Restored films should be digitalised to ensure longer life: Altaf Mazid

NEW DELHI: Joymoti, an Assamese film by the late Jyotiprasad Agarwalla, was a film far ahead of its times when made in 1935 and was inspired by movements in Russia in the 1920s, noted filmmaker Altaf Mazid said here.

Addressing a press meet at the ongoing 10th OCFF about the restoration of the film undertaken by him at his own cost because of the way he was impressed with the film, Altaf said he had been inspired to make the film when he saw a documentary on the Agarwalla 25 years ago and his curiosity was aroused.

He stated looking at the film as not just an interest state artifact, but also a nationally significant piece of Indian culture. The film was based on Lakshminath Bezbaruah’s play on the 17th century story of Sati Joymati and starred Aideu Handique and Phani Sharma.

Interestingly after much search, only one reel of the film could be found in the garage in the house then occupied by Agarwalla’s house.

Since the rights of the film lay with the Assam Government, Altaf said he had proceeded on his own and managed to collect parts of the film from various sources and restored it. He hopes the state will produce a digital print from the restored version.

Joymoti was the first film in Assamese and was also the first talkie in the state when it was released by Chitralekha Movietone in 1935.

Altaf is a critic turned filmmaker who made his first film Jibon in the mid-nineties and screened it at the International Film Festival of India in Hyderabad. It won the Director’s prize at the Seventh Pyongyang Film Festival of Non-aligned and Developing countries. Lakhtokiat Golam (Closed Door and stuff inside the magazine syndrome) was able to attract wide critical appraisal and other films include Our Common future, The Joy of Giving, Las Vegasat, and Bhal Khabar. Noting he preferred to make films on the video format because they became more personal, he said his next one is on the River Pagladia in Assam which flows down from Bhutan.

Altaf said he found that the content and the format of Joymati were very different from conventional films. The restored film has already been screened in several festivals in India and overseas including the ‘bollywood and Beyond’ in Stuttgart in Germany and in Rome and Munich. He had spent Rs 300,000 from his personal savings for the restoration and had not received any help from the government so far.

At present he is in the process of sub-titling four other Assamese films of the early era, including some of the seventies.

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