One of the reels of ‘Mogacho Aunddo’, the first Konkani full length film which was released on April 24, 69 years ago, is currently being restored, while the search is on to find the other reels. NT BUZZ speaks to filmmaker and founder director of Film Heritage Foundation, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, to learn more
VENITA GOMES | NT BUZZ
‘Mogacho Aunddo’ the first Konkani film produced by Al Jerry Braganza, 69 years back, holds a special place in the heart of Goans as it was the first full length Konkani film to produced. Braganza himself, who is known as the ‘Father of Konkani Cinema’ acted in it alongside Leena Fernandes. However, over the years the film seemed to have gotten lost as modern technology came in and fewer attempts and options for preservation and restoration were available. But luckily, a reel of the film still survived and is at present under restoration in Italy.
The film reel was first handed over by Braganza’s nephew to a journalist and an author based in Pune whose roots can also be traced in Saligao. Though it was in poor condition, the writer knew that it had great value to Goa, and so he handed it over to ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ filmmaker, Bardroy Barretto.
Barretto in turn handed it over to over to Shivendra Singh Dungarpur at the Film Heritage Foundation office in Mumbai back in March 2015. “Bardroy told me that this was believed to be the last surviving reel of the first Konkani film ‘Mogacho Aunndo’. They hoped that we could do something as the brittle reel of celluloid was damaged as it had up to that point been casually stored in a cupboard or loft for over 50 years,” says Dungarpur.
The organisation made several attempts to recover and restore it. However, they did not manage to do so. The reel was then sent off to an Italian lab. “In India there aren’t many labs that intervene much into detail work and therefore, we had to send it to ‘L’Immagine Ritrovata’ in Bologna, Italy where the delicate operation could be done,” says Dungarpur. The Italian lab report stated that it was badly stuck, warped, dry, and fragile. “Though the image was recognisable it was unfortunately damaged, as was soundtrack although it was visible. The first step was to unroll the reel which had to be done manually in a slow and delicate manner,” explains Dungarpur.
The reel was then kept in a dehydrating chamber in order to enable unrolling of the reel and then rehydrated again to enable further work on the damaged reel. It was kept in glass dehydrating and rehydrating jars and monitored on a daily basis to assess its condition.
It was in 2017, after nearly two years that the lab was finally able to do a 4k scan of the last surviving reel. The restoration of the reel is still going on in Italy.
As this was just one reel, attempts are still on to recover and find more reels of the same film. “We put the word out looking for film elements of ‘Mogacho Aunndo’ in other archives around the world, but we have had no luck so far. The family might still have remnants of the film and we are trying to access it so that a full-fledge project of restoration can be put together. It would be of great help if we could get in touch with Braganza family, in order to find more reels,” says Dungarpur, who had previously not heard of this film, and had never done restoration of Konkani films.
He has however collaborated on two world-class restoration projects with Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation where he facilitated the restoration of Uday Shankar’s classic film ‘Kalpana’ (1948) and Sri Lankan filmmaker Lester James Peries’ film ‘Nidhanaya’ (1970) that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and Venice Film Festival 2013 respectively. “I was also a donor for the restoration of Hitchcock’s silent film ‘The Lodger’ that was done by the British Film Institute,” he mentions.
He is currently working on restoring Muzaffar Ali’s unreleased film ‘Zooni’, and Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s ‘Uttara’ (2001).
Dungarpur is of the opinion that there is a need to preserve what film heritage is left. He also believes that there should be a plan in place to preserve the huge amount of films that continue to be produced in the digital era. “This is a monumental task that needs an army of trained archivists, but sadly we have very few. This is why Film Heritage Foundation has focused on training film archivists and restorers since 2015 with the ultimate aim that film preservation and restoration be viewed as a viable career opportunity,” he says.
The inception of Konkani Cinema Day
The Konkani film ‘Mogacho Aunddo’ (Love’s Craving) is a love story of a rich spoiled boy Abel and a poor girl, Mary. It was adapted from a novel ‘Mogachi Odd’ written by Dioginho D’Mello. Braganza himself has acted in the film and is also known as the ‘Father of Konkani Cinema’ for his pioneering work in the world of Konkani cinema. ‘Mogacho Aunddo’ released on April 24, 1950, and the day is now celebrated as Konkani Cinema Day.
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