Pune is and will always remain special to me. I fall more in love with this city every time I visit it. Luckily every time I visit it, I discover a new facet of the city, sometimes known and sometimes unknown. This time, I had the opportunity to visit the National Film Archives of India at Pune. And spend a couple of days there, thanks to a friend who goes there to do research for the film he is making.
National Film Archives of India at Pune
National Film Archives of India (NFAI) was established in the 1960s by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. To preserve the heritage that is being created in the form of cinema both national and international. To be a source for research on cinema and to disseminate film culture in India and to promote Indian cinema internationally. It is headquartered in Pune with regional centers in Bangalore (I never knew this was next door in Koramangala), Kolkata and Trivandrum. In Pune, it is located on Law College Road road, a relatively serene area, in an old bungalow with an add-on building.
It was initially a part of FTII (Film & Television Institute of India). But is now an independent organization by itself and is one of the leading film archives in the world. NFAI is a repository of films of importance, award-winning films, popular films from India and abroad. They are preserved in a basement facility, where the required temperature and humidity are maintained for the old films. A new facility is being planned for the new films as well. What is interesting is that all these films are regularly tested manually for any damage. There are 8 tables where 8 people can test 8 films in parallel. It is interesting to see how they do it, wish I could take a picture of it, but it is not allowed to take pictures inside.
There is a well-stocked library with all possible books and periodicals on films. Most of the books are put off the bound for the visitors. So I could not go through and feel the books. There are popular and more recent books that are on the outer shelves of the library which you can take from the librarian. You can refer to popular magazines in their earlier versions. I went through some of them published more than a decade before I was born and it was a pleasure to read them. They were focused on the stars and the popular cinema. But they still talked about the craft of cinema and the work done by the artist. They do talk about their personal lives, but in a very dignified way and within limits.
There are in-depth articles about the changing times. Imagine in the early sixties they had a series of articles talking about the deteriorating state of music in Indian cinema. There was a detailed analysis of each of the music directors and their work. And how it has changed over the last decade or so.
Apart from the preservation of material around films NFAI also does some other interesting activities like:
- Organize film appreciation courses regularly along with FTII and other educational institutes.
- Run a film distribution library for members.
- Provide a 26 seater preview theater to preview the films.
- Provide 350+ seater theater for the screening of films.
- Be a venue for hosting the regular / theme based film festivals.
- Run a film circle which has a screening of film every Saturday, for which membership is open to the public.
- Encourage study and research on films. They also offer fellowship for the same.
- Maintain Censor records.
- Provide basic search on Indian movies, though here I think they need to get savvy like IMDB.
National Film Archives of India invites everyone to contribute to the national archive. If you have any rare pictures, tapes, press clippings, song booklets, film posters or anything that should be preserved for future generations. You can send them to NFAI and they would make a copy of it and make it a part of the archive.
Thanks, Sand for introducing me to this wonderful place.