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‘Endangered’ Indian classic cinema at Italy film festival

‘Endangered’ Indian classic cinema at Italy film festival
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Indian classic cinema of the 1950s and rare newsreels including one showing a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Charlie Chaplin in London, are part of a renowned international film fest currently underway in Italy. Eight black-and-white films including legendary Hindi cinema like Awara, Pyaasa, Mother India and S S Vasan's iconic Chandralekha in Tamil are up for screening at the ‘Il Cinema Ritrovato’ festival in the city of Bologna.

Titled The Golden 50s: India's Endangered Clasics, it is the first Indian cinema retrospective at the festival, which is dedicated to film restoration and its history. The festival has been curated by filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, known for his National Award-winning marathon documentary Celluloid Man that highlighted the loss of Indian cinematic heritage including rare silent-era films.

‘About 1700 silent films were made in India of which only five or six complete films remain. Tragically, we have even lost our first talkie Alam Ara of 1931. By 1950, India had lost 70 to 80% of its films and this has been the result of a widespread and complacent belief that films will last forever. We now realise that these eight classics too are in imminent danger of being lost if urgent steps are not taken for their preservation and restoration. Screening these films is not just a reminder of a singular cinematic legacy, but one that is endangered and must be saved,’ Dungarpur said.
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