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NFAI Pays Tribute to Womanhood in Cinema

The National Film Archive of India has an annual thematic exhibit at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). A trove of treasures when it comes to archival material of India’s filmic heritage, NFAI brings the best of Indian cinema’s history. 

This year, the theme for their exhibit is ‘A tribute to womanhood in cinema’. Comprising 60 posters from films made in India over the past century, these rare posters are arranged in a small ‘time capsule’ at the Green Room at Kala Academy.

“The posters have been curated and selected to represent different time periods in the history of Indian cinema, with  a balance between Hindi and other regional films. In fact, this year, we have more regional films on display than Hindi,” said Prakash Magdum, the director of NFAI, “If you look at the titles of these films, the imagery on the posters and have the context of what the film is about, you will see the gradual change in how women are portrayed in our films – going from being more submissive and victimised to being defiant and able to overcome their circumstances.”

The rarities include a colour-print of Shanti Kumar’s 1953 classic 
Ansoo starring Kamini Kaushal, a poster of one of the major films of the silent era Sati Savitri, and an original poster of Ramnik Vyas’Stunt Queen (1947).

“All the films that appear on display were shortlisted and selected because of a common thread that they follow. Each of these films debates, discusses or highlights women’s issues,” Magdum told The Peacock.

From saint films like Nanabhai Bhatt’s 
Meerabai (1947) and Kothamangalam Subbu’s Avvaiyar (1953) to films about women with disabilities like S Srinivasa Rao’sMayuri (1985) and Gulzar’sKoshish (1972) – this exhibit has some brilliant posters on display, including Antarjali Yatra (1987), Achut Kanya (1936), Balyogini (1936) about a child widow, Sumangali (1940) about widow remarriage, Patita (1953) about an unwed mother, Sati (1989) about obscure traditions and many more.

– Omkar Rege