G Aravindan's 'Kummatty' to be restored by Martin Scorsese’s project

The 1979 classic Malayalam film Kummatty made by late G Aravindan will be restored by a collaboration of three associations — The Film Foundation (TFF)’s World Cinema Project created by renowned American director Martin Scorsese, the Film Heritage Foundation in India and the Cineteca di Bologna film archive in Italy.

The film will be restored at the L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in Bologna, Italy and will have its world restoration premiere at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in late July.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Shivendra Singh Dungarpur once again to preserve and restore director G Aravindan’s extraordinary film, Kummatty,” said TFF founder and chair Martin Scorsese.

“Aravindan was a visionary director and ‘Kummatty’ is considered among his greatest work. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project will share this film with the wider audience it deserves, making it a true cinematic discovery. Thanks to Olivia Harrison and her Material World Foundation for making this restoration possible," he added.

Regarding the same, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, director of the Film Heritage Foundation in a press statement, “Ever since I first worked with The Film Foundation on the restoration of Uday Shankar’s ‘Kalpana’ (1948) in 2012, I have seen how beautifully and respectfully they have been restoring films from around the world and giving these films a new life.”

“Every time I watch a beautifully restored film, I think of so many landmark films of Indian cinema that are crying out to be preserved, restored and showcased in their original beauty once again to the public to be appreciated. Aravindan’s films have been on the top of the list not just because he is a master, but one who I feel has not gotten the recognition he deserves and whose films sadly are not in circulation. It broke my heart when I learned that all the original camera negatives of his films are lost and all we have are prints, not in the best condition.”

“I was delighted when The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project agreed to restore ‘Kummatty.’ I travelled to Kollam in Kerala to meet K Ravindranathan Nair of General Pictures, the producer of five of Aravindan’s films including ‘Kummatty.’ He very graciously agreed to give permission for the restoration and for us to access the prints from the NFAI. The NFAI gave us both prints for the lab to check the elements. Fortunately, one of the prints did not contain subtitles,” he added.

The TFF was founded in 1990 by Scorcese, with the aim of protecting and preserving motion picture history. The Film Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit organisation set up by filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur in 2014.

Kummatty, the film, tells the story of a Pied Piper-like character from Malabar folklore. The character materialises one day to cast a spell that converts children to animals. One unlucky child misses the reverse conversion and remains a dog for a year. The film won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Children's Film in 1979.

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