Girish Kasaravalli: Restoration of classic films is the need of the hour

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This book has been co-authored by Girish Kasaravalli, the pioneer of Indian parallel cinema. Baby girl (Image and reflection) With Gopalkrishna Pai. The book, published by Veeralok and released on March 24, is filled with talks on Kasaravalli’s classics and provides deep insights into his works, which include 15 feature films.

Recently, the debut film of eminent Kannada filmmaker, Ghatashraddha (1977), It was selected for restoration by the Film Heritage Foundation of India in collaboration with the World Cinema Project founded by Martin Scorsese and the Hobson Lucas Family Foundation of American filmmaker George Lucas and wife Mellody Hobson.

Talks to Kasaravalli, winner of multiple national awards hindu About writing the book, the importance of film appreciation, the challenges of restoration, and more.

Excerpts from the conversation:

How long did it take to finish the book? Who do you want as your target audience?

We started work on the book in June, 2023. We watched our films again and again and recorded our observations; Then, we started writing them. It also took some time to get permission for pictures of my films. This book is for filmmakers and cinephiles, and for those who love to understand the aesthetics and language of cinema. We haven’t just talked about our films. We also discussed the socio-political situations during the release of a particular film, and how and why I came to certain conclusions in a film.

Do you agree that there are less discussions and debates on Kannada cinema?

On YouTube you find serious conversations on many Hindi classics. Unfortunately, such discussions are not taking place regarding Kannada cinema. We don’t see anyone talking about the pace of a film or the socio-political impact of a particular film. How did a popular director adopt a particular style of filmmaking? what makes rites (1970) An important film? What are the differences between directors N Lakshmi Narayana and Puttanna Kanagal? One had a restrained style of filmmaking while the other had an exhibitionistic style. This kind of decoding helps upcoming filmmakers.

When I entered the film industry in the 1970s, the situation was different. Film appreciation courses will be organized regularly in Bengaluru. I managed them myself for four years. Of course, we initially put more emphasis on international classics. Later, through a program called Janaspandan, important Kannada films, and classic films of Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa were shown in small towns of Karnataka and people liked them.

Did your perspective change as you re-watched some of your films while writing this book?

When you re-watch a film, you see it from the perspective of socio-political changes and technological advancements that have taken place over the years. when i made mane In 1989, people thought I was overreacting to the Dunkel Draft movement. He did not see the aspect of globalization in the film. A few years later, the economy opened up and a decade later, what I had predicted in 1989 came true in the early 2000s. With the consumerist society, values ​​changed, the idea of ​​right and wrong changed and moral questions disappeared. Similarly, people talk about how some challenging shots were taken Ghatashraddha. Today, such scenes can be shot instantly using drones.

Cover image of 'The Story of the Snake' written by Girish Kasaravalli and Gopalkrishna Pai.

Cover image of ‘The Story of the Snake’ written by Girish Kasaravalli and Gopalkrishna Pai. , Photo Credit: Special Event

How did Martin Scorsese and George Lucas approach the restoration? Ghatashraddha?

Shivendra Singh, founding director of the Film Heritage Foundation, initiated the project. Ghatashraddha One of his favorite films. He had already restored Malayalam Thampu (1978), and Manipuri film ishanau (1990). Shivendra Singh presented it to Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project and the Hobson Lucas Family Foundation, founded by George Lucas and Mellody Hobson. They choose films from all over the world for revival. they liked Ghatashraddha. They will now own the copyright of the restored version, and can perform it at festivals. This entire initiative is for the love of the medium, not for the sake of making money. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 50 lakh. The foundation work will be done frame by frame, and the restoration should take about eight months to complete.

Talking about storing films, why did filmmakers object when the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) was merged with the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC)?

NFDC is a private institution and has to be self-reliant. It can sell pictures and footage and no one can question it. The National Film Archive of India will receive a grant from the government, and will use it to restore the films. With the merger, there is a possibility that the restoration process may come to a halt. Secondly, collecting is a matter of preserving our heritage. We have footage of the Indian independence movement. We need to preserve it. Also, NFDC is producing only those films which will make money. Earlier they used to finance artistically brilliant films. In such a scenario, naturally, the body would not focus on collecting, producing children’s films and documenting important film events.

Also read:a journey in the reels

How important is it to establish a professional body at the state level to archive films?

Archiving is an expensive and challenging process. It’s not just about storing movies in one room. There is a separate organization in Kerala which looks after the restoration work for 365 days. Last year, Shivendra Singh had conducted a workshop in Bengaluru on archiving films. Restoring a movie is a scientific process, and you need a 10-member team. You need to hire experts and train them. Karnataka Chalanchitra Academy had established a body in 2020 to archive Kannada films. Not much progress has been made since then.

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