The city-based National Film Archive of India (NFAI), a unit of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has floated a tender inviting bidders to submit expressions of interest to provide services for hiring of consultants to implement the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM). The tender was issued on June 5.
The ambitious Mission is aimed at conservation of 1,32,000 film reels, digitization of 1,160 feature films and 1660 short films, construction of state-of-the-art archival and preservation facilities and sound restoration of 1,086 landmark feature films and 1,152 short films of the Indian cinema.
Estimated to cost Rs 591.41 crore, the NFHM project is scheduled to get completed by 2021.
“There is an immense need for restoration of these films, which have great heritage value and are also valuable for educational and cultural purposes of future generation. Since this is the prestigious mission not only for the film industry but the country as a whole, we are going to conserve, preserve and digitize the film content in India. It is a part of the Prime Minister’s vision for Digital India and Make in India initiative,” said Bimal Julka, secretary, I&B.
Julka said the first high-level meeting to finalise the modalities would be held soon in Pune. While the meeting will be presided over by Julka, other members of the committee formed for NFHM include renowned film industry personalities like Jahnu Barua, Santosh Sivan and Rajiv Mehrotra and top officials from institutes such as National Film Development Corporation of India, Film and Television Institute of India, Directorate of Film Festivals and the censor board.
Prakash Magdum, director, NFAI, said the shortlisted consultancy firm/s would provide services for hiring of an implementing agency/cies and experts for the mission.
The I&B Ministry recently appointed Santosh Ajmera, an Indian Information Service officer of 2008 batch, to take the project forward as the Officer on Special Duty at NFAI.
Film restoration is a vital element of film preservation considering that film material is a fragile commodity. In the past few decades, restoration of films through digital technology has emerged as the mode of preserving film heritage that was in danger of being lost, said Ajmera.
While most countries across the world have earnestly taken up film restoration, the same has been a serious challenge in India due to shortage of adequate preservation facilities, resulting in loss of a large part of India’s film heritage.
Film preservation requires the availability of vaults with prescribed temperature and humidity conditions and a dust-free environment. In India, until 1994, there were no such specialized facilities for preserving black & white films and vaults for colour films only came up in 2002-03.
Once built, given their limited capacity, these vaults only cater to a small segment of Indian cinema, that too not necessarily following the internationally prescribed standards of preservation at all times. As a result, picture and sound negatives of most of the Indian films have been severely damaged.