Great celluloid classics like Mrinal Sen's `Antareen', Mani Kaul's `Nazar' and Bimal Roy's `Do Dooni Char' will soon come alive in their pristine glory under the National Film Heritage Mission.
The Mission, being established by the I&B ministry with a corpus of Rs 660 crore, will digitise, restore and preserve prints from films belonging to not just the National Film Archives but also the Children's Film Society of India, Films Division and NFDC.
Significantly, rare archival footage and documentaries on leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and others associated with the freedom movement, that have decomposed due to neglect or wear and tear, will also be restored and digitised.
The scheme envisages preservation of the invaluable film heritage of the country that is presently lying with various government agencies and private bodies in the country. Sources said that the authorities have now been tasked with preparing a detailed project report.
The Films Division plans to restore a total of 2,500 films, of which 1,450 belong to the `silent era' and 200 that are on video format. Shockingly, there are almost 200 films (400 reels of 4,000 minutes' duration) that have decomposed due to fungal infection and will require digital restoration at a cost of Rs 30 crore.
The scheme envisages preservation of the invaluable film heritage of the country that is presently lying with various government agencies and private bodies in the country. Sources said that the authorities have now been tasked with preparing a detailed project report. Restoration can be an expensive process with a single film running up a cost of Rs 8 lakh-Rs 10 lakh. Added to that is the cost to digitise films so that they can be seen and used by generations to come. "It is a major challenge to use technology that will allow us to use digitally restored material for commercial purposes. We also hope to webcast digitised and restored films," the source said.
NFAI that has a collection of 6,000 films has already restored 48 films and digitised 148 others in 2009-2010.
Besides some efforts by Doordarshan and NFAI, the government involvement in archival of films has so far been minimal. Some films have been restored by producers or major production houses as people realise the importance of preserving visual history. But in most cases producers do not see the immediate value of either providing the Archives with a copy of the master print or preserving their own films because of a general lack of awareness and resources.