NFAI acquires 6-hour documentary on Mahatma Gandhi

As Mahatma Gandhi’s 148th anniversary approaches next month, the National Film Archive of India has acquired the original negative footage comprising a six-hour documentary on the Father of the Nation, an official said here on Wednesday.

The documentary has been shot by the late Vithalbhai Jhaveri, who was a photographer, filmmaker and a close associate of Gandhiji.

The original negatives are of the documentary ‘Mahatma’ made by Jhaveri who was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 1969. The filmmaker died in 1985.

This footage on Gandhi is the highlight of 162 films acquired from the Famous Cine Laboratory in Mumbai, by the NFAI recently, said (NFAI) Director Prakash Magdum.

One of the biggest acquisitions in recent times, the new collection includes 125 films which are original or duplicate negatives of the film. While 44 films are black-and-white, the entire collection includes 15 unreleased films.

Besides the huge chunk of Hindi films, the haul includes 34 Gujarati, 15 Marathi, six Bhojpuri and some Nepali films, Magdum said.

The NFAI will now possess films prints which it previously did not have in any format, including “Faslah” (Hindi, 1976), “Amarsingh Rathod” (Hindi, 1957), “Aalay Toofan Daryala” (Marathi, 1973) and “Maitri Ghar” (Nepali, 1966).

Other highlights are original negatives of Ezra Mir’s “Sitara” (1939), Mani Kaul’s “Uski Roti” (1969), K.A. Abbas’ “Saat Hindustani” (1969) – which incidentally was the debut film of megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar-starrer “Kohinoor” (1960), Mehmood’s “Kunwara Baap” (1974), Raj Kapoor-and-Nargisa-starrer “Amber” (1952), among others.

The collection also threw up the legendary Japanese filmmaker Kon Ichikawa’s renowned film, “Tokyo Olympiad” (1965) which documents the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Japan’s capital.

“This is one of the most important acquisitions at NFAI due to the fact that many films have come in original/duplicate negative format. We thank the Famous Cine Laboratory for depositing these films with us,” Magdum said.

He appealed to all filmmakers to volunteer by depositing their films so that the cinematic heritage of our country can be preserved for future generations.

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