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The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has undertaken the massive task of restoring 5,000 priceless classics of Indian cinema. The initiative is already bearing fruit with Satyajit Ray’s “Pratidwandi” (“The Adversary”) being screened at Cannes Classics and “Shatranj Ke Khilari” (“The Chess Players”) at Venice Classics this year.

As part of the process, all 5,000 films are being digitized and 2,200 of these are being restored.

The NFAI set up the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM) with the objectives of condition assessment of film reels to ascertain the remaining life of the film; 2K/4K picture and sound restoration of landmark films of Indian and recording of new picture and sound inter-negatives of each film; digitization of films; construction of archival and preservation facilities; training and workshops for in-house capacity building; and web-based end-to-end IT solutions.

The NFAI’s efforts were showcased at a pavilion during the recently concluded Film Bazaar film market in Goa.

“We wanted to showcase the importance of preservation of film and related ancillary materials, which is being done by the NFAI, a key stakeholder in the preservation of the cinematic heritage of India, through an exhibition at the Film Bazaar pavilions,” NFAI head Ravinder Bhakar told Variety. “While NFAI showcased a 35mm film reel, working 16mm projector in action, rare posters, song booklets, various formats such as VHS, Beta Tapes amongst other archival objects, the pavilion also brought focus on the work done by the NFHM. We wanted the industry to know about this mission, under which thousands of features, documentaries and shorts are digitized and will be eventually restored.”

NFAI was set up in 1964 as a media unit of India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, with the primary objective of acquiring and preserving Indian cinematic heritage. This includes preservation of film and non-film material including but not limited to celluloid, stills, glass slides, posters, lobby cards, scripts and song booklets.