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Indian film museum project in Mumbai is turning out to be a movie that is not ending

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A panel comprising censor board chief Prasoon Joshi among others submitted an ‘adverse report’ to I&B ministry, that could further delay the project.

New Delhi: The ambitious National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC) seems to have hit a roadblock just weeks before its inauguration, with a panel constituted by the information and broadcasting ministry pointing out several loopholes in it, ThePrint has learnt.

Already delayed by two decades, the first-of-its kind film museum was to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon.

However, an ‘innovation committee’ constituted by previous I&B minister Smriti Irani and comprising Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi, member Vani Tripathi, among other experts, is learnt to have submitted an “adverse report” on the project to the I&B ministry.

This report is expected to further delay the project.

Reached for comment, Director-General of Films Division, Satyendra Prakash, said he was not authorised to speak to the media and directed ThePrint to the information & broadcasting ministry.

The ministry spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

What the committee said

According to ministry sources, the panel pointed out multiple problems in the project after its site visit in February. The museum is located in the newly restored Gulshan Mahal on the Film Division’s premises on Peddar Road in South Mumbai.

The committee is believed to have suggested shifting the museum to the Film City area of Goregaon suburb where the I&B ministry has already acquired 20 acres of land for the proposed National Centre of Excellence for Animation, Gaming and VFX (NCOE).

It argued that Goregaon would have better footfalls than the existing location in South Mumbai, which is congested, the sources said. The ministry is yet to take a call on this suggestion.

The panel also recommended involving multiple experts in curating the museum instead of a single body, giving better representations to regional cinema as well as other aspects of cinema such as lyrics, poetry, and script in the museum.

The committee also pointed out a lack of chronology in the narration in India’s cinematic journey, better display of exhibits with proper explanation and recommended putting up a story board in the museum, sources said.

Earlier committee

The decision to constitute this panel was sudden since the project was earlier being monitored by the Museum Advisory Committee chaired by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal.

Benegal had given a favourable report on the project after his visit to the museum in August last year. He had also expressed hope that the remaining work should be completed within the next three or four months.

The museum houses a rare collection of artifacts, vintage equipment, various memorabilia and other exhibits to take visitors through India’s century-old cinematic journey.

The project was being implemented by the Films Division, a unit under the information and broadcasting ministry.

The Kolkata-based National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous body under the ministry of culture, is responsible for designing the museum.

Around Rs160 crore has already been spent on the project so far.

The museum

First planned in 1997, the project has faced multiple delays in the past two decades. While the restoration of Gulshan Mahal began in 1998, the work was slowed down, only to be revived in 2012.

The museum was to be inaugurated by 2013 to commemorate the centenary of Indian cinema, but was delayed again. Finally, it was almost ready before the committee put forward more suggestions.

According to an official statement issued last year, a portion of the museum will be located in Gulshan Mahal. It will display artifacts in a chronological manner.

Phase II of the museum will be housed in the modern building and will have over 40 interactive galleries devoted to cinema across India, journey of Indian cinema from silent era to talkies, technology and creativity in cinema as well as a children’s activity gallery, the statement said.

In January last year, the Museum Advisory Committee had met in Mumbai and had given its nod for the thematic display in the Phase II of the museum.

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