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The 'Manthan' restoration: Shivendra Singh Dungarpur shares the back story

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New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) For Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, the filmmaker and archivist credited with the restoration of Shyam Benegal's iconic 1976 film 'Manthan', walking the Cannes red carpet on Friday evening was the culmination of a labour of love.

The restored 'Manthan' got a five-minute standing ovation after its screening at the Cannes Classic Selection. It is now slated to be released across India on June 1, which also happens to be the World Milk Day, in honour of the visionary who had inspired the film -- the beloved Milk Man of India, Dr Verghese Kurien.

For Dungarpur, the nephew of Raj Singh Dungarpur, the late Test cricketer and President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and Lata Mangeshkar's partner, the process of restoration involved ferreting out the film's forgotten negatives with the help of 90-year-old Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, the director's favourite cinematographer, who later also helmed the gritty Om Puri film, 'Ardh Satya'.

'Manthan', according to Dungarpur, was restored using the best surviving elements: the 35mm original camera negative preserved at the National Film Archive of India as well as the 35mm release print preserved at Dungarpur's not-for-profit Film Heritage Foundation.

Portions of the original camera negative had the colour fading and variations all over, green mould and flicker, while many parts of the 35mm print had scratches and vertical green lines.

The sound negative had completely deteriorated and could not be used. The sound therefore had to be digitised from the 35mm release print.

The film elements were repaired by conservators working at the Film Heritage Foundation and the scanning and digital clean-up was done at Prasad Lab in Chennai under the supervision of L'Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy, and the grading, sound restoration and mastering was done at the lab in Bologna.

Speaking after the Cannes screening, Dungarpur said in a press statement: "It was amazing walking the red carpet for the third time in a row and presenting another restored classic here in Cannes. The head of Cannes Classic kept talking about the level of restoration and various people came to me to talk about the restoration and said they cannot believe the level of restoration."

He added: "We missed Shyam Benegal as there was a standing ovation that lasted for almost five minutes after the film."

At Cannes, the success of a film is gauged by the length of the standing ovation. The longer, the better.

Dungarpur had previously walked the Cannes red carpet to present the restored versions of the award-winning Odia film, 'Maya Miriga' (1984), by Nirad Mohapatra, and Girish Kasaravalli's Kannada classic 'Ghatashraddha' (1977).

On the red carpet on Friday evening, Dungarpur led the 'Manthan' entourage, which included Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah, Prateik Babbar (actor and son of the late Smita Patil, who played a pivotal role in the film), Nirmala Kurien (daughter of Dr Verghese Kurien), Dr Anita Patil Deshmukh and Manya Patil Seth (sisters of Smita Patil) and Dr Jayen Mehta (Managing Director, Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.).

'Manthan' is a fictionalised version of the beginnings of the extraordinary dairy cooperative movement that transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the world's largest milk producer inspired by Dr Verghese Kurien, the Father of the White Revolution.

The national award-winning film, where the late Girish Karnad plays the Dr Kurien-inspired Dr Rao, is also India's first crowdfunded film produced by 500,000 dairy farmers who contributed Rs 2 each towards its production costs.



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