India is the biggest producer of feature films and the world looks up to as for our inventive measures.Where we fail is in not preserving our heritage. Old guards say almost all the full length feature films like Raja Harishchandra or our first talkie Alam Ara and many other significant films don’t exist.
So many of our classics have been destroyed in fire, floods and out of negligence and in fact whenever actors/ filmmakers have been invited for retrospectives to international film festivals they have discovered that the required print is either scratched, damaged beyond repair or simply missing. How depressing is that.
Unfortunately none of our old writers and lyricists have preserved their jottings, we have no unused tunes preserved by music directors except perhaps Madan Mohan whose son Sanjeev Kohli gathered the scratches and inspired Yash Chopra to use them all in Veer Zaara.
I was reading Dilip Kumar’s autobiography and learnt that the actor made significant contributions in all his scripts and had a very methodical way of sketching his characters be it a period film or a mainstream masala or homework on the dialogue sheets, music directors have not preserved their rejected tunes most of the time deleted instantly and producers have not preserved film costumes as most of them were utilized as wedding trousseau of the family members.
Hopefully our present generation of actors and filmmakers are learning from their senior’s mistakes and preserving if not all, at least their better films. Our old filmmakers did not have the facilities of modern technology, our youngsters do and if they fail they will not be forgiven.
For the next few weeks I will travel you through the 100 years of cinema as I celebrate my new book
Once Upon A Time in India – A century of Indian cinema.
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