‘A FILM MU­SEUM SHOULD LET YOU STEP INTO A MOVIE FROM THE 1920S OR ’40S. IT SHOULD BE AS IN­TER­AC­TIVE AS POS­SI­BLE’

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION -

heir­looms. They don’t want to part with them. Some of the peo­ple who have them and want to sell, want to sell only to the high­est bid­der,” Bene­gal says.

He points out that the mu­seum still does not have the kind of col­lec­tion or equip­ment that he would deem ideal. “If you wish to know what In­dia was like and what its mid­dle class as­pired for, that is yet to take place,” he says. “It is an evolv­ing thing. There should be much more in­ter­ac­tive stuff. You should be able to step into a film of the 1920s or ’40s. It should be as in­ter­ac­tive as mod­ern tech­nol­ogy will al­low it to be.” It’s too ver­bose, is how Shiven­dra Singh Dun­garpur, film di­rec­tor and founder of the Film Her­itage Foun­da­tion (FHF), puts it. “Mostly dry de­tails. In this day, a mu­seum should just not tell peo­ple his­tory in text, but make them feel for that his­tory. The Na­tional Mu­seum of Cin­ema, Turin, Italy or Cine­math­eque in Paris don’t just of­fer de­tails but an ex­pe­ri­ence that peo­ple from across the world travel for.”

In­ex­pli­ca­bly, there’s an en­tire floor ded­i­cated to Ma­hatma Gandhi, a man well­known to have been en­tirely dis­in­ter­ested in cin­ema. Much of this floor is taken up by mem­o­ra­bilia around films with a link to Gandhi. In one cor­ner sits a statue of the leader, watch­ing on a loop the only film he ever did watch — Vi­jay Bhatt’s epic-based Ram Ra­jya (1943).

De­spite a room in Gul­shan Ma­hal ded­i­cated to films rep­re­sen­ta­tive of ma­jor po­lit­i­cal and so­cial move­ments, there is no men­tion of the LGBT move­ment.

“We had hoped that, after the his­toric judg­ment last year strik­ing down Ar­ti­cle 377, rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the move­ment in cin­ema would find a place,” says ac­tivist and film­maker Srid­har Ran­gayan, who also spear­heads the an­nual Kashish queer film festival in Mum­bai.

He plans to sug­gest a list of films that could be added. “No mu­seum is or should be stag­nant and we hope that’s true in this case too, that things will be added over time,” he says. There are cer­tainly plusses — in­clud­ing a col­lec­tion of beau­ti­ful and rare film posters, and the stun­ning restora­tion of Gul­shan Ma­hal it­self.

The set­ting up of the mu­seum was spear­headed by the Na­tional Coun­cil of Science Mu­se­ums. It is now run by the Films Di­vi­sion of In­dia, which is in the process of re­cruit­ing a full-time cu­ra­tor. “An ad­ver­tise­ment is out,” says Prashant Pathrabe, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Films Di­vi­sion.

“Be­ing a gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion, the com­mit­tee had in­volved the Na­tional Coun­cil of Science Mu­se­ums as they had the ex­pe­ri­ence of de­sign­ing a mu­seum.”

Pathrabe says the Films Di­vi­sion wel­comes sug­ges­tions on how to add value to the mu­seum.

“It is a great pos­i­tive step that we have a mu­seum for cin­ema after more than 100 years of mak­ing films,” Bene­gal adds. “Any mu­seum is only a work in progress. With the huge size of our cin­ema in­dus­try, we will def­i­nitely also need more mu­se­ums in dif­fer­ent cities.”

The in­ter­ac­tive VFX sec­tion is a def­i­nite win. It lets you pick a back­ground, pose against a green screen and have a pic­ture taken of the com­pleted ef­fect.

In­ex­pli­ca­bly, an en­tire floor is ded­i­cated to Ma­hatma Gandhi, who is well-known to have had no in­ter­est in cin­ema and only ever watched one film.(Left) Many dis­plays rely on stills and text, with no au­dio­vi­sual or in­ter­ac­tive com­po­nents.

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