Mrinal Sen`s masterpiece to be screened in Cannes

Kolkata: In a tribute to iconic filmmaker Mrinal Sen, the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival will screen his newly restored masterpiece `Kandahar` (The Ruins) this month.

"The festival authorities will screen `Kandahar` in their `Cannes Classic` section, which has been restored frame by frame at the National Film Archives at Pune," Sen told reporters today.

The section, which was introduced in Cannes in 2004, will screen 12 works by various film doyens the world over, including late Jean Renoir and Alfred Hitchcock.

"I may go to Cannes this time if health permits. The festival will be held from May 12 to 23," the 86-year-old filmmaker said.

Sen`s `Kharij` got the Cannes jury prize in 1983 and `Kandahar` got the special jury prize at the Montreal film fest in 1984.

Most of Sen`s film negatives, including the Kolkata trilogy - `Interview`, `Calcutta 71` and `Padatik` (Pedestrian) - were found to be in poor shape last year and as a result a mini-retrospective of his films at 2009 Cannes fell through.

"Yes, last year Cannes authorities had zeroed in on my Calcutta trilogy films based on the situation in the 70s for a mini retrospective, but the negatives were found to be in very bad shape. For that matter almost all my films were in very bad condition as they were not preserved properly," the Dadasaheb Phalke-winner said.

Following reports in the media about the poor condition of Sen`s films last March, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to restore the classics and 17 of the films are now being restored at the Pune archives.

The restoration of `Kandahar`, starring among others veteran actress Shabana Azmi, has been completed by Reliance Mediaworks which had won the bid for restoration of hundreds of Indian classics from the National Film Archive.

"They had undertaken a pristine restoration process removing dust, dirt and scratches frame by frame making it fit for screening at the section," Sen said.

The restoration work of Sen`s 16 other films was also underway but in patches.

Asked which other films he would like to be restored in the same way as `Kandahar`, Sen said, "I have to decide when time comes for picking my own works. There are several films like `Bhuban Som`, `Kharij`, `Ekdin Pratidin`, `Akaler Sandhane` and likewise".

The condition of Sen`s films first came to light when the World Cinema Foundation of US decided to take over the restoration work at the behest of famed director Martin Scorsese after learning of their condition from Sen`s son.

The government however, stepped in following media reports resulting in the restoration work.

"I don`t like to see films in CD or DVD format on the small screen in the drawing room. You can`t replicate the feel and look of the theater," Sen said when told many of his masterpieces are available in VCD-DVD formats.



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