Filmmaker G. Aravindan’s 1979 film Kummatty, which has lost its rich palette of colours over the years, is set to be restored to its original glory through an international restoration project. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, a program created by filmmaker Martin Scorsese in 2007, the Film Heritage Foundation and Italy-based Cineteca di Bologna are collaborating to restore the film.
The film will be restored at the L’Immagine Ritrovata lab in Bologna, Italy, and will have its world restoration premiere at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival late July.
“Aravindan was a visionary director and Kummatty is considered among his greatest work. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project will share this film with the wider audience it deserves, making it a true cinematic discovery,” said TFF founder and chair Martin Scorsese.
Filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, director, Film Heritage Foundation, travelled to Kollam to meet K. Ravindranathan Nair of General Pictures, the producer of five of Aravindan’s films, including Kummatty. He agreed to give permission for the restoration and for the team to access the prints from the National Film Archive of India. The NFAI gave them both prints for the lab to check the elements.
“Ever since I first worked with The Film Foundation on the restoration of Uday Shankar’s Kalpana (1948) in 2012, I have seen how beautifully and respectfully they have been restoring films and giving these films a new life. Every time I watch a beautifully restored film, I think of so many landmark films of Indian cinema that are crying out to be preserved, restored and showcased in their original beauty once again to the public to be appreciated. Aravindan’s films have been on the top of the list not just because he is a master, but one who I feel has not gotten the recognition he deserves and whose films sadly are not in circulation. It broke my heart when I learned that all the original camera negatives of his films are lost and all we have are prints, not in the best condition,” said Mr.Dungarpur.
Kummatty, winner of the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Children’s Film in 1979, tells the story of a Pied Piper-like character who materialises in the village one day mingling with the children and weaving a spell of carefree abandon. He casts a spell and turns the children into animals. One boy, Chindan, is transformed into a dog, but misses the moment when the other children are turned back to human form and has to wait a year for Kummatty to reverse the spell.