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October 8, 2014

West Bengal government to set up an eight-storey film centenary museum

West Bengal government to set up an eight-storey film centenary museum

West Bengal government will set up an eight-storey film centenary museum in Kolkata where film artifacts and memorabilia have mostly been at the disposal of private hands. The archive, which will be a treat for both film lovers and researchers, will come up at Tollygunge, not too far away from the studio-para and its associated industry, Tollywood.

The museum project, meant to mark 100 years of Indian cinema and the “golden age” of Bengali cinema, will maintain a record of films released down the ages. The proposed 'Cinema Centenary Campus', as it has been christened, will have a built-up space of 60,000 square feet. It will be equipped with state-of-the-art galleries and lighting systems. The state information and culture department is preparing a list of films to be acquired for the project. Another list of restored films, which will be transferred into negatives, is also being chalked out.

Starting off as a ready-reckoner of the history of cinema, especially Bengali cinema, the museum will trace the evolution of celluloid from the Lumiere brothers to Raja Harishchandra and beyond, and showcase Indian and Bengali cinema through three principal eras – silent, golden and modern.

The multi-storey structure, which will come up at the erstwhile Radha Studio complex beside M R Bangur Hospital, will have a basement for parking. The PWD has taken up the construction. The fire services department has also been roped in for a thorough fire prevention network.

The biggest attraction of the project will be a library that will document film history right from the era of silent movies to those of the digital age. Space has been reserved to construct guest rooms for visiting film artists, directors and technicians, a cafeteria, a curio shop and an auditorium. While inaugurating the renovated century-old Technicians' Studio in February this year, the chief minister had expressed her intention to create an exhaustive film museum. She apparently got the idea from the 6,000-square foot National Museum of Indian Cinema set up by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting in Mumbai. However, Banerjee's plans are on a much bigger scale. The centenary campus will hold film-related seminars and workshops, apart from regular film shows.

Vaults will be installed in the proposed museum with state-of-the-art temperature and humidity control systems for preserving colour and black and white films. Visitors will also be able to watch old classics on a number of monitors or listen to rare film music from the past – a sort of free jukebox.

A two-storey building for film studies that existed on the Radha Studio campus on Deshpran Sashmal Road at Tollygunge is now being dismantled for the construction of the film centenary museum.