“More than 1,000 original prints of old Indian movies – some the only copies – have been destroyed in a fire at the Film and Television Institute of India.
The films were destroyed when a cold storage vault caught fire on Wednesday at the institute in Pune, 180 kilometres east of Mumbai, also known as Bombay.
Most of the original film prints dated back to the classic era of the 1930s and ‘40s and belonged to the National Film Archives of India.
According to the institute’s director, Prem Mathiyani, all the original prints were on nitrate, an inflammable chemical used for preserving films in the 1950s.
The prints lost included the work of some of Bollywood’s pioneering studios such as Prabhat.
Old cinema classics such as Manoos (Man) and Shejari (Neighbour) were stored at the institute.
The original print of Bollywood classic, Raja Harishchandra, was also stored there and it is still not clear whether the film survived. “
By the way, it would be nice if people realised that not all to do with film in India can or should be labelled “Bollywood” (see the Standard headline “Brandkatastrophe in “Bollywood”).