Coming soon for researchers and film buffs: NFAI's digital reference library

After spending three years and R10 crore on ambitious project, NFAI in last leg of its completion

The ambitious project of the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) to start a Digital Reference Library (DRL) is finally falling into place. After spending no less than Rs 10 crore and three years on the project, NFAI is now nearing completion of the project. 

Library home: The Jaikar bungalow on the NFAI premises that will 
house the digital library. Pic/Vivek Sabnis

The last leg of work is still in progress and according to insiders the library should be functional later this year. NFAI Director Prashant Pathrabe said the project, initiated to compile a rare collection of documents and films, was undertaken to help research scholars, filmmakers and movie buffs. 

"Most of the documents and films that we have are old and difficult to maintain. That was the reason why we thought of digitising all the important work in the form of DRL. The digital library will be functional in the NFAI complex at the Jaikar bungalow on Prabhat Road," said Pathrabe. 

Aarti Karkhanis, librarian and information assistant at NFAI, said, "As part of the DRL project, the digitisation of over three lakh documents has reached it final stage. We have books, film scripts, stills, wall posters, song booklets, press-clippings, pamphlets and folders, among others. It is a mine of rare information for research scholars and after the digital library is functional, there will be easy access to all the rare documents." 

Search engine
According to Karkhanis, a 'search engine' has also been developed with the help of Hyderabad-based Ejas Software Company that will help people narrow down their search. Karkhanis, who has been associated with NFAI for over two decades, reminisced how she guided filmmakers in the past with relevant documents and films which were stored at the institute. 

"I remember giving a copy of posters of the film Kanoon to its maker B R Chopra and his brother Yash Chopra a few years ago. I have also made a compilation on the legendary flute player Pt Pannalal Ghosh and his films at the NFAI reference section," Karkhanis said. Karkhanis said basic repair work was in progress at the Jaikar bungalow and the digital library would be functional later this year. 

Jaikar bungalow
The digitised version of the films and documents will be made available at the Jaikar bungalow, which is more than 70 years old and is an important heritage site. Dr Mukund Jaikar, former principal of the Law College, was one of the pioneers in establishing the University of Pune. The Jaikar bungalow was his residence between 1947 and 1956. In 1964, it was converted into the NFAI office. 

NFAI treasures
Film: 18,234
Video cassettes: 2,798
Film DVDs: 1,887
Books: 27,543
Film Scripts: 36,651
Pre-recorded audio
cassettes: 1,098
Stills: 1,38,127
Wall posters: 20,836
Film song booklets: 13,140
Audio Tapes (oral history): 191
Press clippings: 2,05,619
Pamphlets/folders: 8,682
Slides: 8,576
Disc records: 3,214
Audio compact discs: 155
Audio visual history projects on film personalities: 18
Total digitization of ancillary film material: 3,70,220
(Till Dec 31, 2011)
Research students accessing NFAI library
Rachel Ball, a US student, is researching 'Political history of Maharashtra with a special reference to Marathi Cinema'.
Sachine Pote is independently researching 'Indian music with special context to music directors of Indian films'.
Angai Mahajan, a literary student, is doing research independently on her grandfather, noted lyricist Jagdish Khebudkar.

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