Martin Scorsese, George Lucas Team With Film Heritage Foundation to Restore Indian Classic ‘Ghatashraddha’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Rexa Vella

Martin Scorsese, George Lucas Team With Film Heritage Foundation to Restore Indian Classic ‘Ghatashraddha’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) have partnered to restore Girish Kasaravalli‘s seminal Indian film “Ghatashraddha” (“The Ritual,” 1977).

The landmark Kannada-language film is based on a novella by litterateur U.R. Ananthamurthy that left a deep impression on Kasaravalli when he read it in high school. Set in southern India, the film describes the ostracism of a young woman who transgresses the rigid sexual code of the orthodox society. It follows Yamuna, a child widow living with her father in the religious school which he runs. Seduced and made pregnant by the teacher of the local government school, Yamuna attempts suicide but is rescued by a young student of her father’s with whom she has a deep affection. She agrees to an abortion and is made an outcast by her father, who performs a funeral ritual for his still-living daughter. In this rite, an earthen pot, symbol of fertility, is broken.

India’s Film Heritage Foundation, led by archivist and filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, will lead the restoration, which is supported by the Scorsese-founded The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project with funding for the restoration provided by George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson’s Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. The restoration will be done at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy. The source element for the restoration is the original camera negative preserved at the National Film Development Corporation-National Film Archive of India.

FHF has collaborated in the past with the World Cinema Project to restore Aravindan Govindan’s milestone Malayalam-language films “Kummatty” (1979) and “Thamp̄” (1978). The restored “Thamp̄” was selected for Cannes Classics 2022. FHF also restored Aribam Syam Sharma’s Manipuri-language film “Ishanou” (1990), which played at Cannes Classics 2023. It is currently working on restoring more Indian all-time classics, including Ramesh Sippy’s “Sholay” (1975), Shyam Benegal’s “Manthan” (1976) and Nirad Mahapatra’s “Maya Miriga” (1984).

Kasaravalli is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. His diploma film “Avashesh,” was won best student film there, and best short fiction film at India’s National Film Awards. He began filming “Ghatashraddha” in 1976. It released in 1977 and won three prizes at the National Film Awards, including best film. The restoration will be completed in time for the 50th anniversary of its making.

The filmmaker is one of the pioneers of India’s parallel cinema movement and notable works include “Tabarana Kathe” (1987), “Bannada Vesha” (1988), “Mane” (1990), “Thaayi Saheba” (1997), “Dweepa” (2002), “Hasina” (2004), “Gulabi Talkies” (2008), “Kanasemba Kudureyaneri” (2010) and “Koormavatara” (2012). In 2003, he was honored at International Film Festival Rotterdam as Film Maker in Focus.

“The fact that my film has been selected for restoration by none other than these doyens among filmmakers, is a matter of pride and great honor. I am thankful to Mr. Scorsese and World Cinema Project and Mr. George Lucas and Mrs. Mellody Hobson and Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation,” Kasaravalli said. “I would also like to give my sincere thanks to Mr. Shivendra Singh Dungarpur of Film Heritage Foundation who not only did put forward the proposal for restoration but also pursued it to its logical conclusion. Under his guidance, The Film Heritage Foundation has been rendering yeoman service in the area of archival preservation and restoration. It is a joy to see that the restoration work at the foundation is undertaken with so much love and care for the art form along with due respect to the innate vision of the filmmaker. I just can’t wait to see the restored version of my film in all its pristine beauty.”

Dungarpur added: “With 14 National Awards to his credit, Girish Kasaravalli is a leading light of Kannada cinema and we preserve his material in our archive.  His first film ‘Ghatashraddha’ was an obvious next choice for us to propose for restoration to The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. We are so pleased that they agreed to collaborate with us and delighted that George Lucas and Mellody Hobson will be supporting the restoration through the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.”


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