sources. One should not lose hope of tracing these films,” he added.
Nair, the brain behind the setting up of the National Film Archief of India, also suggested preservation of non-fiction films as “these films record human lives in all its facets”.
According to film director Jahnu Baruah, the film archive has fulfilled a long-felt need of filmmakers of the Northeast “as the lack of it had resulted in many a rare film lost forever due to the absence of scientific preservation in the region”. He narrated how he had to rely heavily on the British Archive while making a film on Assamese freedom fighter Kushal Konwar.
Earlier, chairperson of Assam State Film (Finance & Development) Corporation Ltd, Bobbeeta Sharma said that funds from the PM’s MPLAD and the state government made the archive possible. “Out of the 333 films produced so far in Assamese, only 65 could be collected and preserved at the archive, the oldest one being Mak Aru Maram dating back to 1957,” she added.