GUWAHATI, May 7 - Indian film industry�s legacy has got a new lease of life in the digital archives of Assam�s Jyoti Chitraban film studio with the colour restoration and digital upscaling of the available footage of Raja Harishchandra � the 1913 Indian silent film, directed and produced by the legendary Dadasaheb Phalke.
Raja Harishchandra is considered as the first full-length Indian feature film. The film, which is partially lost due to absence of digital preservation techniques in those days, and lack of proper initiative for restoration in subsequent times, had only some of its first and last reels archived. The digital version of the remaining portion of the film has also been done in low resolution that is not fit for long-term restoration and usage.
�With colour restoration and enhanced resolution of the remaining footage, we paid our tribute to the beginning of Indian cinema. It holds special significance at this time as the film completed 107 years on May 3, 2020,� said Archive Head of Jyoti Chitraban Axl Hazarika, the person behind the upscaling and restoration work.
A total of 11 minutes and 19 seconds of the approximately 40-minute film is available now in fragments for Indian cinema to be proud of its roots. To make it future-proof, it has been rendered in 25 frames per second (FPS), which is one of the standard resolutions around. Ranging from coding to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Hazarika took help of the most modern techniques for making the film fit for long-term preservation without compromising on the quality.
�Extensive research was done searching for a better and well-preserved copy of the film prior to taking up this project. The lack of initiative on the part of any national film entity indeed came as a surprise to us,� Hazarika told this reporter.
After three months of hard work on the project, the final version was created. �I feel a better digital version of the existing footage is not possible in today�s time,� he stated.
The Jyoti Chitraban archive section is also working on a number of projects to upscale the digital version of old Assamese films, videos, songs and even literature.
�We have plans to revive the remaining footage of the first Assamese film Joymoti by the iconic filmmaker Jyotiprasad Agarwalla with a better resolution of minimum 4K along with colour restoration of the film. A project to digitally revive old literature and club it with real-time translation is also on the cards,� Hazarika added.