The National Film Archive of India (NFAI), established in 1964, is
today recognised as the major film archive in the Asian region. Due to the NFAI, some of
the high standards of film making, past and present, have filtered down, resulting in a
belief that the medium has not only an obligation but a mission, to convert their viewers
to believe that this popular art and culture is as significant as any other performing art
and culture is as significant as any other performing art.
Ideally situated, Pune was selected as the home of the National Film
Archives of India. Located on Law College Road, in the Jayakar Bungalow of the Right
Honorable Mukund Ramrao Jaykar, the first Vice Chancellor of Pune, popularly known as M.R.
Jayakar during the freedom struggle days. The late Jaykar became the first the first VC of
Pune University when it was founded in 1948.
The exquisitely designed bungalow with wooden flooring, a narrow wooden
staircase, typical of British architecture and massive bookshelves that stretch on almost
to the roof, which he built opposite the Bhandarkar Institute also became instrumental in
the Bhandarkar Institute becoming the birth place of Pune University. The Jayakar bungalow has over the years
maintained a tradition of being a House of Treasures, with the added dimension of
having a collection of well known films from all over the world.
The facilities at the NFAI are on par with those of the West. Andrew
Robinson, a western biographer on Ray, visited Pune in 1987 and said: "It is Satyajit
Ray's films that have brought me to Pune. I am writing a biography of Ray and Pune is the
only place in the world where one can see all - well almost all - his films together...in
a dingy room of the National Film Archives, almost squeezed by cans of films."
Today, NFAI has the largest film collection in Asia. Every year the
Archives are making headway in the acquisition, preservation and exhibition of rare film
material from all over the world to people from different walks of life.
Thanks to the NFAI, today, we know about Dada Sahib Phalke, a pioneer
in the field of Indian movies. For most of his ninety seven films he wrote the stories and
screenplays as well as directed, photographed, processed and edited himself. He was the
master of trick photography in mythological films, Bhasmasur Mohini, Bhakta Prahlad,
Setubandhan, Krishan Jamuna and so on. Through the NFAI we also know how the first
reel of the first Indian feature film was salvaged from right under his bed, many years
after the death of the father of Indian cinema. And how the man who brought cinema to
India, ``One morning, February 16, 1944 on the banks of the Godavari quietly passed away,
unmourned and unsung."
House Of Treasures
The House of Treasures, today has 10,304 films, 14,678 books related to
the film world, 214 regular film periodicals, 14,264 film scripts, 5,658 pamphlets, 55,406
photographs, 5,131 wall posters, 1,752 disc records and 31 audio tapes in the form of
cinema history through interviewing veterans on the evolution of the Indian film industry.
The NFAI has brought out monographs of eminent film makers like
Sukhdev, Ritwik Ghatak, Damle and Fatela. A valuable reference guide for all feature
films made in the country with cast, credits and brief synopsis was compiled by B.V.
Dharap. Through the NFAI the works of
great film makers like Dada Saheb Phalke, Debaki Bose, V. Shantaram, P.C. Barua, Mahboob
Khan, Sohrab Modi, Guru Dutt, Satyajit Ray, Raj Kapoor, Mrinal Sen, Sukdev, S.S. Vasan and
many more are easily accessible.
Among the foreign films the NFAI has acquired, films of D.W. Griffith,
Carl Dryer, Sergei Eienstien, V.I. Pudovkin, Jean Luc Godard, Bergman, Roberto Rosselini,
Alexander Dovzkenko, Fritz Lang, Robert Flaherty, Vittorio De Sica, Frederico Fellini,
Kenji Mitzoguchi, Akira Kurosawa, Robert Bresson and many more.
Indian cinema had a wealth of talent in every sphere of film making,
cast, crew and craft. The intelligensia of the country showed their creativity and
aroused social awareness through this medium. The ultimate human figure became the
landmark in their films for the audience. K.L. Saigal, Durga Khote, Chandra Mohan,
Motilal, Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar, K.C. Dey, Shanta Apte, Sulochana, Keshav Rao Date,
Vanamala, Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Pahari Sanyal, Prithvi Raj, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand,
Dilip Kumar and many of the present age portrayed this admirably.
Today, the NFAI has in its possession all these sepia memories. The
House of Treasures' is not just a storage place of art material nor is it merely a museum.
It is an active cultural centre. Attending the eight-week Film Appreciation Course
conducted by the NFAI is more than merely viewing films. Each film shown is discussed in
depth, every aspect studied by a cross section of people. The University Grants Commission
has recognised its importance and has introduced this course as a subject of study in some
In 1993, NFAI opened its new centrally air-conditioned building
complex. It houses three basement film vaults with a capacity to store 60,000 film reels
in the controlled temperature and humidity conditions required for archival storage. This
will constitute a giant step forward for NFAI's film conservation, preservation and
restoration activities. Film cleaning machines and new CTM viewing tables have also been
recently acquired to strengthen the film preservation and checking sections.
Fostering serious thinking on cinema is the focus of NFAI's annual
eight-week Film Appreciation Course in Pune, at which experts in film studies teach film
history, film aesthetics and theory and allied subjects. NFL also regularly collaborates
in organizing short-term film appreciation courses with other educational and cultural
organizations in different parts of India.
NFAI offers year-long research fellowships and commissions monographs
and oral history projects on Indian film pioneers and eminent film personalities. The
Archive has so far brought out 12 publications and several others are in the pipeline. To
promote film culture NFAI has a distribution library which caters to more to more than 100
borrowers consisting of film societies, educational institutions and cultural and welfare
organisations. It also conducts joint screening programs at Hyderabad, Bungler, Bhopal and
Vijayawada. NFAI's three regional offices have modest but useful film and book libraries
catering to film societies and other institutions in their respective regions.