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Precious reels could be lost forever

Selina IF-Sizzlerz
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Joined: 29 December 2004
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Posted: 25 February 2005 at 10:34pm | IP Logged
Precious reels could be lost forever
   By: Ami Cholia
   February 26, 2005

amic@mid-day.com
Timeless classic: A still from the film Mughal-e-Azam, one of the many precious reels that are  stored at the NFAI
One of Asia's largest film archives, the National Film Archives of India (NFAI), is in danger of losing valuable film prints.

The virtual gold mine in Pune is the only one of its kind, and repeated load shedding problems are beginning to affect this cultural and historical heritage.

"The temperatures have to be maintained between 15 to 16 degrees, while the relative humidity has to be around 50 per cent. But with frequent power cuts lasting three to four hours, the NFAI is suffering," says K S Sasidharan, director, NFAI.

Although the NFAI has generator backup, it is not a permanent solution. The diesel run, 200-watt generator, which is located in a residential area, has not only proved to be very expensive, but also has members of the neighbourhood complaining about its fumes and noise.

"I understand their point, but I don't have a choice. It is my duty to protect India's culture, history and heritage, whether anyone likes it or not. Until a viable solution is installed, this is our only alternative," says Sasidharan.

And to deal with the problem, the centre has approached the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), which has promised to help out.

"The MSEB has suggested we install an express feeder. Although it is normally only given out to hospitals and schools, they will probably make an exception for us."

While the NFAI hopes that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will fund the feeder, they are looking for support from the film industry and the public as well.

Incidentally, the Planning Commission has sanctioned Rs 10 crore for another vault to be set up two kms from the present centre, which will house colour reels for the next 15 years.

"We really need all the support we can get. The vault gets its oxygen through electricity," says Sasidharan. 

Established in 1964, the NFAI has the capacity to store 1,200,000 films in its three basement film vaults, although only 16,000 reels are currently in storage.

amic@mid-day.com

Fire in the vaults

This is not the first time the reels at NFAI have come under threat. A fire that occurred at the Film Institute campus in January 2003 destroyed 600 reels of film.

"Although 600 reels were destroyed, they were all backed up so we didn't lose any images. Older films were made on a silver nitrate base reel, which is highly imflammable.

Those materials have all been transferred to a safer safety film," says Sasidharan.

Classic treasures  at the NFAI

India's first silent film Raja Harishchandra (1917)
The first film ever made by the Lumiere brothers — Lumiere Project (1875)
The first Indian film to win an award at the Venice Film Festival — Sant Tukaram (1937)
Various classics like the original Mughal-e-Azam

Anoli IF-Sizzlerz
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Posted: 08 February 2006 at 9:25am | IP Logged
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