The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) will actively support the states with funds and expertise for those who show interest in setting up a regional film archive on the lines of the parent body. Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) secretary Ajay Mittal told media persons in Pune that Kerala and Karnataka are in the process of forming such a partnership with NFAI to set up comprehensive film archives in the states.
Mittal held day-long deliberations with NFAI officials and other stakeholders as part of review activities being carried out under the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM). Senior film-makers Jahnu Barua and Rajiv Mehrotra, who are advisers for NFHM, were also present for the meetings, along with Prakash Magdum, NFAI Director, and Santosh Ajmera, officer on special duty for NFHM.
“Given the volume of film output in India, we have to concede humbly that NFAI alone cannot do the job of archiving and preservation. We have to work with other bodies, be it governmental or private, to achieve our goals and we are open to that,” said Mittal, who took charge three months ago.
“In this regard, we are going to support various state governments interested in setting up film archives on the regional level to secure the film heritage of that state. Presently, we are working with Kerala and Karnataka, which had shown active interest in setting up film archives. We will provide funds as well as expertise for the purpose,” Mittal added.
The I&B secretary said that NFAI will work with various universities and academic bodies to boost research on films by awar-ding fellowships and offering short and medium term courses in film studies with emphasis on preservation and archiving. He said the Ministry is making efforts to increase the storage capacity of the vaults where film reels can be safely preserved by expanding their capacity.
“Keeping with the spirit, we have also taken an important decision to double the staff strength of the film archive in a short time of two weeks. We feel it’s important to make up for the staff shortage which the body is suffering from,” Mittal said, adding that NFAI is looking forward to sign MoUs with various international archiving bodies to speed up the process of acquisition of film materials.
On the issue of FTII, Mittal said that the Ministry is making efforts to restore ‘discipline and seriousness’ at the campus, which, he said, has gone through a ‘bad patch’ recently. Attempts are on to bring in academic discipline and to ensure that courses commence and finish on time, he said. Mittal, who also paid a brief visit to the institute, said that ‘vested interests’ would not be allowed to disrupt ‘harmony’ at the institute and harm its reputation.
“If you see the history of recent years, you will see that students have been camping there for eight years for a three-year diploma. It’s beyond anyone’s understanding. In such a case, what happened at FTII was waiting to happen. If not over appointment of the chairman (Gajendra Chauhan), then it would have happened over some other issue,” Mittal said, affirming that the administration is now taking efforts to restore discipline and seriousness at the campus so that it achieves its ‘former glory’ again.
“FTII has contributed hugely to the Indian film industry and it pains me immensely to see the current situation there,” the I&B secretary said, adding that Gajendra Chauhan was ‘just a small part’ in the scheme of institute administration and the kind of reaction it evoked was unwarranted.
“The administration of an institution is a big and well-oiled machine and a change in a small part is not going to make a lot of difference. But as I said, it (the students’ agitation) would have happened anyway over some other issue,” Mittal said.