Film restoration is an art: Shivendra Singh Dungarpur at MIFF Masterclass

Film restoration is as much an art form as filmmaking as the restorer has to use an artist’s eye and mind to ensure that the restoration is faithful to the original creator’s vision, said national award winning filmmaker, archivist and restorer Shivendra Singh Dungarpur at a masterclass held on the sideline of 17th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) today.

While addressing the masterclass on ‘The Art and Ethics of Film Restoration’ Shri Dungarpur said, “Restoration involves not just the repair of physical damage or deterioration of the film, but takes into consideration the intent of the original creator, artistic integrity, accuracy and completeness of the film.”

He highlighted the five key elements of preservation process, which includes acquisition, conservation, duplication, restoration and accessibility.

“In India by and large we look at film as a commercial entity not as an art form. That is the basic tenet on which the process of restoration is being built. That is one of the reasons for which we have lost many classics like India’s first talkie, ‘Alam Ara’ and first colour film ‘Kisan Kanya’ among others”, flagged Shri Dungarpur.

He also discussed the difference between mass digitization programme and quality restoration.  His deliberation covered the entire restoration process right from research and sourcing the best elements to the restoration workflow and mastering of the output and the afterlife of the restored film. He illustrated the case studies of world class restorations including Uday Shankar’s Kalpana, Satyajit Ray’s Appu Trilogy restored from burnt negatives and Aravindan’s Thamp, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film festival, 2022.


About the Speaker

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur is an award-winning Indian filmmaker, producer, film archivist and restorer who has won acclaim for his films “Celluloid Man”, “The Immortals” and “CzechMate – In Search of Jirí Menzel”. He founded Dungarpur Films in 2001 and also founded Film Heritage Foundation in 2014. In 2012, he won two National Film Awards for his documentary Celluloid Man, based on the life of noted film scholar, preservationist and the founder of National Film Archive of India, P.K. Nair.