Recently, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has decided to close all regional and national offices of FD (Film Division), National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) and Children’s Film Society, and National Film Archives of India (CFSI) and bring them under the National Film Development Corporation (NDFC). This is based on the recommendation of Bimal Julka Committee. The NFDC is a public sector undertaking established in 1975 to promote filmmakers outside the mainstream film industries of India.
- Better coordination: The merger of Film Media Units under one corporation will lead to convergence of activities and resources and better coordination, thereby ensuring synergy and efficiency in achieving the mandate of each media unit.
- Financial ease: It will also provide reduction in repetition of activities and direct savings to the exchequer. The NFDC is expected to turn around its finances once the merger takes place.
- Such an umbrella academy would help retain the cultural ethos of a nation under a single authority. The only state that has a central Chalachitra Academy is Kerala, which effectively and efficiently manages all film-related activities under the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy.
- The new entity will be to ensure balanced development of Indian cinema across genres, including feature films, content for the OTT platforms, children’s content, animation, short films and documentaries.
- The four public-funded bodies are being merged with a loss-making corporation.
- There is no concrete plan on how the transfer of archives will be carried out as celluloid is fragile and inflammable material.
- There may be a case of disinvestment if NFDC will not generate profit. In that case if our archives do not remain autonomous public institutions, they will undoubtedly be tampered with, damaged, or destroyed forever.
- In comparison to NFDC, Films Division is much richer in assets and manpower hence, NFDC and other media units should have been merged with Films Division, as was done in the case of banks where non-performing banks were merged with bigger banks.
India is the largest producer of movies globally with an industry that is led by the private sector and produces more than 3000 films in a year. This decision is a measure to fulfil the promise of supporting the film sector. We need to understand that preserving our film heritage is a matter of national interest. Therefore, the government should declare our archives as national heritage as they belong to the people of India and must be protected.