Uday Shankar’s Kalpana has run into more trouble. Earlier, after the film was digitally enhanced, thanks to the efforts of Indian restorer Shivendra Singh Dungarpur in collaboration with Hollywood filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the film could not be screened in India, due to some legal issues associated with the project.
Now, word is that the digital print that has arrived in India is stuck with the Customs, in a postal godown in the Western suburbs of Mumbai since the last three weeks. The restored film was recently screened at Cannes and is scheduled to be handed over to National Film Archives of India (NFAI) in Pune. According to Dungarpur, the reason behind this anomaly is the Custom department’s lethargic attitude towards the much-awaited parcel.
He alleges that despite having already cleared the dues stipulated by the authorities, he hasn’t received the print. He adds, “It’s officially the property of the Government of India but being the person who has been part of this effort right from the very beginning, it’s frustrating to see the kind of treatment meted out to our national heritage. It also bears the official chapa on it. Apparently, the word ‘restored’ on the parcel is what’s bothering them.”
Dungarpur is currently in London for the pre-Olympics screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s debut feature Lodger (1927); a film he helped restore. He informed via phone that the 35 mm dupe negative is also the only surviving copy of the film. Along with it a 35mm positive restored print is currently in the same postal godown in Jogeshwari.
Other than the red tape, the weather is also a worry. “Nobody has a clue what’s going to happen. Lack of communication is a problem too. On top of that, the monsoon is not a very convenient season for storage,” Dungarpur sums up. NFAI was unavailable for comment.