After ‘Manthan’, FHF restores Odia classic ‘Maya Miriga’

It was Sandeep Mohapatra, son of Nirad Mohapatra, who had approached Shivendra for restoring the film.
After ‘Manthan’, FHF restores Odia classic ‘Maya Miriga’

BHUBANESWAR: Iconic Odia film ‘Maya Miriga’, the original reels of which were left to rot in a warehouse, has been restored by the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF).

The foundation, which recently restored veteran Shyam Benegal’s ‘Manthan’, began work on Nirad Mohapatra’s ‘Maya Miriga’ three years back and the restoration was completed last month. The film is now being readied to be premiered at the Il Cinema Ritrovato (Cinema Rediscovered) Festival in Bologna, Italy, on June 27. The prestigious film festival showcases restored works from cinematographic archives and film laboratories across the world.

‘Maya Miriga’, Mohapatra’s first and only feature film, revolves around the gradual and irreversible process of disintegration in a middle-class joint family living in a small town in Odisha. Considered a classic milestone in the history of Indian cinema in general and Odia cinema in particular, it was released in 1984 and went on to win the Best National Film award and was selected for screening at the ‘critics week’ of Cannes film festival then. Terming the film as a ‘forgotten gem’, filmmaker and founder-director of the foundation, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur said its restoration was important because losing it would have meant losing a precious part of Indian film heritage.

It was Sandeep Mohapatra, son of Nirad Mohapatra, who had approached Shivendra for restoring the film. He had also approached the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), which has two 35 mm prints of the film, for the work but there wasn’t any response.The search for its original camera negative led the FHF team to Prasad lab in Chennai in 2021 where they found 12 reels of the 16 mm original film negative abandoned in a warehouse. The reels were removed from the lab storage over non-payment of dues. On inspection, the reels were found in a bad condition because of mould and halos on the emulsion, broken perforations, high shrinkage, base distortion and colour fading.

“Two of the reels were in critical condition with the images completely or partially damaged. Our conservators undertook the painstaking manual repair of the film over several months before we could send the negative to L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna for scanning. But even the scanned material had blurry images, scratches, vertical lines and halos”, he said. After getting access to one of the 35 mm prints of the film from NFAI, FHF used best scanned portions from it and the original camera negative for restoration. The sound was also taken from the 35 mm print. “During my student days at Film & Television Institute of India, the then director Surender Chawdhary and founder of NFAI PK Nair had told me that Maya Miriga was the best of the new wave films. Restoring it has given us immense satisfaction as we have literally raised the film from the grave,” said the film archivist.

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