Four day event in Mumbai to bring backstory of artistic projects and performances

Feb 13, 2018, 14:27 IST | Snigdha Hasan

What goes into restoring films, designing exhibitions or conserving monuments?

An installation (top) and artworks from the Students Biennale 2016 in the process of being put up at the venue. pics/ashish rajeAn installation (below) and artworks from the Students Biennale 2016 in the process of being put up at the venue. Pics/ Ashish Rane

The 60-plus-year-old history of Satyajit Ray's iconic film, Pather Panchali, has been a tumultuous one. Shot in India, which has unfortunately been little-known for preserving its cinematic heritage, the film's negatives were sent to a lab in London for remastering. But before that could happen, a fire engulfed the studio, destroying all hope of restoring the classic to its original glory -- until a lab in Bologna, Italy, stepped in. And in 2015, the film returned in an avatar of thoughtfully restored 4k digital prints with new subtitles.

An installation (below) and artworks from the Students Biennale 2016 in the process of being put up at the venue. Pics/ Ashish Rane

This slice of history has, however, remained unknown to many cine fans in India. And apart from one-off screenings at festivals, film enthusiasts haven't had the opportunity to watch the restored version of Pather Panchali. Bridging this gap between artistic processes and the audience, with a focus on art education and conservation, is the theme of the second edition of Kalapana, which was inaugurated yesterday. An initiative of Tata Trusts, the event packs in four days of discussions, exhibitions, film screenings, lecture demonstrations and performances.

A still from Pather Panchali
A still from Pather Panchali

"When we launched Kalapana last year, we felt the need to tell the backstory of everything that happens in the arts. So, this is a two-way celebration of giving the organisations we support a platform to showcase their work, and sharing why we support them," says Deepika Sorabjee, head of the arts and culture portfolio at Tata Trusts.

A still from Titash: Ekti Nadir Naam
A still from Titash: Ekti Nadir Naam

The event opened with the inauguration of one of the award-winning exhibitions at the Students Biennale, which was part of the Kochi Biennale 2016, where 480 young artists from across 55 Indian art schools participated. Today's events focus on architecture, with discussions on curricula as well as a lecture presentation by Ratish Nanda of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, on the organisation's restoration of the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, Golconda.

artistic project

If the story of Ray's classic intrigued you, be present on the third day for the screening of its restored version along with the first-ever screening of Ritwik Ghatak's Titas: Ekti Nadir Naam in Mumbai after its restoration. "The sad part is, we don't preserve our film heritage. And when we talk of films, we often mean only Bollywood movies, which is rather unfair," says Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, director of Film Heritage Foundation. Involved in the restoration of both films, he will be part of a discussion on the future of film preservation in India. He adds, "People tend to confuse restoration with digitisation. Restoration means bringing a film back to the glory when it was first released."

The concluding day is dedicated to performing arts, with a focus on the kalaripayattu and chhau traditions that viewers can witness up close through a lecture demonstration followed by a performance by Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts.

Till February 15 At Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalya, Fort. Call 22844484

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