Rare footage of the former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, shot over a 30-year period is set to be restored, thanks to an initiative taken by the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) here.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the eighth Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) that began on Thursday, NFAI director Vijay Jadhav said: “Contained in 2,258 film reels, the footage were shot between 1934 and Nehru’s death in 1964…his speeches, sessions of the Congress, and so on. A single reel may contain footage from three to four events. The Ministry of Culture has set aside Rs.2.5 crore for the restoration work and has promised to provide more funds if necessary.”

Mr. Jadhav added that the material also included footage shot by international organisations such as the BBC.

The NFAI received the material on Wednesday from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) in New Delhi, which was in possession of it.

“I had been to the NMML some time back to give a technical talk,” Mr. Jadhav said. “That was when the officials there informed me that the museum possessed some reels on Nehru’s life, but that they did not have the machinery to view the film. I asked them to hand over the material to the NFAI for digitisation and preservation of the film.”

The material will now be sent to Reliance Media Works in Mumbai for digitisation and restoration.

“The NFAI has outsourced the restoration work to Reliance,” Mr. Jadhav said. “The NFAI will play a monitoring role, with a technical committee inspecting the progress from time to time.”

Restoration process

The material consists of sound negatives, dupe negatives and 8, 16 and 35 mm film. The process of restoration is a long one and may take more than three to four months.

The reels will first undergo a process of physical and chemical cleaning, Mr. Jadhav said. At times, ultra sonic waves maybe used to loosen the dust particles settled on the film, which is then scanned frame-by-frame using a high 2K resolution. The process also involves the use of special restoration software. A final manual touch-up is given at the end.

Once restored, the original film and a copy of the digital version will remain with the NFAI, while another copy of the digital version will be given to the NMML. The NMML will be authorised to decide on matters of making the film commercially available.

Mr. Jadhav added that, like the NMML, many other bodies in the country were in possession of rare and old audio-visual material. “The Doordarshan centre in Ahmedabad informed me that it, too, has some old film.” He called for such bodies not to be discreet but to come together and make concentrated efforts to ensure that such valuable archival material was not lost but restored in time.

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