National Museum of Indian Cinema

national_museum_of_indian_cinema_-_www-filmkailm-comNarendra Modi’s populist rally in Mumbai last month suddenly shifted the focus on the custodian city of Hindi film industry when he made rhetorically sweeping announcements including promised establishment of a film university. Late of the blocks as usual, the somniferous Congress government, which has never sought to abolish the burdensome “entertainment tax” (a topic I shall write about soon) saddled on the industry since independence, craved its moment in the spotlight. Fifty years too late, they have finally decided to honor Indian cinema by announcing the opening of a museum dedicated to the art of motion pictures.

Here’s the press release:

The National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC), showcasing India’s rich film heritage over the past 100 years will open in Mumbai in February 2014; Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari announced recently at the Life OK Screen award function in Mumbai.

He said that the Ministry has also launched a Rs. 600 crore National Film Heritage Mission to digitize best of Indian cinematic works and archive them for the benefit of future generations.

The National Museum of Indian Cinema is situated in the 6,000 square-foot Gulshan Mahal – a heritage building on Peddar Road in South Mumbai.

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Gulshan Mahal’s interiors have been refurbished to house an interactive walkthrough down cinema’s memory lane. It is part of a larger complex of 50,000 square-feet that will come up in phases.

The museum will be a ready reckoner of the history of Indian cinema showcasing technological aspects of production and screening of films, as well as its social aspects during the past 100 years. Through its interactive galleries, it will trace the evolution of celluloid from the Lumiere Brothers and Raja Harishchandra onwards and showcase Indian cinema in three stages – silent era, golden era and the modern era.

An Advisory Committee headed by renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal has guided the Films Division in establishing the museum. Visitors can also watch clips of old classics on a number of monitors or listen to rare film music from the past. There is also an interesting collection of posters of landmark movies from across India. A section on regional cinema is also on display.

Many famous yesteryear studios like Mehboob Studios, RK Studios and Prasad Studios have donated equipment to the museum. Some private collectors too have come forward to donate items.

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The Films Division, which was set up in 1941, to produce short films to disseminate information during war-time, has also displayed old Eymo and Mitchel cameras, recording equipment etc. Also of interest are some even older instruments that created an illusion of movement, which were precursor to the movie camera.

NMIC is being curated by the National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata, under the Ministry of Culture, which manages 55 various kinds of museums in the country.

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