Filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur is a man on a mission. He was responsible for the restoration of Kalpana — the first Indian film to present its lead actor as a dancer.
The digital restoration of this 1948 classic was possible thanks to his collaboration with noted Hollywood producer-director Martin Scorsese. The film was later screened at the Cannes film festival and much appreciated too.
Surprisingly, the film has yet not been shown in its country of origin. Dungarpur believes bureaucracy is to be blamed for the same. He says, “We are trying our best but as of now, nothing is happening.
Technically speaking, the film belongs to the government. Having said that, there are a lot of issues to be cleared before the film can actually hit the theatres.” According to a well-placed source, a court case is still pending in a Kolkata court regarding the actual ownership of the original film.
Kalpana is just one grave reminder of the fact that the concept of film preservation has a long way go in the country. Out of about 1,700 silent films made in India, only nine have been saved till date.
“We don’t have the sense of preservation. It’s as simple as that. It just reflects on our harsh treatment towards our heritage. We can’t afford to lose these invaluable films. After all, cinema is a reminder of an era,” Dungarpur rues.
Next is what?
Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s next project focuses on PK Nair, the founder of the National Film Archive of India. Nair’s lifelong dedication towards the preservation of films is widely explored in the documentary titled Celluloid Man.
In it, the stalwarts from world cinema who were influenced by him and his work describe their experiences as well as the need to improve the dismal state of film preservation in the country.