The film, released in 1970, formed the premiere of the legendary director’s “Calcutta Trilogy”.
For most moviegoers around the world, the instant cinematic identification of legendary director Satyajit Ray comes with either the famous ‘Apu trilogy’ of films (1955-59) or other classics like Charulata, Mahanagar (The big city) Where Ashani sanket (Distant thunder).
While the above films were available in high quality copies overseas and in India due to their digital restoration, blank copies were lacking for Ray’s other ‘trilogy’ he made. in the 1970s – the so-called ‘Calcutta trilogy’ starting with Pratidwandi (The adversary) in 1970, based on a novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay.
Today, the Pune-based National Film Archive of India (NFAI), on the centenary of the birth of the great author (Ray was born in May 1921), began the process of restoring Ray’s films under under the auspices of National Film Heritage. Mission (NFHM) and at the top of the list is Pratidwandi.
âRight from the start, the priority was to focus on restoring Satyajit Ray films that have not received due attention in recent years. Pratidwandi was at the top of the list. Until now, the film has been available in poor quality, possibly from a transfer made in the late 1990s or early 2000s. To locate the original camera negative, NFAI contacted the producer of the film. Purnima Dutta movie. Fortunately, Ms. Dutta had kept the original negatives of Pratidwandi in its possession for 50 years in Kolkata, which is an incredible achievement in itself, âsaid Prakash Magdum, director of the NFAI.
Ray’s âCalcutta Trilogyâ offers an unforgettable and heartbreaking showcase of the toll imposed by the great metropolis in turmoil on educated young men, captured by the director with his characteristic depth of feeling. In Pratidwandi, the sensitive and frustrated 25-year-old protagonist Siddhartha (unforgettablely played by Dhritiman Chatterjee) searches to no avail.
In his biography of Ray titled Satyajit Ray, The Inner Eye: the biography of a master filmmaker, British writer Andrew Robinson notes how the filmmaker remembered Calcutta as “a city of nightmares” in 1970 when making Pratidwandi, who opposed the rise of the Naxalite revolutionary movement.
“Pratidwandi, as well as the two other films that make up the Calcutta trilogy – Seemabaddha and Jana Aranya, capturing the city as a ‘time capsule’ like no other film. There is, of course, the equally great “Calcutta Trilogy” by director Mrinal Sen, again shot and released in the first half of the 1970s. But the cinematic rawness that Ray achieved in Pratidwandi was a new high for him, surpassing that of the same Pather Panchali in some ways. The upheaval that Calcutta was going through in the late 1960s and early 1970s is reflected beautifully, and most importantly, in an accessible way, in Pratidwandi“Said Mr. Magdum.
Commenting on the negatives, the NFAI director said he was pleasantly surprised to find them in decent condition, even after five decades.
âThe very step in restoring a film is to get hold of the original camera negative, that is, the edited negative that was used by the filmmakers during the shooting of the film itself. So we transported the film negatives to a temperature-controlled environment from Calcutta to Pune, âMr. Magdum said.
At the NFAI premises, the film must first be digitized using state-of-the-art archival film scanners manufactured by the Munich-based company ARRI, which is widely known to supply quality film cameras. first-rate across the world, he said.
âThese ARRI scanners have the capacity to process very fragile films. The original negative of Pratidwandi has been scanned [aka digitised] on one of these ARRI scanners in 4K resolution. The digitization of the film will be followed by a restoration, which is an extremely time-consuming activity as it literally involves working on every frame, one second equating to 24 frames of the scanned film, âsays Magdum, adding that the process will involve l removal of scratches and dirt, image stabilization and complete color correction, among others.
Over the next few months, the NFAI intends to complete the restoration of Pratidwandi, giving filmmakers around the world the opportunity to see the film as it was when it was released 51 years ago.