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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Restored 4K version of Shyam Benegal’s 1976 classic Manthan screened at Cannes

Naseeruddin Shah, who plays a key role in the film, spoke about the film ahead of its screening at Salle Bunuel

PTI Cannes Published 18.05.24, 05:13 PM
Restored poster of Manthan.

Restored poster of Manthan. IMDb

A significant slice of New Indian Cinema history was under the spotlight at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on Friday night. A restored 4K version of "Manthan" (The Churning), Shyam Benegal’s 1976 film about the creation of India’s first dairy cooperative in a Gujarat village, lit up the screen at Salle Bunuel.

Naseeruddin Shah, a key member of the film’s cast, spoke ahead of the screening.“First and foremost, this show of Manthan is dedicated to Dr. Verghese Kurien,” the veteran actor said. “It is also an occasion to recall Smita Patil, Girish Karnad, Amrish Puri and music composer Vanraj Bhatia.” “It was my second film as a screen actor,” Shah said. “I was extremely nervous about how it would do at the box office. Nobody gave the film a ghost of chance but it turned out to be a sleeper hit that generated more work for all of us.” The actor said that at a time when Hindi filmmakers would make only what they felt that the audience wanted to see, Shyam Benegal “found ways to speak about the truth of the times”.

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"Manthan", funded with a contribution of Rs 2 each from half a million milk farmers, was a follow-up to Benegal’s first two films, "Ankur" (1974) and "Nishant" (1976), which was in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It completed a timely and powerful trilogy on rural distress.

"Manthan" was restored using a 35mm camera negative preserved at the National Film Archive of India. The sound was digitised from the 35mm release print in the possession of Film Heritage Foundation (FHF), which undertook the restoration project a year and a half ago. It was funded by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.

The film was restored under the aegis of FHF at Prasad Corporation’s post-studios and the Bologna-based L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Benegal and cinematographer Govind Nihalani.

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, speaking after Cannes Classics in-charge Gerald Duchaussoy introduced "Manthan", said: “It is an extraordinary feeling to be here for the third year in a row.” FHF was in Cannes Classics in 2022 with Aribam Syam Sharma’s Manipur classic "Ishanou" and in 2023 with G. Aravindan’s masterly "Thampu".

Dungarpur said that Benegal was not only thrilled with the restoration, he also said that the film is now better than what he had shot.

Dungarpur revealed that the restored "Manthan" will release in 70 cities on June 1. “If you restore a film, you have also got to distribute it,” he added.

Smita Patil’s son Prateik Babbar was on the stage to share his emotions while the late actor's sisters, Anita Patil Deshmukh and Manya Patil Seth, were in the audience.

Also present at the screening of Manthan was Dr. Kurien’s daughter, Nirmala Kurien.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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