Praising Viacom18 and Film Heritage Foundation's initiative to save India's cinematic heritage, veteran writer-lyricist-filmmaker Gulzar says film restoration, which has been neglected for a long time in India, equals preservation of culture.
"Handling old films, restoring them and preserving them is like preserving your culture," Gulzar said.
The Film Heritage Foundation will be setting up a week-long school, focused on film preservation and restoration, starting Feb 22-28 at Films Division here.
The school will consist of lectures, presentations and practical classes on film preservation and restoration that will be conducted by experts in the field. There will also be a daily screening of a restored classic preceded by an introductory talk on the restoration.
This is in line with the vision to create an indigenous resource of film archivists and restorers that will work towards preserving India's legacy of cinema.
Gulzar has words of praise for Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, founder-director, Film Heritage Foundation.
"I feel very proud of Shivendra for doing this for what he is doing is bigger than my filmmaking. I feel like I should have started preserving films instead of making films. I am proud of him not only because he has involved me in this, but more so, because I believe in this initiative," he said.
Preserving the country's cinematic history is a "a mammoth task", according to Gulzar.
"I feel sorry that traditionally, we Indians have been neglecting it. It hurts me to realise that films made by veterans like Bimalda (Bimal Roy), Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinalda (Mrinal Sen), films that taught us a lot, have not been restored and preserved.
"It is unfortunate if the current generation or the generations to come don't have access to these films. The film veterans have made their mark, but it's a great loss for people like us or people who didn't preserve these films," he added.
The Film Heritage Foundation has collaborated with Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, Cineteca di Bologna, L'Immagine Ritrovata and FIAF for this course, which is certified by FIAF - the International Federation of Film Archives. Pre-registered participants from across India, Sri Lanka and Nepal will be part of the course.
Dungarpur of Film Heritage Foundation, says "most people are not aware that India has an endangered cinematic legacy".
"We have lost a colossal amount of our cinematic heritage and we continue to lose more every day -- even recent films dating from as late as the 1990s. We need to recognise that cinema is an integral part of our social and cultural heritage that must be preserved and restored like any other art form.
"The idea behind the Film Preservation and Restoration School India was to create awareness about the importance of film preservation and restoration and to take the first step in training future archivists and restorers to save our cinematic heritage," he said.
Hence, he joined forces with Sudhanshu Vats, chairman, CII National Committee on Media and Entertainment and Group CEO, Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd.
"He (Sudhanshu) was the first person from the film industry who had the foresight to recognise the importance and urgency of our cause and to offer his support for this pioneering educational initiative," Dungarpur added.