Wed, Jan 30, 2019 - Page 6 News List

First Indian film museum opens in home of Bollywood

AFP, MUMBAI

Visitors look at an exhibit at the National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday last week.

Photo: AFP

From silent black-and-white films to colorful blockbusters bursting with song and dance, the evolution of Indian cinema is traced by a new museum in the home of Bollywood.

Costing 1.4 billion rupees (US$19.71 million), India’s first national film museum is spread across a stylish 19th-century bungalow and a modern five-story glass structure in south Mumbai.

“It showcases to the world outside what Indian cinema has achieved in its entirety over more than 100 years,” consulting curator Amrit Gangar said.

India today produces about 1,500 films per year, dwarfing even Hollywood’s output.

The government-funded National Museum of Indian Cinema boasts stacks of memorabilia, recordings and filmmaking tools, as well as interactive touch screens on which visitors can watch clips from memorable movies.

Visitors can learn about India’s first full-length feature film, the 1913 Dadasaheb Phalke-directed Raja Harishchandra, and listen to recordings of K.L. Saigal, considered the first superstar of Hindi-language cinema.

They are also able to view hand-painted movie posters, including for internationally acclaimed director Satyajit Ray’s 1955 hit Pather Panchali, and snap selfies beside a statue of Bollywood icon Raj Kapoor.

The museum takes visitors through “the journey of Indian cinema, from silent films to ‘talkies’ to the studio era to the new wave,” said Prashant Pathrabe, director-general of the Indian government’s film department.

The museum celebrates not just Bollywood, but also the movies made in the various regions and languages across India.

“Films are made in about 25 different regional languages in India and all are included here so that the entire country, irrespective of which part you come from, can enjoy this museum,” Pathrabe said.

The museum also hosts replicas of the Mutoscope, the camera used by the Lumiere brothers, and the Praxinoscope — a spinning cylindrical animation device invented in France in the 1870s.

The idea for the museum was first mooted in 2006 and it was due to open in 2014 when the exhibition rooms housed in the 557m2 heritage building were declared ready.

“This is the first time I have seen such a huge museum about cinema,” said Maria Jones, who had traveled from her home in the southern India state of Kerala, to visit the museum.

“I’m really happy and excited to see the history of Indian cinema until now. The different cameras have been fascinating for me,” she added. “The first cameras were really huge.”

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