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The National Museum of Indian Cinema A delight for the senses

Posted on 24/07/2022 on Trivia- The Spice of Life

The National Museum of Indian Cinema – Camera, Lights, Action!
Image Courtesy : https://www.freepressjournal.in/

It is rather disheartening that even in the city where cinema has blossomed and flourished, there are not many who know about the National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC). The mention of the museum leads many to think that it is the National Museum at Janpath, New Delhi that one is referring to. The COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps, has to be blamed for this.

The stars descended as the PM inaugurated NMIC

NMIC was inaugurated on 19th January, 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I was in fact fortunate to have witnessed the inauguration live. All the stars from the world of music and cinema – Kamini Kaushal, Manoj Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and many more – had descended to attend the event. The museum is located at the Films Division Complex, Pedder Road, not very far from where the nightingale of India – Lata Mangeshkar – used to stay. There couldn’t have been a better location for the museum. The Museum Advisory Committee headed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal and supported by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was instrumental in its taking shape. NMIC was conceptualized, designed and developed by the National Council of Science Museums, which functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The state-of-the-art museum on Indian cinema – the first of its kind – was still trying to proclaim its presence when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and thus the museum was shut for a good two years.

I had planned to visit the museum at leisure after the dust of the inauguration had settled. It was finally after more than two years that I managed to – last week – braving the Mumbai rains. I must admit that it was indeed worth all the trouble that I took.

Gulshan Mahal the heritage structure

The journey down the memory lane of Indian cinema aptly begins from the fascinating two storeyed Gulshan Mahal – a 19th century bungalow located in the Films Division Complex. The Gulshan Mahal is an ASI Grade – II heritage structure. The adaptive re-use of the structure is impressive. In Gulshan Mahal, the 100 years of Indian cinema is tastefully documented in nine different sections – The Origin of Cinema. Cinema Comes to India, Indian Silent Film, Advent of Sound, The Studio Era, The Impact of World War II, Creative Resonance, New Wave and beyond and Regional Cinema. Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harischandra is shown in a loop in one of the sections.

From here the visitor goes to the New Museum Building (which is just adjacent to the Gulshan Mahal) and takes an elevator to the fourth level. So from the ground floor of Gulshan Mahal one is transported to the heights of the fourth floor to gradually descend to the lower levels of the New Museum Building, making it an unforgettable roller coaster ride into the world of Indian cinema. The four levels of the New building are – Cinema across India (Level 4), Technology, Creativity & Indian Cinema (Level 3), Children’s Film Studio (Level 2) and Gandhi & Cinema (Level 1). All these are interactive and house working models of various equipment.

On 2nd May, 2022, the centenary exhibition – Satyajit Ray: The Poet of Cinema – was inaugurated by Shyam Benegal in the ground floor of the New Museum Building of the NMIC. The highlight of Ray’s gallery is his near life sized model which looks so life like. You almost feel that the model will start speaking any moment.

MY (AMATEURISH !!) PHOTO GALLERY

As I walked intently, from one hall to another of Gulshan Mahal tracing the journey of Indian Cinema, I was in awe of the commendable effort put in to make models of vintage filmmaking-equipment such as the praxinoscopes, zoetropes and mutoscopes to name a few, from the time film making began. If only the visitors would appreciate the same and not tinker with them!! The problem in India is that many a museum visitor has an irresistible tendency to fiddle with any switch or handle he can lay his hands on, whether it makes any sense to him or not.

The best part about a museum like NMIC is that it has the potential to cater to various groups – be it students learning various technical/non-technical aspects of film making or the average film goer who decides the fate of the movie at the box office. There are still others like me who are somewhere in between. This was paradise for a blogger like me who has a keen interest in golden era film music and cinema. Also having understood the challenges of running a museum housed in a heritage building from close quarters, I appreciate the struggles of those who have to grapple with crises of various kinds on a daily basis. One must understand that managing a museum – especially one with a lot of interactive equipment in a heritage building with limited resources – is an arduous task. On our part, we as avid bloggers and lovers of Indian films and their music must spread the word about the treasure trove that is yet to be fully discovered.

5 thoughts on “The National Museum of Indian Cinema A delight for the senses

  1. Anitaji,

    The museum has been on my to-visit list ever since I read about its opening.
    Somehow, it remained pending, thanks to the covid19 pandemic and the usual traffic snares in Mumbai.
    Mumbaikars always worry about – kitna time lagega and bahut traffic hai, especially when you want to go from Mulund to Pedder Road for non-work purpose!
    Thanks a lot for your post. I am now seriously planning my visit there. Looks interesting and exciting.
    Just wondering if it is open on Sunday.
    Since you have posted some pictures, I believe, they allow clicking of photos. Is that so?

    Like

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