Celebrations to mark 100th year of Indian cinema await I&B nod

Apr 09, 2012, 09:57 IST | Vivek Sabnis

Film lovers make grand plans, but I&B Ministry yet to give go-ahead for public screening of Dadasaheb Phalke films

Less than a month remains for the centenary year celebrations of the Indian film industry to kick off, but the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry is yet to give the go-ahead for public screenings of films made by the father of Indian Cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, and other legendary filmmakers in the possession of the National Film Archive of India (NFAI).

Down memory lane: A still from the first Indian feature film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ made by Dadasheb Phalke.

Film lovers from all corners of the country are also planning to celebrate the 142nd birth anniversary of Phalke on April 30. Prashant Pathrabe, director, NFAI had sent the proposal of providing rare films and documents for the centenary celebrations of Indian Cinema. “We sent the proposal last month and a revised proposal will be sent in the next two to three days. There is a procedure for clearing the proposal to I&B Ministry, which we have to follow. Enthusiastic film buffs are celebrating the centenary year of Indian Cinema from May 3, when Phalke’s first film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was released 99-years ago in 1913. We have also been receiving inquiries from various parts of the country.”

In the city, Congress leader Aaba Bagul is taking the initiative by organising a five-day festival to mark the centenary celebrations of Indian cinema and also to commemorate Phalke’s birth anniversary on April 30. Screenings of Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, the first Indian feature film to be made, are also planned between April 29 and May 3. Phalke had released the film on May 3, 1913.

The film was released on May 3, 1913; the NFAI Film Club. file Pics

Seeking NFAI help
Bagul and film buffs are also seeking help from NFAI in getting Phalke’s films as well as other milestone films to organise shows at six cinema halls in the city during the celebrations. “We are sure that everything will go smoothly and we will get the required support from NFAI,” Bagul said. According to Pathrabe, efforts are on get clearance from the I&B Ministry.

He said, “We have stored eight films of Phalke in our archives, including his all-time famous films Raja Harishchandra and Gopalkrishna. We have sent the proposal to the ministry and are awaiting formal clearance from them for showcasing of these films as well as for conducting exhibitions on the occasion.”
Pathrabe added that I&B Ministry is considering May 3, 2013 as the year for centenary celebrations of Indian Cinema.

“We have informed the ministry that many film groups are celebrating either from April 30, which is the 142th birth anniversary of Phalke or May 3, 2012,” he said. On Bagul’s programme on Phalke’s film shows in city theatres, Pathrabe said, “We both had a verbal discussion on the issue and have not yet received any formal letter from Bagul for seeking permission to showcase Phalke’s films.”

According to Pathrabe, public screening of Phalke’s films may create legal issues if they are screened without permission. He added that the films are not the property of NFAI and the institute is just the custodian. Aarti Karkhanis, librarian and information officer, NFAI, said, “We are expecting to get the green signal from the ministry for making grand exhibition of film posters in the past 10 decades of Indian Cinema. Preliminary preparations are being made.”
“We have digitalized a collection of 13,000 films in our treasury. On the occasion of the centenary celebrations of Indian films, people are making enquiries to get CD of Phalke’s films from us. We can’t do it unless I&B ministry give formal permission for making CDs,” Kiran Dhiwar, film preservation officer, NFAI, said.

Dadasaheb’s film fragments at NFAI
>>  Raja Harishchandra
(18 minutes)
>> Kaliya Mardan
(45 minutes)
>>  Shrikrishna Janma
(12 minutes)
>>  Lanka Dahan
(5 minutes)
>>  Bhakta Pralhad
(4 minutes)
>>  Pithache Panje
>>  Sinhastha Parva in
Nashik (documentary)
>>  Brick Laying

Other films and memorabilia with NFAI
>>  Censor board certificate for Phalke’s documentary film ‘Animated Coin’
>>  NFAI has fragments of films by Baburao Painter, silent films of Himanshu Rai and Franz Ostan
>>  Works by other legendary directors, including Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor, Bimal Rai, Guru Dutt, A R Kardar L V Prasad and B Nagi Reddi

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