India does not have the culture of archiving: `Celluloid Man`
New Delhi: The much-lauded documentary `Celluloid Man` may be getting standing ovations in the film festivals around the world but its hero P K Nair is unhappy with the "lack of archiving culture" in India, especially in the field of cinema.
Nair, 80, who is being celebrated in Shivendra Singh Dungarpur directed documentary, is the founder and former director of National Film Archives of India (NFAI) in Pune.
He retired from NFAI in 1991 and by then he had created a massive treasure of films and documentaries in black and white and in colour.
"We don`t have the culture of archiving unlike the West. But, it is important to save our cinematic heritage because they also carry signatures of our history and must form a part of our collective effort to save them for posterity. And, that`s why I`ve done what I have done," Nair told reporters.
"We have a great past but a poor history unlike the West which has a not so great past compared to India but a very rich history, thanks to the culture of preservation and restoration, which we lack in our country," adds Nair.
‘Celluloid Man’, which was screened recently at a film festival in Jawaharlal Nehru University, documents Nair`s untiring effort to build an enviable cinema archive in India.
By 1991, NFAI had 12,000 films in collection, out of which 9000 were in Indian languages, majority being black and white. Even in Indian category there were films made by foreign studios in India or by Europeans living in India.
The Trivandrum-born archivist, who collected Hollywood-themed cards from weighing machines apart from the thousands of films that he saved, rescued, restored in a formal archive, gets emotional while talking about celluloid films which are facing digital onslaught.
"Despite the new digital age I still believe that the true beauty of cinema lies in celluloid. It is important to preserve what our predecessors have created even though we have to move on with new times and technologies," says Nair.
"We also had some finest documentaries produced by Burmah Shell company on various parts of India, but I don`t know what is the current status now."