NFAI gets rare 450 glass slides of early Telugu cinema

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In a major acquisition, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has acquired over 450 glass slides of early Telugu cinema to add to its existing collection, it was announced on Friday.

These slides – made by pressing a film positive between two thin square glasses – were used to publicise new films before release or during intervals in cinemas, NFAI Director Prakash Magdum said.

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“The film positives used to prepare the glass slide were actually miniatures of the film poster or publicity material for newspapers and magazines. They represent the pictorial history of early Telugu cinema from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s and feature lovely frames tracing the gravitas of Telugu films during the early decades of Indian talkie,” he added.

The acquisition includes glass slides from many important films like Y.V. Rao’s trendsetting social drama about widow remarriage “Malli Pelli” (1939), B. N. Reddi’s “Vande Mataram” (1939), starring Chittor V. Nagaiah, the popular swashbuckling hit “Keelu Gurram” (1949), featuring Akkineni Nageshwara Rao and Anjali Devi.

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They also include another hit, the N.T. Rama Rao starrer “‘Daasi” (1952), a critically-acclaimed adaptation of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic Devdas, Vedantam Raghavaiah’s “Devadasu” (1953), starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Savitri and Lalitha in the central roles, plus many more.

All these glass slides are in black and white covering 70 Telugu films from 1939 to 1955, Magdum said.

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“These glass slides give a bird’s eye view of the publicity scenario in the Telugu industry in its formative years. It has a great reference value for film researchers, and we will soon digitize them,” NFAI’s documentation in-charge Arti Karkhanis said.

In 2020, the NFAI acquired some 400 glass slides and now it has over 2,000 such glass slides of Hindi, Gujarati and Telugu films in its collection.

“Glass slides are exquisite records of Indian cinematic heritage. In the wake of fast-changing technologies, having these glass slides in such huge numbers is a rare and significant discovery,” Magdum said.

Magdum has appealed to all film lovers to come forward and deposit film footages, photographs, posters, lobby cards and other such material so that it can be preserved at the NFAI.

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