As the country is about to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema in Shillong tomorrow. Here’s a good news for Assamese film industry and old movie fans. The National Film Archives of India (NFAI) has digitally restored an Assamese film made in 1952, whose only print was missing for over 40 years till it was recovered in a village in Assam in March 2010.
The sole print of the 9th Assamese feature film “Runumi“, written and directed by noted novelist-Sattriya dance exponent, the late Suresh Chandra Goswami. NFAI has been able to restore only about 85% of the film, as the remaining portion got damaged over the years. The film is also restored with the English subtitle, and has sent a master DVD to Goswami’s grandson, National Award- winning film critic Utpal Borpujari.
It was somewhere in 1967 that Goswami’s brother-in-law, the late Lakshmi Borthakur, had taken the only print of the film for screening in tea gardens near Biswanath Chariali on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river, and since then it had been lying inside a steel trunk for more than four decades at his residence without anyone noticing it. The practice of screening films in an open ground in tea gardens during festivals was a popular practice in the state of Assam for long.
While Goswami himself never followed up the matter to get the only film print back with him, there was no trace of the negative of the film. After Goswami passed away in 1984, there was virtually no possibility of finding out the whereabouts of the print until now!