Restored Jayakar bungalow in Pune is new hub for film lovers

Updated: Sep 29, 2019, 07:31 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh |

The iconic heritage structure, which got a Rs 3.5 crore facelift, will now boast of a digital film library and movie viewing space

The two-storey structure, boasts of elaborate stone masonry and gable roof, typical of British architecture. Pics/Mandar Tannu
The two-storey structure, boasts of elaborate stone masonry and gable roof, typical of British architecture. Pics/Mandar Tannu

At the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) campus in Pune, the eighty-year-old Jayakar Bungalow stands magnificently, as if untouched by time. Built in the Tudor architectural style by renowned jurist and educationist Dr Mukund Ramrao Jayakar, the first vice-chancellor of Pune University, in 1940, the Grade I heritage structure was recently restored to its original glory. The project, which began in 2016, and cost around Rs 3.5 crore, was completed earlier this month. The restored building will now house a digital film library, where researchers can access the NFAI's rich database, which includes posters, scripts, screenplays, magazine, among other things. The bungalow will also have a personalised viewing space.

A rich history

The two-storey structure, boasts of elaborate stone masonry, gable roof, wooden flooring and a narrow staircase, all typical of British architecture. Over the years, the 7,000 sqft Jayakar Bungalow has exchanged several hands. Originally, home to barrister Jayakar, who lived here from 1947 to 1956, it later functioned as the premises of the Indian Law Society, before it was acquired by the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). It served as the residence of former FTII head Jagat Murari, and was later used as a women's hostel. Actors Rehana Sultan, Shabana Azmi, Neeta Mehta, Jaya Bhaduri (Bachchan), all former students of FTII, have lived here, at some point in time. The shed next to the bungalow functioned as a screening theatre, until 1991. However, due to its poor upkeep and maintenance, the theatre had to be shifted to a new premises.

Dr MR Jayakar's family donated the piano,  which is now kept in the library
Dr MR Jayakar's family donated the piano, which is now kept in the library

Need for restoration

In the last few years, the bungalow has witnessed multiple repairs and renovations. However, the new additions only took further toll on the structure. The government-run NFAI then mooted a plan to restore the bungalow, and architects Archana Deshmukh and Vinay Patil of Effective Architecture Services (EAS), were handed over the project. "Actual work began in May 2015. We had to make elaborate drawings of the structure, as the original blueprints had been lost. While working on these drawings, we realised how complex the structure was," said Deshmukh. A detailed analysis and condition assessment highlighted several issues. "Spaces were altered, original material had deteriorated, and many additions done in the past were incongruous. As a thumb rule in restoration, a major part of the existing bungalow has to be salvaged," she added.

However, here too, the restoration team faced many challenges. Materials used in the original structure—stone, bricks, lime, Burma teak, lead sheets—were not readily available in the market, said Deshmukh. "We also needed to find skilled labour to work with us," she added. Restoration of the roof was the most complex part of the project. "The roof had been damaged due to leakage and seepage of rain water. We rectified this by introducing aluminum sheets and a water-proofing system. Mangalore tiles were specially made, to match the existing ones," she said. Prakash Magdum, director NFAI, Pune said, "To understand what the original structure looked like, we met Jayakar's family that stays in Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur. They shared many photographs from that time. The family also donated Jayakar's piano, a family heirloom. The objective was to conserve the heritage structure, while making it contemporary, so that it could be accessible to citizens and film lovers."

Rs 3.5cr
The total cost of restoring the 80-year-old structure. Work on the bungalow began in 2016

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