The legendary Guru Dutt’s immortal classic Pyaasa is the only Indian movie restored by an Indian company that will premiere in the competition sector of the upcoming 72nd Venice Film Festival, a top official said on Wednesday.
A team of 45 experts of Ultra Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd worked round-the-clock for over four months to restore the movie to its original quality and make it ready for a global audience.
Pyaasa will now compete with 20 other restored classic movies from all over the world for the prestigious ‘Venice Classics Award’ for Best Restored Film, said Ultra Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’ CEO Sushilkumar Agrawal.
The 1957 black-and-white cult movie, starring Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman and Mala Sinha, with Rehman, Johny Walker, Mehmood and Tun Tun, will be screened on September 11 and 12 at the Sala Volpi Auditorium in Venice, during the festival scheduled between Sep. 02-12.
“Ultra Media & Entertainment, who are the negative rights owners of ‘Pyaasaa‘, have restored this film completely for the grand occasion with an objective of preserving and presenting it in its original quality to the global audience. It is one of the rarest gems of Indian cinema,” Agrawal told IANS.
The most challenging part after acquiring the rights was sourcing the authentic material to complete the preservation. After lot of efforts, the company managed to recover the original camera negatives of “Pyaasa” at an archive in India, but many parts in it were either damaged or lost, he explained.
Undeterred, the company used as many parts as possible from the original Camera Negative and a few parts were used from 35mm prints.
A new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on the ARRISCAN film scanner, an in-house technology of the company which helped in applying a multidisciplinary, data-centric approach to the entire film’s restoration process.
Once the complete film was digitally transferred, came the most challenging part of restoration in which thousands of instances of dirt, lines, scratches, splices, warps, jitters and green patches were manually removed frame by frame.
The in-house talented professionals used a specialized film content mending and defect removal mechanism in their repair process, carefully selecting the best way to restore the priceless classic to its original quality.
Out of the many classics restored by the company, “Pyaasa” always had pride of special place and the restored version has already created a significant buzz with distribution enquiries pouring in from all over the world, Agrawal added.
Bouyed by this, the company is planning a major theatrical re-release of “Pyaasa” after the competitive screening in Venice next month.
Besides the two screenings at the festival venue, Ultra Media & Entertainment plans to promote and market it during the fest, and expects a huge demand from international distributors, sales agents, ancillary content aggregators and exhibitors for the restored version.
Produced and directed by the late Guru Dutt, “Pyaasa” is a beautiful lament of an unemployed young man who tried to carve a niche for himself as a poet in society after he is disowned by his family, but encounters rejection at every step.
Penned by Abrar Alvi and cinematographed by the veteran V. K. Murthy, the movie has music by S. D. Burman, lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and several masterpieces rendered by Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar.
Some of its haunting numbers include: “Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai,’ “Jaane kya tune kahi” and “Jaane wo kaise log the…‘
Besides “Pyaasa“, the company has restored other classics like “Dil Tera Deewana“, “Chori Chori“, “Half Ticket“, “Paigham” and “Insaniyat“.