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Original negative of SS Rajamouli’s Magadheera (2009) is missing, reveals Shivendra Singh Dungarpur

The founder and director of the Film Heritage Foundation was speaking at a masterclass at the Mumbai International Film Festival.

SS Rajamouli (File photo)

Keyur Seta

We have heard of old black-and-white films going missing, but film archivist and restorer Shivendra Singh Dungarpur revealed that even the negative of a film as recent as SS Rajamouli’s superhit Magadheera (2009) is nowhere to be found.

Speaking at a masterclass at the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), Dungarpur said, “Many, many original negatives of some of the most important films have gone, including [SS] Rajamouli’s Magadheera (2009). Now that’s not very far off; that’s 2009. George Eastman [Italian actor] wanted a print of Magadheera. It could not be arranged. It was so difficult to get a print of Magadheera. This is all a part of how much we lose every day.”

This does not mean, of course, that Magadheera is no longer available for watching. The Ram Charan and Kajal Aggarwal-starrer is available on Disney+ Hotstar, MX Player and YouTube. 

Dungarpur said a large number of films made by the iconic Malayalam filmmaker G Aravindan have not survived. "We just restored Kummatty (1979) and Thampu (1978)," he said. "[Apart from these films] all Aravindan’s negatives are gone. Not a single negative of G Aravindan films survives."

Dungarpur is the founder and director of the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF), which is based in Mumbai. He presented a startling account of the fate of India’s silent films. “Out of 1,338 silent films, only 29 survive at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI)," he said. "So we lost maybe 99% of films from the silent era. By 1950, we had lost 70 or 80%.”

Dungarpur said that the country has lost not just silent films, but also a large number of the total films made here. According to him, nearly 80% of silent films are unavailable for viewing. "That’s how much we have lost. Even the NFAI, which was a large collection by PK Nair in his time, has only 18,000 to 20,000 Indian films when we were producing nearly 2,000 films till before this year,” he said.

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Mumbai International Film Festival