Variety

NMIC: A glimpse into India’s first cinema museum

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on November 06, 2019 Published on November 06, 2019

Gulshan Mahal a 19th century bungalow in films division complex which has been restored as part of the National Museum of India Cinema (NMIC) project in Mumbai.   -  PAUL NORONHA

The National Museum of Indian Cinema(NMIC) chronicles the history and development of Indian cinema from the early 19th century to technologically advanced equipment era

Set amidst the ornate arches and expansive halls of Gulshan Mahal, a 19th century Victorian bungalow, the National Museum of Indian Cinema – India’s first one  –  encompasses  the journey of Indian cinema through  centuries.

A trove for film aficionados, the NMIC chronicles the history and development of Indian cinema, with its vintage artifacts in Gulshan Mahal dating from the early 19th century  while the technologically advanced equipment and interactive exhibits of the present housed in the new museum building next to it.

Location

It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January  this year at the Films Division Complex, Pedder Road. The museum is spread across Gulshan Mahal’s sprawling two storeys, as well as the five storeys of the new glass building next door. The Museum Advisory Committee is headed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal and supported by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

SLIDESHOW: Get a glimpse behind the silver screen at the National Museum of Indian Cinema

At Gulshan Mahal, faint sounds of various cinemas playing on  small screens  break the  silence of the serene museum  as one  explores the chronological history of Indian cinema. Gulshan Mahal provides a glimpse into the early history of Indian cinema, depicting events like the famous first show of the Lumiere brothers’ films in Mumbai in 1896.

Visitors look at the old cameras, graphics, publicity materials and photos displaying the journey of Indian Cinema at National Museum of India Cinema in South Mumbai.   -  PAUL NORONHA

 

The  two-storey building is curated into nine exhibition spaces dedicated to various themes  such as the origin of cinema, silent films, studio era, the impact of World War II, creative resonance, new wave and beyond, and regional cinema. Resplendent original film posters of classics also adorn the walls.

Visitors look at the old cameras, graphics, publicity materials and photos displaying the journey of Indian Cinema at National Museum of India Cinema recently inaugurated in South Mumbai   -  PAUL NORONHA

 

The hand cranked camera used by Dadasaheb Phalke for his movie, Raja Harischandra – celebrated for having inaugurated the Indian film industry – advertisements for this film from that time, Arricord 35 mm camera used  in the 1950s and 1960s, film magazines of 1940s, a chronological repository of famous movies in India from 1913 to 2013, as well as booklets and EP records of Satyajit Ray films are some of the  vintage stuff film lovers can look forward to.

Visitor look at the old camera, graphics, publicity materials and photos displaying the journey of Indian Cinema at National Museum of India Cinema recently inaugurated in South Mumbai   -  PAUL NORONHA

 

While  showcasing the evolution of Indian cinema  through explanatory notes accompanying photos and newspaper articles, it also sheds light on the tumultuous history of India and the varying socio-cultural and economic conditions through the years.

The portrayal of nationalism in films during colonial times, female actors in silent films, the rise and prominence of stardom in films, films and social turbulence and how cinema became a springboard for political aspirants are some of the themes it explores.

Newer exhibits

Meanwhile, the new building has four floors dedicated to themes  such as Gandhi and cinema, children’s film studio, technology, creativity and Indian cinema, and cinema across India.

Gandhi and Cinema a Timeline, cameras, graphics, publicity materials and photos displaying the journey of Indian Cinema at National Museum of India Cinema in South Mumbai.   -  PAUL NORONHA

 

Gandhi and Cinema explores Gandhi’s impact on cinema, exploring various movies which were influenced by his philosophies. That Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times is based on the meeting between the two – in which Chaplin sought Gandhi’s philosophy on automation – is one of the many interesting facts it throws up.

Children’s film studio gives  a hands-on experience with camera, light, accessories, shooting, editing and the like, while the technology, creativity and Indian cinema section has various apparatus accompanied by stories of how acclaimed film veterans deployed the same, as well as the technology involved in various stages of film-making. The Cinema across India section offers a take on the cinematographic culture in the country.

True to its  reputation of being the country’s first,  the museum offers a detailed and vivid depiction of the evolution of Indian cinema.  Its presence in Mumbai, the country’s entertainment capital, is a befitting tribute.

Published on November 06, 2019
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.