Rare Marathi theatre photos and tapes to be conserved | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Rare Marathi theatre photos and tapes to be conserved

When the recent Marathi film Bal Gandharva released, the most talked-about part was the slide show of images of the iconic singer actor.

mumbai Updated: Aug 28, 2011 01:10 IST
Prachi Pinglay

When the recent Marathi film Bal Gandharva released, the most talked-about part was the slide show of images of the iconic singer actor.

Now, rare photographs of Bal Gandharva on stage as a lady and hundreds of 19th century images including Kirloskar's Theatre Troupe's performances, musician Pandit Govindrao Tembe and writer Ram Ganesh Gadkari, are being restored.

A conservation project, to restore more than 4,000 rare photographs and 1000 audio-visual tapes of Marathi theatre and music performances, will soon take off at a state government facility at Pu La Deshpande Academy, Prabhadevi. Conceived and implemented by the directorate of cultural affairs, the project involves digitisation of photographs and magnetic tapes in their possession since 1965. Officials said the project would cost around Rs 10 lakh.

"It is a treasure for Marathi culture," said Dilip Shinde, head of directorate of cultural affairs, who conceptualised the project during a photo exhibition at a Marathi theatre festival at the National Centre of Performing Arts. "Once the pictures are digitised, we can make them accessible to people in different ways such as books, exhibitions and workshops for children. It will help theatre professionals, who want to study how stagecraft developed decades ago."

The audio-video tapes include Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's performances, and Vijay Tendulkar's plays such as Ghashiram Kotwal and Sakharam Binder.

However, technical challenges are many. "Cleaning of these pictures and tapes is difficult, as they can be damaged by the slightest mistake," said Shinde. "The high humidity levels in Mumbai make the magnetic tapes susceptible to fungus."

Equipment has been set up in the department library at the academy and conversion of tapes from analog to digital may commence this week. "It will take at least a year or two as the music tapes run into hours," said Miling Shinde, a project technician.