More than four decades after its release, award-winning children’s film Dak Ghar (post office), based on a play by poet Rabindranath Tagore, is travelling across the country to be viewed by children. Elsewhere in a dubbing studio, artistes are gearing to translate Satyen Bose’s Kaya Palat into different Indian languages for a wider reach. These efforts are part of Information and Broadcasting ministry’s attempt to revive the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI).
The ministry is organising a week-long programme called CFSI Film Bonanza. It will take films, many made by masters, from the storage to screening halls across the country. So far, the festival has travelled to the north eastern states, Gujarat and parts of Uttar Pradesh.
CFSI produces features, short film, animations in many languages, but most of the films remain unheard of as screening opportunities are few and far between. CFSI is also working on co-productions.
“There are over 250 films made over the years for children by some noted filmmakers. We have Satyen Bose, best known for his works such as Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, a classic comedy and Dosti that won him global recognition. We have excellent films by Ismat Chugtai and Shyam Benegal, which we are keen to show,” said an official.
“While most of these films, made in Hindi, are dubbed in at least one regional language, we are now looking at dubbing the films in more regional languages so that children can enjoy the films in the language they speak,” said an official.
The ministry and the local administration have borne the cost incurred on screening the films, but the project to dub the movies will require an additional budget of Rs 30 crore.
Ministry officials said the response to the screenings has been encouraging. The screenings are organised by the district magistrates, picking the tabs for expenses such as transportation of the audience to refreshments. Formalities for seeking rights of the films are taken care of by the ministry.
“Some of the films date back to the 1970s, and we want the children to see the works of the masters,” said the official.
For instance, Zul Vellani’s Dak Ghar, has a stellar star cast including names like poet Kaifi Azmi, filmmaker MS Sathyu, actors Sharmila Tagore and Balraj Sahni. The film won the Golden Plaque at a film festival in Tehran in 1966.
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