Unease at Films Division after merger with NFDC | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Unease at Films Division after merger with NFDC

ByKhalid Mohamed
Dec 31, 2022 11:47 PM IST

Although the decision of the merger was announced in December, 2020, by the Union government, the finality was brought home to filmmakers and almost 300 employees, who were distraught when they learnt about the news on its website.

Mumbai: The Films Division (FD) will cease to be an independent entity from today. The central government’s documentary and newsreel-making body, established in 1948, has been merged with the National Films Development Corporation (NFDC). All activities under FD will be transferred to NFDC from January 1, 2023, says a notice on FD’s official website.

Tree Transplantation - Work on transplanting of 19 trees underway on the premises of the Films Division at Peddar Road on Sunday. - HT Photo 13.02.11 (HT PHOTO)
Tree Transplantation - Work on transplanting of 19 trees underway on the premises of the Films Division at Peddar Road on Sunday. - HT Photo 13.02.11 (HT PHOTO)

Although the decision of the merger was announced in December, 2020, by the Union government, the finality was brought home to filmmakers and almost 300 employees, who were distraught when they learnt about the news on its website.

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The 74-year-old FD, which occupies a sprawling space approximated at two-and-a-half acres in the prime real estate of Pedder Road, also has offices in Kolkata and Delhi.

Veteran documentarist Mira Diwan, based in New Delhi, stated that she had just managed to complete her documentary, which had been commissioned, in the nick of time. V Packirsamy, deputy director general, FD, who had recently retired, lamented, “It is indeed unfortunate. Several committees had been set up to revamp FD because we were obviously in a limbo. Ever since cinema halls stopped showing our documentaries as a mandate, there were hardly any optional outlets.”

Besides FD, the Children’s Film Society of India, the Directorate of Film Festivals (based in Delhi) and the National Film Archive of India (in Pune) will also come under NFDC’s umbrella.

But, as Mr Packirsamy added, there is no clarity on the fine print. Meanwhile, the stocks – including rare footage about the early Independence days, earlier footage acquired from the British and documentaries made by eminent auteurs like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Shyam Benegal, have been sent to the National Film Archive of India, in Pune.

“Unwanted material” such as furniture and miscellaneous equipment at the FD’s office in Mumbai have been sold. Of its nearly 300 employees, a few have been absorbed into other jobs while most have been currently slotted in the surplus category.

The multi-storey buildings within the campus are likely to be rented out, although the Indian Film Museum is expected to continue normally.

The closure was proposed by Bimal Jhuka, member of one of the high-power committees, seeking to re-invent FD. It was resolved that the organisation had become redundant and could not keep pace with the technological advances.

Efforts to contact Ravinder Bhakar, current director general of FD, for more details on the shape of things to come under the aegis of NFDC, were in vain.

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