There are many Bengali films, mostly black and white, which lie in dusted rooms. Torn and damaged, the negatives of some films are so damaged that those are unusable. Fortunately, people are getting aware how invaluable these old films are and efforts are being made to preserve those.
Restoring a film is not an easy task. If the negative gets badly damaged, it may be simply impossible. However, thanks to technology and dedication, even many unusable negatives have been restored digitally. A restoration is a gigantic task and it can take somewhat between 6 months to one year. The cost ranges somewhere between Rs. 10 to 20 lakhs, making it all the more difficult for many old black and white movies to be restored.
Thankfully, here are some Bengali classics that have been restored to a digital format for safekeeping. There are many films and we have named here five very special ones –
Yes, the Natir Pujo – the only film by Rabindranath Tagore. It’s reels lay lying and torn but thanks to the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). According to Forbes, NFDC with the help of Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation has restored this priceless film. It is also the oldest piece of film it has been able to preserve.
Satyajit Ray’s finest, Chhabi Biswas’s best and one of greatest Bengali films ever – Jalsaghar. But it was the biggest challenge of a lost film to be restored. According to D. Ramakrishnan, NFDC’s deputy general manager –
“The negatives of the film didn’t exist. The restoration was done from a positive print. There was dust, bumps, continuous line scratches, mould, patches and flickering in the source print.”
We wholeheartedly thank those who made it possible. What a kohinoor we were going to lose.
Titas Ekti Nadir Naam
Along with Ray’s classics, Ritwik Ghatak’s priceless Bengali films also lay in ruins. The World Cinema Project (WCP) preserved and restored this neglected film and brought it to life with the help of Ritwik Memorial Trust, the National Film Archive of India.
But according to WCP, the ‘original negative is incomplete and some reels were severely damaged, a combined lavender and a positive print provided by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv were also used.’
Suchitra – Uttam films are also at the brink of being lost forever. One of the only remaining but damaged reels of Harano Sur was found and restored. If it had not been so, imagine what we would have lost.
Kanchenjunga is Satyajit Ray’s first colour film starring maestros like Chhabi Biswas and Haridhan Mukherjee. Unbelievably, its negatives were ‘damaged beyond repair’. It was kept in a film lab in Mumbai where it was exposed to sun and rain and the producers were uninterested to pay storage fees.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, or as we popularly call as the Oscars, took upon their shoulders to achieve the impossible. The original negative made in 1962 was totally damaged due to mishandling. So they had to work with the copy of the master negative film and after several months of hard work, they restored whatever they could of the film.
The Academy also restored the Ray documentary Sikkim and the short film Two.
Sometimes, we understand the value of something great only in its absence, at a crisis point. We hope that we all focus and preserve these truly timeless films.
Credits: www.forbesindia.com/printcontent/40489www.film-foundation.org/world-cinema?sortBy=title&sortOrder=1&page=2, www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/satyajit-ray-s-kanchenjunga-to-be-digitally-restored-from-copy/story-AvBK5pEnXPZpWTx20c0x7K.html, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Bengali-classics-set-for-rebirth/articleshow/44987669.cms