National Film Archives of India (NFAI) have collaborated with IFFI 2017 to give the general public a glimpse of the preserved material related to Indian cinema. NT BUZZ finds out more about this year’s women-centric theme
SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
National Film Archives of India (NFAI) always keeps a novel theme at IFFI to present the preserved material related to Indian cinema over the years. This year with a theme, ‘Stree: A Tribute to Womanhood in Indian Cinema’, IFFI delegates can have a glimpse of the evolution of women-centric Indian films, at Kala Academy, Panaji.
NFAI has installed several posters of women centric films from different ages and languages, starting with the silent movie ‘Sati Savitri’ (1927) till the recent ‘Chak De! India’ (2007). Some other posters include: ‘Balyogini’ (Tamil-Telugu), ‘Meerabai’ (Gujarati), ‘Ansoo’ (Hindi), ‘Mother India’ (Hindi), ‘Chemmeen’ (Malayalam), ‘Ek Din Pratidin’ (Bengali), ‘Lajja’ (Hindi), and ‘Hasina’ (Kannada).
Library and information assistant at NFAI, Arti Karkhanis informs that these movies have focused on women’s issues including gender discrimination, prostitution, child marriage, widow re-marriage, domestic violence, dowry system, unequal marriage, life of a housewife, female education, life of working women, and other themes relevant to different times.
NFAI was established as a media unit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 1964. It is one of the largest film archives in the world. In its ongoing exercise the NFAI aims to trace, acquire and preserve for posterity the heritage of national cinema. The three objectives of NFAI include: to trace and acquire the film rolls, negatives; to document and classify all this information; and to disseminate it to general public.
Speaking about the dissemination of information, Karkhanis says: “How do we disseminate it to the public is the most important objective. Hence, we collaborate with different film festivals to reach the general public. Besides, we organise film appreciation courses, provide scholarships to those who meet the requirements of the subject.”
NFAI owns around 30,000 wall posters, 2 lakh photographs, 25,000 booklets related to films. This material is digitised in different forms. At IFFI, NFAI is selling CD’s of some old silent films, wall posters, photographs, booklets, research books and printed mugs.
In 1913, the first full-length Indian feature film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke was released. NFAI was however established much later and due to certain conditions, we have already lost a couple of films. Earlier the film stocks were manufactured on nitrate. Nitrate bases are at high risk of burning if they get hot. Projectors were not up to the mark in those days, and hence, these stocks would get burnt even if they would heat up slightly. In this manner Indian cinema was losing a rich heritage.
After India’s independence, the government realised that films acted as a powerful medium of information and entertainment. Hence, whatever is produced needs to be preserved. Since a lot of films were produced even in those days, the government decided to have an archive to preserve all the material related to them like wall posters, photographs, booklets.
Besides, Film and Television Institution of India (FTII) was started in Pune, and the students were required to access Indian and international cinema related material for study purposes. This is why the NFAI was established in the FTII campus.
Karkhanis says: “Film archives are the reason behind how people can watch a 1913 film even today! In fact, it will continue to preserve for the future generations.”