Amitabh Bachchan and the struggle to preserve the legacy of Indian cinema
Amitabh Bachchan kept his sixty films for several decades in an air condition room in his bungalow in West Mumbai.He has been awared by FIAF for his noble work on 19th March 2021
Five years ago, Amitabh Bachchan handed over the prints of these films to an NGO which keeps them at a controlled temperature.
This NGO, named 'Film Heritage Foundation', works to save and save Indian films.
Started by award winning filmmaker, compiler and mentor Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, this NGO is a pioneer in doing this kind of work.
According to director Christopher Nolan, now this institution has made its mark internationally and Amitabh Bachchan is its brand ambassador in a way.
Preserving Films :
Films were being destroyed in India and he had been raising the issue of their patronage for many years. On Friday, Amitabh Bachchan was honored for his lesser known work.
78-year-old Amitabh Bachchan has been given the International Federation of Film Archive Awards this year.
Nolan and fellow filmmaker Martin Scorsese gave the award. Before Amitabh Bachchan, this award has been received by Ingmar Bergman, Agnes Varda and Jan Lu Goddard in addition to these two famous filmmakers.
According to Dungarpur, Amitabh Bachchan has always been interested in saving films.
In a conversation, Amitabh Bachchan expressed disappointment over the fact that he could not watch some of the great actor Dilip Kumar's films just because he was lost forever.
Films Negatives have higher resolution than digitalized one :
Dungarpur says that many film labs threw negatives after preparing a digital version of their archives as they felt that they were no longer useful. He says, "They did not know that the resolution of the original negative was much higher than the digital present today."
Now most of the people who patronize films in India work on print only.
In the last six years, Dungarpur and other film preservation experts in the world have trained more than three hundred people in India in the preservation of films.
The institution of Dungarpur has preserved more than five hundred films of India's top filmmakers. The original footage of India's freedom movement at the center of the Mumbai-based organization has also been preserved.
According to Dungarpur, only 29 of the total 1138 silent films made in India are preserved. Eighty percent of the two thousand films made in Mumbai between 1931 and 1950 are no longer available for viewing.
Last year, Dungarpur and his team found more than two hundred films in a poor condition in a warehouse in Mumbai. Says Dungarpur, 'Somebody threw those prints and negatives just like that'.
According to government figures, more than 31 thousand reels and films listed in the Film Archive of India have been lost or destroyed.
In 2003, 600 films were destroyed in a fire at the Government Archive. These include some reels of the original copy of the classic film Raja Harishchandra made in 1913.
There are ten big film industries in India including Bollywood. Every year, more than two thousand films are made in 36 languages. But there are only two archives of films in India.
One is government-run in Pune and the other is running Dungarpur. Dungarpur says that in view of the rich history of India's films, these are inadequate.
It is not surprising that most of India's historical films have been destroyed due to poor patronage.