On the year and the day India celebrate century of its cinema, here is a film about an unspoken man of Trivendram who deserves standing ovation for his mission, for his spirit and for his commitment that makes him truly a guardian of Indian cinema. Those who haven’t studied at FTII, Pune or do not know much about National Film Archive of India, didn’t aware about a beloved and adorable figure who from early morning to late night kept himself busy and occupied with cans and cans of film reels. Watching them sitting alone in a hall, making meticulous notes on his notebook with pencil torch in one hand and pen in another, preserving and maintaining archive of whatever films came under his nootice and above all sharing & passing all his valuable knowledge and reflections to all fellow students of FTII who in a short run going to become some of the finest Indian actors and directors making their own indeliabl marks on indian cinema. Mr. P K Nair is not just pioneer of film archives, he is an institution to learn on various parameters and I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur for bringing such a refined work on this remarkable man of Indian Cinema. It is due to only his efforts today we have been able to preserve the archives of several landmark films by Dadasaheb Phalke, Bombay Talkies and some of the rare classics like Sant Tukaram, Achut Kanya, Chandralekha, Kalpana.
The film explores the octogenarian man slowly walking inside and outside the old Prabhat Studio; FTII and reminiscing about his years and work. The documentary maintains direct approach in his own voice over where he shares various anecdotes, pleasure of cinema and contemplates about the lost and lack of appreciation of archives. We see the footage of some of those rare films including number of silents. And along with that film also shares perosnal and public anecdotes of various actors and directors of Indian Parelel cinema movement interviewed ranging from Naseer, Shabana, Jaya Bachchan, Benegal, Ketan Mehta, Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, Saeed Mirza, Kumar Shahni, Balu Mahendra, Jahnu Baruah, Vidhu Vinod Chopra & Rajkumar Hirani. And almost all of them are so interesting. It reflects their adoration for man and the significant role he played directly or indirectly in their learning.
In personal notes, it also reflects the void of the man at personal front. The family that keep awaiting for the man at home and their sacrifice for the man who was perhaps born to follow his passion neglecting rest. Towards the end of the film and feeling frustrated after all his herculean effort to save and nutrute the pride archives, the man shares his melancholy about current state of Indian cinema where the art and effect of old B&W pure image lost in digital copy. The film is more than two and half hours long and for documentary it seem too stretched effort but honestly I never felt that bore for a single moment. Credit must goes to editing too for which it won an award along with Best Biographical Film in last National Awards.
There are many intereesting trivia and anecdotes that film brought to my notice. It’s pulling exercise to put all those here, but I would like to share one about one of my favorite actor. Nair said that once Sanjeev Kumar called him at FTII and said that he wanted to see some of Satyajit Ray films, since he was casted in one of his film (Shatranj Ke Khiladi). He confessed that unfortunately he had not seen any of Ray films and he didn’t want to make wrong impression. When Nair told him that he has all the Ray films preserved, within a week Sanjeev landed up at FTII along with his mother, rented a flat in Pune and stayed there for a whole month leaving all his signed films to wait for his part to shoot. And he completed all of Ray films before he started shooting for the Master. “Such was commitment of an actor, where are actors like him now?,” said Nair.
This is truly a film about the man who is more than just Celluloid Man. Go watch this film at your nearest PVR cinema, if they’re running it in Director’s Rare series in your vicinity, a nice and truly appreciable initiative. Hope they continue this effort. Highly Recommended for any Indian cinephile.