Rare documentaries gather dust at state film library

Institute's head says NFAi, FTII were approached for conservation of the collection but there has been no progress

More than 2,000 rare educational documentaries on varied subjects are gathering dust with many of them having already perished at the film library of the Maharashtra State Institute of Audio-Visual Education in Sadashiv Peth.

The treasure-trove of these documentaries, which once was a proud collection of the institute and was in high demand at schools from all over the state, is dying a slow death due to official apathy.

The collection mostly includes documentaries on subjects such as science, history, geography and sports along with noted personalities, which are stored on reels of 16 mm film in round metal cans using an old technology prevalent a few decades ago.

When a Newsline team visited the film library, it could not enter as a stock of unused furniture was piled up at the entrance of the library. Institute staffers, on the condition of anonymity, said the film library was not in use for last several years.

"The library was more like a film club. We used to give membership to schools and issue them documentaries to be screened in their schools. I do not recall when the door of the library was opened last time," a staffer said.

Another staffer said noted singer-musician Hridaynath Mangeshkar had once come all the way to the institute to find a rare audio-visual piece themed on his father and famous musician late Master Deenanath.

When contacted, institute's head VB Sonawane said all possible measures were being taken to preserve the collection at the library, but to no avail.

"We had approached National Film Archive of India (NFAI) and Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) with a request to take over our collection so as to ensure its proper conservation. A team from NFAI had even visited our institute, but no progress could take place thereafter," he told Newsline.

Sonawane said the technique of using projector and screen to display the reel documentaries gradually became obsolete in last few years, which resulted in somewhat negligence towards the collection at the library.

Shamrao Mahanubhav, who represents the staff of Maharashtra State Institute of Audio-Visual Education and other such government institutes, blamed government apathy for the loss of rare documentaries.

The institute, which comes under the State's School Education and Sports department, conducts training sessions for teachers on improving their skill-set using audio-visual aids.

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