Celluloid Man
Courtesy Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.

Film archivist, Paramesh Krishnan Nair, known popularly in world film circles as P.K. Nair has died at a hospital in Pune, India. He was 82 and had been ailing for several weeks and succumbed to a cardiac arrest.

Nair was instrumental in setting up the National Film Archive of India in 1964.

Film archiving was a neglected field in India, Nair took it upon himself to acquire and store negatives of several Indian classics including India’s first feature film “Raja Harischandra” (1913) and classics like “Jeevan Naiyya” (1936), “Achhut Kanya” (1936), “Kismet” (1943) and “Chandralekha” (1948). In all, he acquired some 8,000 films for the archive.

Nair remained in Pune, close to his beloved archive, after retiring in 1991 and continued to be actively involved in the functioning of the institution. In 1996, he was involved in the formation of the International Film Festival of Kerala, based in his native city of Thiruvananthapuram.

In his later years, ill health confined him to a wheelchair. Nevertheless, he continued to be a regular at film festivals across India.

Nair’s legacy is well documented in Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s documentary “Celluloid Man.” Dungarpur set up the privately-run archive outfit Film Heritage Foundation in 2014 that recently received financial support from Indian media conglomerate Viacom 18.

Anupama Chopra, journalist and director of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival tweeted: “He single-handedly preserved India’s cinematic heritage. We all owe you. Salut & thanks for the education & inspiration!”

Actor Shabana Azmi tweeted: “What a loss… PK Nair. How he loved film and was so knowledgeable. RIP”

Nair is survived by his son Bijju and daughter Beena


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