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Lost Assamese film to be restored


‘Runumi', found after 40 years, had been banned soon after its release


Guwahati: The sole surviving print of the ninth Assamese feature film, ‘ Runumi', which was banned soon after its release in 1952 and retrieved after 40 years would soon be digitised by the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) in Pune.

Directed and produced by noted Sattriya dance exponent and writer Suresh Chandra Goswami, the print of the film had been lying in a trunk in his nephew Amiya Borthakur's house in Bihirgaon in Sonitpur district.

Borthakur recently returned the print to Goswami's daughter Dolly Borpujari and his film critic grandson Utpal Borpujari sent it to NFAI for restoration and preservation.

Goswami's brother-in-law Lakshminath Borthakur had taken it for screening in some teagardens in Sonitpur district and since then it was lying in a tin trunk in his residence.

“The 13 reels of the film are still in the original cans and we approached the NFAI for its scientific restoration and preservation,” says Borpujari.

NFAI Director Vijay Jadhav says work on restoration process of the film is expected to begin soon.

“We received the reels on March 31 and will be soon sending them for digitisation. The cans had rusted and had several holes in it. We, however, hope that at least 60 to 70 per cent of the film would be digitised.”

The reels will first undergo chemical and ultrasonic cleaning, he adds.

Borpujari points out that preliminary inspection indicated a significant part of the film could be intact though the actual condition of the print would be revealed only after it is checked by experts.

“High humidity of the region have rusted the cans with a few even developing cracks and due to this the contents may have got damaged,” he adds.

Runumi's restoration and preservation is particularly important as it is a part of Assam's cinematic heritage and also as many films produced in the state during the early years have been lost due to lack of proper storage, he says.

Based on Goswami's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play 'The Warriors at Helgeland', Runumi set in Assam and Nagaland had been running to a good response when it was unexpectedly banned by the then state government under Chief Minister Bishnu Ram Medhi without giving any reason.

Goswami's family has also appealed to the state government to divulge reasons for the ban and Borpujari has asked for people directly or indirectly associated with the making of Runumi to come forward.

Runumi, a love story, was the second film to be shot on location and on open floor after the first Assamese film Joymoti by Jyotiprasad Agarwalla. -- PTI

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