NFAI acquires rare footage of 1919 silent film ‘Bilwamangal’

    with pix) Pune, Aug 18 (PTI) The National Film Archive of India hasclaimed to have acquired rare footage of a 1919 Indian silentfilm, "Bilwamangal", from France. The film was directed by Rustomji Dotiwala and wasproduced by the Elphinstone Bioscope in Kolkata (thenCalcutta) which was later renamed as Madan Theatres Ltd. "We have acquired the rare footage (594 metres) of thisfilm ‘Bilwamangal’ from Cinematheque Francaise, a French filmorganisation, which holds the largest archives of filmdocuments and film related objects," NFAI Director PrakashMagdum said. "In return of this valuable footage, NFAI will provide adigital copy of Indian silent film ‘Jamai Babu’ (1931),directed by Kalipada Das, from our collection as per mutualexchange policy under FIAF (International Federation of FilmArchives) framework," he said. "Bilwamangal" is a landmark acquisition for NFAI as therewas no trace of work from Madan Theatres, the then biggestproduction house in the country, he pointed out. Magdum said that the last silent films NFAI had acquiredwere from Kolhapur during 1996, titled "Murliwala", "SatiSavitri" and "Maya Bazar", directed by Baburao Painter. "India produced nearly 1,300 silent films between 1913and 1932, most of which were lost due to its Nitrate base.Nearly 28 silent films, though incomplete, have been preservedin NFAI’s storage facilities since then," he informed. Described as "the story of a man’s ruinous obsession witha courtesan", the film "Bilwamangal" was adapted from apopular retelling of the legend. The character of Bilwamangal was played by DorabjiMewavala while Miss Gohur, the greatly popular Parsi theatreactress, played the role of the courtesan – Chintamani. In thefilm, Miss Gohur appears in a long dance sequence where herprowess as a performer was clearly on display. Magdum said that NFAI has acquired 594 metres (28 minutesfootage) of this movie. The film was originally 12,000 feet long. PTI SPK GKJCHRDS

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