The National Film Archive of India has added 71 film prints in the 16 mm format to its collection, the government-owned film preservation and research body said in a statement. Of these, 50 titles are new to the archive.

Sixteen milimetre film is typically used for low-budget productions or non-theatrical movies. The NFAI Director said the acquisition was significant because the 16 mm film represented a parallel distribution mechanism with a “very important role in making cinema reach far and wide”.

Among the additions are 42 black-and-white Marathi films, including Warnecha Waagh (1970), Raja Thakur’s Sant Gora Kumbar (1967) and Anant Mane’s Kela Ishara Jaata (1965). In colour, the Marathi collection now has V Shantaram’s Pinjara (1972), Murlidhar Kapdi’s Aaytya Bilawar Naagoba and Bhalji Pendharkar’s Ganimi Kawa starring Dada Kondke.

The list also includes 29 Hindi films, among them the Amitabh Bachchan hits Suhaag (1979), Andha Kanoon (1983) and Nastik (1983), the romance drama Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981), Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog (1982), Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ghayal (1990), David Dhawan’s Bol Radha Bol (1992), Priyadarshan’s Virasat (1997). Rajkumar Santoshi’s cult comedy Andaz Apna Apna has also been added to the archive.

'Kela Ishara Jaata (1965)' Image courtesy NFAI.
'Kela Ishara Jaata (1965)' Image courtesy NFAI.

“This collection is important not only because of the titles in it but also because of the historical value of 16 mm prints,” said NFAI Director Prakash Magdum. “In the times, when film theatres were the luxury of only cities, a parallel distribution system existed in the rural areas through 16 mm prints. The distributors travelled to every small village and town, carrying the 16 mm projectors and film prints and showed films all night long on a white curtain. Sixteen mm film prints were also the favourite of ‘touring talkies’, where the films would be shown in tents.”

The NFAI press release said a part of the collection was given to them by film distributor Anna Deshpande, one of the few remaining 16 mm film distributors in rural India.