The National Film Development Corporation has been promising to digitally restore celebrated films and release them on DVD for several months. It has finally fulfilled that promise. Restored DVDs of the films Mirch Masala, Party, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Dharavi and Suraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda recently hit the market, and the discs of Ek Doctor Ki Maut, Diksha and Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro will soon follow. The collection includes the recent NFDC production Bioscope. Gautam Ghosh’s rural drama Paar is in the pipeline.
The list of films includes some of the best-known examples of parallel cinema from the 1980s. Produced by NFDC and exploring a range of social concerns, parallel movies provided a significant and vibrant alternative to popular Hindi cinema. “These films capture the diversity of Indian cinema,” said NFDC chairperson Nina Lath Gupta. “This diversity hasn’t got the attention it deserves.”
The DVDs of many of the films, such as Mirch Masala, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Suraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda, have been out in the market for years, but they suffer from poor visual and audio quality and lack special features. India still doesn’t have a movie label like Criterion in the United States of America, which restores significant films from around the world and releases them on DVD with a slew of special features. The NFDC DVDs aren’t quite on the level of Criterion, but they are a start towards improving the afterlife of important movies.
Restoration is the first step towards reigniting interest in theclassics. Lath Gupta said that the films on the NFDC’s list have been restored in consultation with the filmmakers and crew members. Cinematographer AK Bir and sound designer Nakul Kamte stepped in as consultants whenever the filmmakers couldn’t be involved.
The films have been touched up – the colours have been worked on to make them resemble the tones and shades in the original print, and the sound has been boosted too. Only Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro has an extra disc, whose main feature is an interview with director Kundan Shah and screenplay writer Ranjit Kapoor, who gave the movie its title. Shah, whose subsequent films have never matched the brilliance of this satire, states that the screenplay was a recipe for disaster. “We had freedom to go wrong, freedom without responsibility,” he said. The black comedy has been out on DVD for years. We finally have an excuse to revisit it along with the other filmmaking adventures that existed alongside it.
The DVDs cost R199 each.
By Nandini Ramnath on March 16 2012 6.32am