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National Museum of Indian Cinema to finally open this year

The museum was conceived in 1997. It will be located in Mumbai.

kolkata Updated: Sep 08, 2017 12:14 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Museum,Indian Cinema,Mumbai
A still from India’s first feature film, Raja Harishchandra directed by Dadasaheb Phalke.(Courtesy: The Silent Film, a book on Dadasaheb)

The National Museum of Indian Cinema (MNIC), a first-of-its-kind in India, is all set to open this year, ending a long wait of two decades.

The authorities will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the museum that comprises 12 galleries and two theatres in two buildings on the campus of Films Division in Mumbai.

Read: Cine frames: Artefacts from Indian Cinema

“Finishing touches are being applied and the museum should be ready in three to four weeks. We’ll then submit a formal letter to the PMO seeking a date from the prime minister,” said Anil Kumar N, Films Division’s nodal officer for NMIC.

A still from Dangal (2016) that has become the most successful Indian film in terms of revenue. (File Photo)

The buildings include the historic Gulshan Mahal and a new-built one. Kolkata-based National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) was entrusted with designing the museum and the galleries.

The museum was conceived in 1997. The restoration of Gulshan Mahal, where Films Division was born in 1948, started in 1998, along with building a collection of exhibits. However, various complications kept on impeding the process. The plan was revived in 2012, the year Indian cinema turned 100. The museum, including a new building, was to come up by 2014 but a series of changes in planning led to the delay.

“We are almost done and will handover the museum to Films Division authorities very soon,” said NCSM’s Indranil Sanyal, who is heading the curation.

Read: Tech edge, new events: National Museum goes from ‘boring’ to fun

“It’s a story telling museum. Here artifacts have been used to supplement the story,” Sanyal said.

Several vintage equipment - some 70-80 years old - that were used to produce some of India’s earliest documentaries, will be exhibited along with costumes the stars wore in iconic Bollywood scenes.

In Gulshan Mahal, the 19th century heritage bungalow, a sequential narration of the history of Indian cinema will be told through eight galleries.

The new building will house four large galleries. They are themed on cinema across India, technology and creativity in Indian cinema, children’ film studio and one on Gandhi in cinema.

Read: Independence Day: How Indian cinema captured 70 years, a billion dreams

The museum got several of its exhibits through donations, while they had to acquire some. The exhibits include early era camera, light, sound and editing equipment, costumes, posters, matchboxes containing photos of film stars, booklets and memorabilia.

“It’s going to be an interactive museum. Film-related programmes, including screenings and masterclasses, will be held throughout the year,” said Swati Pandey, director of administration, Films Division.

Seven short documentaries have been commissioned on make-up, costume designing, dual role, and technological aspects that will be continuously played at the museum.

“My documentary focusses on how government institutions in Independent India supported film making, especially parallel cinema and documentaries - from training students and producing films to distribution and broadcasts,” said Jaydip Mukherjee, who directed the 12-minute documentary titled The New Nation and Its Cinema, for NMIC.

The museum is not collecting old films but will screen them regularly from the collection of the National Film Archive of India.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 12:14 IST