The entire project is funded by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry and the idea behind it is to make it easy to send films for festivals and to film clubs in the country in CD, DVD and Blu-ray formats.
The ministry is also allocating funds to digitise select film made by Children’s Film Society (CFS), Films Division (FD) and National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
Some of the rare and classic films that will be digitised include silent films by Dadasaheb Phalke and those of K L Saigal, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Guru Dutt, and films made by legendary Hindi, Marathi and regional languages directors.
“The I&B Ministry is digitising a total of 2,000 films, including NFAI, FD, NFDC and CFS. Approximately, Rs 500 crore will be spent on the entire project. Several national and international film festivals want films from the NFAI and the demand is only increasing.
Besides, over 1,000 film clubs in the country want to screen these films for their members,” NFAI Director Pradeep Pathrabe said. “Instead of sending film reels, we can make CDs and DVDs or convert the movie into Blu-rayformat, and send them for festivals and to film clubs. This will automatically save the postage cost and each film can be sent in just Rs 25. Digitisation will enhance viewers experience, as they can watch the original film but with a better resolution.”
Sulbha Ternikar, a noted scholar of Indian films, said the government should have taken the initiative long ago. “This should have been done much earlier. India has a rich heritage of films for the last 100 years. As the life of these films will increase due to digitisation, they can be useful for the coming generations.”
Santosh Unecha, associate director of Pune Internatinal Film Festival (PIFF) welcomed the move.
“Digitisation will not only help film festivals, but individual film lovers too. Without transporting or handling the original reels, films can be shown across cinema halls in the country in CD, DVD or Blu-ray format. By keeping the NFAI film treasury intact, it can be shown to public during festivals and at film clubs regularly,” Unecha said.
Sadanand Mohol, president of Pune Exhibitors’ Association of India, seconded Unecha’s opinion. “Now we’ll be able to our audience all the superhit films of Rajesh Khanna. We were unable to his all-time classic ‘Anand’. Let us hope that NFAI can also provide films on demand,” Mohol said.