Amitabh Bachchan, brand ambassador of the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) in his virtual opening speech said, “This cause is all about saving our film heritage. I am proud to say that we’ve sparked the movement of film preservation and this is just the beginning. This cause demands passion. Film archivists are as important as filmmakers. They are the memory keepers of our legacy.”
His speech was followed by Boman Irani and FHF Founder Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s presentation of the foundation’s work. The highlight of the evening was chief guest Gulzar saheb’s thoughts on the cause. In an emotional moment, as he held Shivendra’s hand, he said, “If you put together all the films that I have made, Shivendra’s work of film preservation and restoration is more important than that. I hope my films are preserved, too.”
Gulzar was moved by the deserving acknowledgement and honour bestowed upon Lifetime Achievement Award winner Virchand Dharamsey, veteran historian and researcher, considered as the only authority on silent cinema today. The Champion of Film Heritage Award was granted to Damith Fonseka, Johnson Rajkumar and Chiranjibi Guragain for their stellar work as film archivists. Govind Nihalani, Kumar Shahani and Rohan Sippy were also present on the occasion.
Shivendra Singh Dungarpur told Bombay Times, “Three people who have had a massive influence on my life and career were part of the opening ceremony in their own way. I wanted to get into films because of Amitabh Bachchan. I assisted Gulzar saheb as a director who pushed me to join FTII and it was Shyam Benegal who interviewed me at the film institute. Life comes full circle.”
The week-long workshop will have sessions on film preservation and screenings of classics at Regal Cinema.