P K Nair, the founder director of the National Film Archive of India, will be honored with Satyajit Ray Memorial Award today. Instituted in 2006, the award is given every year by the Asian Film Foundation to an individual for his / her outstanding contribution in disseminating film culture in the country.
Award is named after the great master, Satyajit Ray, who was also the founder of the federation of film societies of India along with Chidanand Dasgupta and Vijaya Mule.
First year the award was given to Professor Satish Bahadur, followed by Aruna Vasudev, the founder of Cinemaya, the Asian cinema quarterly and Cinefan festival (now Osian’s cinefan) last year.
Beginning his journey as the assistant curator of the Archive in 1965, Mr. Nair himself traveled, the length and breath of the country to acquire film prints which are now an inseparable part of our film history. His passion and perseverance, took him everywhere from Chor Bazar to decadent and defunct studios to film labs abroad in search of our national treasure. We the film-lovers, owe to him for having seen glimpses of not only the early films of Indian cinema but also the masters from all over the world.
Mr. Nair, took upon himself the task of not only building an archive but creating a centre for excellence that opened new vistas to the world of cinema. He collected the timeless films of masters such as De Sica, Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman.
Mr. Nair, a seasoned archivist of impeccable abilities, didn’t only believe in collecting films but he made them available to film-lovers to experience them. During his tenure, film archive became the capital of film culture in the country. He took film appreciation courses beyond the boundaries of academic institutions and started holding workshops at film societies across India. Annual film appreciation course organized by NFAI, has helped a generation of film critics in the country to understand cinema better.
Mr. Nair’s initiative of setting up film circulation library helped film-lovers in every part of the country to experience cinema in all its glory. Film prints traveled from Pune to every part of the country be it Kerala or Kolkata, Jamshedpur or Bhubaneshwar, giving many of us the very first glimpses of the masters of world cinema. No wonder, every single individual who has been a film society member knows Mr. Nair and shares deepest respect for him.
NFAI that started with a mere 124 films, grew into a veritable treasure of 12,000 films, all handpicked by Mr. Nair by the time he retired in 1991.
Rightly called Henry Langlois of India, Mr. Nair still actively pursues his life long passion of cinema. Neither his age nor fading health, deter him to contribute actively in setting up Museum of Moving Images (MOMI) in Mumbai, a project of the government of India.
DearCinema.com congratulates Mr. Nair, who is very much a part of our humble endeavor.