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Cinema archives of German lensman Josef Wirsching slated for Chennai exhibition

Tamil Nadu,National,Cinema/Showbiz

Author : Indo Asian News Service

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Chennai, July 17 (IANS) Captured by Bombay Talkies' German-born cinematographer Josef Wirsching, images and digital reprints of early Indian cinema (1920s-60s) will be on display at Chennai's Lalit Kala Akademi from Friday.

The archival, behind-the-scenes photographs have been shot primarily on 35 mm with a Leica camera.

These Wirsching Archives images are well-preserved photographs of cast and crew, production stills and publicity images -- presenting early figures like Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar, Leela Chitnis, Jairaj, Hansa Wadkar and Dilip Kumar.

The Wirsching archives are now being managed by Josef Wirsching's grandson, Georg, who oversaw scanning, archiving and preserving of this collection of thousands of negatives and prints.

The archives document the changing times in Indian cinema right from the early silent years until the birth of color epitomized in Wirsching's final film 'Pakeezha', Georg said in a statement. He has co-curated the exhibition with Rahaab Allana and Debashree Mukherjee.

The exhibition titled 'A Cinematic Imagination: Josef Wirsching and the Bombay Talkies' was presented at the Serendipity Arts Festival 2017, after more than 70 years.

Again on exhibition as a tribute to one of the forgotten pioneers of Indian cinema, Wirsching, the images foreground the critical role of German technicians and inter-war image-making practices in the history of Indian cinema.

This show is being presented by the Serendipity Arts Foundation, Alkazi Foundation for the Arts and the Josef Wirsching Archives.

"Most people don't realise this, but 95 per cent of the films that were made in India during the early talkies period are considered lost forever.

"Given that we only have five per cent of our film heritage available to view, still photographs such as these become very critical to help us understand the emergence of the global phenomenon that we call 'Bollywood' today," Mukherjee said about the importance of the images.

The rare images spotlight aesthetic decisions, creative communities, and cross-cultural exchanges vital to filmmaking in late colonial India, the organisers said.

The exhibition runs from July 19 to August 4.

The Goethe Institut/Max Muller Bhavan, Chennai, will also be showcasing this at the 'Enchanted Networks: Light of Asia' festival as a somewhat forgotten chapter in the history of German and Indian cinema that commenced almost a hundred years ago. It starts Sunday.



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