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Rare 1968 short film on BR Ambedkar in NFAI collection

On Ambedkar Jayanti, the National Film Archive of India announced the acquisition of 'Mahapurush Dr Ambedkar', directed by Namdeo Vatkar

Thane, India - April 12, 2021: An employee of Thane Municipal Corporation cleans the statue of Dr. BR Ambedkar ahead of his 130th birth anniversary, outside Thane Railway station, in Mumbai, India, on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Photo by Praful Gangurde / HT Photo)

New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) A rare Marathi short film made on Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1968 has been acquired by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), an official statement said on Tuesday.

The film titled Mahapurush Dr. Ambedkar was produced by the Director of Publicity, Government of Maharashtra, in July 1968, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ministry said.

Directed by Namdeo Vatkar under the banner of Vathkar Productions, the music for the 18-minute short film was composed by renowned composer Datta Davajekar. Veteran film artiste David Abraham was the narrator for the film.

Namdeo Vatkar was a veteran actor and director in Marathi film industry who wrote and directed films like Aaher featuring Sulochana in 1957 and Mulga featuring Hansa Wadkar in 1956. Vatkar also wrote the story of Ram Gabale film Ghardhani along with P.L.Deshpande in 1952.

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“It is a very timely discovery of the film on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar when we are celebrating 130th birth anniversary of the key architect of the Indian Constitution on 14th April. The short film fictionalises the key events of Dr. Ambedkar’s life and it also has live footage of his later years,” said Prakash Magdum, Director, NFAI.

The film has the visuals of Ambedkar embracing the Buddhist religion and his visit to Nepal along with close-up shots of his funeral procession at Dadar Chowpaty in Mumbai.

“The film was originally made in 35 mm format but what we have found is a 16 mm copy probably meant for distribution in rural areas. The condition of the film is moderate and we plan to digitise it soon so that it can be accessed by people,” said Magdum.

“We appeal to individual collectors and distributors along with others to come forward and submit films or footages at NFAI so that it can be preserved," he said.

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