'Endangered' Indian Classic Cinema At Italy Film Festival
BANGALORE: Indian classic cinema of the 1950s and rare newsreels including one showing a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Charlie Chaplin in London are part of a renowned international film fest currently underway in Italy.
Eight black-and-white films including legendary Hindi cinema like 'Awara', 'Pyaasa', 'Mother India' and S S Vasan's iconic 'Chandralekha' in Tamil are up for screening at the 'Il Cinema Ritrovato' festival in the city of Bologna.
Titled 'The Golden 50s: India's Endangered Classics', it is the first Indian cinema retrospective at the festival, which is dedicated to film restoration and its history.
The festival has been curated by filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, known for his National Award-winning marathon documentary 'Celluloid Man' that highlighted the loss of Indian cinematic heritage including rare silent-era films.
"About 1700 silent films were made in India of which only five or six complete films remain. Tragically, we have even lost our first talkie 'Alam Ara' of 1931. By 1950, India had lost seventy to eighty per cent of its films and this has been the result of a widespread and complacent belief that films will last forever.
"We now realise that these eight classics too are in imminent danger of being lost to the world if urgent steps are not taken for their preservation and restoration. Screening these films is not just a reminder of a singular cinematic legacy, but one that is endangered and must be saved," Dungarpur told PTI.
Pointing out that 'Il Cinema' festival is attended by cinema lovers, filmmakers, archivists, critics and scribes from around the world, Dungarpur hopes the screening brings about awareness about the conditions of these films, at home and abroad.
"Most of the original negatives do not exist and what have survived are dupe negatives and prints in poor condition," he said.
'Celluloid Man' was hailed in the country and world over for broaching the subject of loss of Indian cinematic legacy and post this film, Dungarpur created a non-profit organisation called the 'Film Heritage Foundation' dedicated solely for film preservation.