A rare short film made on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1968 has been acquired by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI). The film in Marathi titled ‘Mahapurush Dr Ambedkar’ was produced by the Director of Publicity, Government of Maharashtra in July 1968.
Directed by Namdeo Vatkar under the banner of Vathkar Productions, the music for the 18-minute short film was composed by renowned composer Datta Davajekar. Veteran film artist David Abraham was the narrator for the film. Namdeo Vatkar was a veteran actor and director in the Marathi film industry who wrote and directed films like Aaher featuring Sulochana in 1957 and Mulga featuring Hansa Wadkar in 1956. He also wrote the story of Ram Gabale film Ghardhani along with PL Deshpande in 1952.
“It is a very timely discovery of the film on Dr BR Ambedkar when we are celebrating 130th birth anniversary of the key architect of the Indian Constitution on 14th April. The short film fictionalises the key events of Dr Ambedkar’s life and it also has live footage of his later years,” said Prakash Magdum, Director, NFAI.
The film has the visuals of Dr Ambedkar embracing the Buddhist religion and his visit to Nepal along with close-up shots of his funeral procession at Dadar Chowpaty in Mumbai. Madhukar Khamkar did the cinematography while GG Patil edited the film.
“The film was originally made in 35 mm format but what we have found is a 16 mm copy probably meant for distribution in rural areas. The condition of the film is moderate and we plan to digitise it soon so that it can be accessed by people,” said Prakash Magdum.
He added, “We appeal to individual collectors and distributors along with others to come forward and submit films or footages at NFAI so that it can be preserved.