Pune: National Film Archive of India (NFAI) on Monday acquired the first talkie version of the 1935 cult movie Devdas, which was till now available only in Bangladesh.
A DVD copy of the P.C. Barua directed movie in Bengali was handed over to NFAI officials by a visiting Bangladeshi delegation, an official statement said.
“The film has been with Bangladesh Film Archive. The recent efforts of National Film Archive of India have helped in bringing the copy of the said film (in DVD format) to the country,” it said.
There was a silent version of Devdas made in 1928, but Barua’s 1935 version was the first talkie of the Devdas series.
NFAI had five versions of Devdas, including four Hindi (1935, 1955, 2002, 2009) and one Telugu (1953).
“This is a landmark moment in the history of the film archive as this was an important film for the Indian heritage and a very important addition to our collection,” said Prakash Magdum, director of NFAI.
The three-member Bangladesh delegation led by Martuza Ahmed, secretary in the ministry of information visited NFAI to study the archive and visit the state-of-the-art film storage facilities here.
The DVD copy of the 1935 Devdas version was given in exchange of a copy of India's first film Raja Harishchandra.
This is an important development as all Indian prints of this Bengali version were destroyed decades ago and currently, there is only one copy of the film available at the Bangladesh Film Archives (BFA).
Mohammad Jahangir Hossain, director-general of BFA, said India was looking for this film for 30 years.
Devdas is based on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s eponymous novel. The Bengali version starred Barua himself as Devdas, Jamuna Barua as Parvati (Paro) and Chandrabati Devi as Chandramukhi. This was Barua’s first of three language versions of the story, the second being in Hindi and the third in Assamese.
Chatterjee was believed to be in his teens when he wrote Devdas in 1901, which was published in 1917.