Coming soon in Mumbai, first-of-its-kind national museum of cinema

MuseumGulshan Mahal at Films Division in Mumbai. Prashant Nadkar

From beyond the charming Victorian facade of Gulshan Mahal, comes the unconventional music of hammers and carpenters' saws. Inside the building, located on the Films Division premises on Pedder Road, staff of the National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata, are racing against time to put together panels depicting the origins and growth of Indian cinema.

The National Museum of Indian Cinema, the first of its kind in India, is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-November.

Once complete, the museum will contain re-created scenes from landmark films like Dadasaheb Phalke's Raja Harishchandra using sculpture, and replicas of old cameras and long-missing shooting equipment. The ongoing work includes preparing a verandah that allows a walk through multiple eras of Hindi and regional cinema, complete with posters, booklets, lobby cards and other exhibits.

V S Kundu, director general of Films Division, said the proposal for the museum came from the information and broadcasting ministry. A detailed project report was prepared three years later, and the plan was approved by the Planning Commission in 2010.

Work, however, was delayed after residents of four housing societies on Pedder Road moved the Bombay HC pleading that the museum would cause traffic and noise pollution. The court's approval came in May 2012.

"Adjacent to Gulshan Mahal, a spacious studio will open simultaneously as part of the first phase," Kundu said. "This will host a number of film-related activities including symposiums, workshops and movie screenings."

Approvals for the construction for the museum's second phase too have been obtained. A 10-storey building is planned, which will house a gallery, a food court, a film preservation centre and two theatres. A parking zone with 138 underground and on-ground slots is under construction. The project is projected to cost Rs 116 crore.

The National Council of Science Museums got the contract to create the museum in 2010. A year earlier, film historian Amrit Gangar had been chosen to curate the exhibits. "After joining the project, I traveled across India collecting memorabilia associated with Indian cinema," Gangar said.

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