Dialogues From The Bygone Era: NFAI’s Oral History Project released on Phalke’s birth anniversary

At her residence in Mylapore, Madras within the 12 months 1984, S.D. Subb-ulakshmi, in an interview mentioned that when she was a toddler, her dad and mom discouraged her need in theatre and performs. “When I used to be in school 8, they put me in a faculty in Tirunelv-eli, Manthiramurthy High college…

When I used to be learning there, Kanni-ayya firm was performing their performs. wished to pursue theatre performing once more…S G Kittappa performed feminine roles within the play. He would play Krishna and Mohini. C V V Panthulu was additionally there. Watching that play re-kindled my curiosity in theatre,” she mentioned.

Apart from Subbulakshmi’s three hour and forty-five minutes audio interview, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) revealed about 8000 minutes of veteran movie artists from the Indian movie trade, in continuum of the one hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary of Father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke. The 53 interviews with audio recordings of movie artists performed in 5 languages- Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, English and Bengali, recorded largely within the Eighties as a part of the Oral History Project of

NFAI was uploaded on the official web site on Friday.

“The Oral History Project is a part of our larger NFAI research programme. It is an audio history project which started in late 70s and early 80s with an idea where artists through these interviews, talk about their background, how they came into the industry, the roles or jobs they did, how industry evolved in front of their eyes, memorable roles, directors and studios they worked with,” mentioned Prakash Magdum, Director NFAI.

He mentioned that most of the artists within the interviews are from the period of silent movies who later additionally labored within the talkies and is a documentation of a macro view of the general movie trade in India. “Oral history is an important tool for any history and I would say it is more for cinema, as tools for early Indian cinema are not much available today. These are stories from the people themselves from the bygone era, hence it holds a rich documentation value,”

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The artists embody distinguished names like J. B. H. Wadia, Akkineni Nageshwar Rao, Vijay Bhatt, Nilu Phule, Sharad Talwalkar, Shobha Sen, Surykant Mandhare, Soumitra Chatterjee to call just a few. “There are seven or eight interviews of people, including that of Haribhau Lonare and Marathi comedy actor Vasant Shinde, who have worked with Dadasaheb Phalke. These are the people who had no background in cinema and had joined Hindustan Cinema Films Company. The tales are of utmost importance as while Phalke is much written about, they are the people who were in direct association with Phalke, how it was to work with, his humane side and his craft of filmmaking. So I would say that this is the highlight of the collection of oral interviews and hence, by releasing it online is a tribute to the man,” mentioned Magdum.

The interviews have been taken by movie researchers, movie students or movie historians within the audio format because the bygone expertise was of the cassettes. Magdum mentioned that the work started a little bit earlier than the lockdown final 12 months to digitise the interviews. “These interviews were taken on audio cassettes. We had to digitise them and also enhance the sound, as the equipment used back then was not very advanced. In most cases one microphone was used between the interviewer and interviewee, with hints of ambience sound also caught on the microphone. Some of the words are feeble so one has to listen carefully to catch the words. We took the help of the Sound Department of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to tweak the quality of the sound as much as possible,” he mentioned.

Magdum additionally lauded the interviewers’ abilities to get them to speak as a number of artists have been at a stage with minimal recall reminiscence. ” The interviews vary in durations from half an hour to 9 hours. We additionally needed to translate and transcribe the interviews in English as lots of them are in respective vernacular languages. We have additionally added outdated images and written context in order that whosoever has a eager curiosity in Indian cinema the world over can profit from it,” he mentioned.

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