Film Heritage Foundation’s Restoration Of Shyam Benegal’s Manthan Premiere At Cannes

Film Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by filmmaker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur has joined hands with Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. to restore veteran Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal’s national award-winning film ‘Manthan’ that starred the late iconic film actress, Smita Patil.

As Amul marks its golden jubilee this year, the 4K restoration of the 1976 film has been selected for the official red-carpet world premiere at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in May 2024. Noteworthily, ‘Mathan’ is the only Indian film to be selected under the Cannes Classic section of the festival this year. Presenting at Cannes Film Festival for the third time in a row, Film Heritage Foundation has previously premiered ‘Thamp̄’ (2022) and ‘Ishanou’ (2023) at the prestigious film festival.

‘Manthan’, a fictionalized version of the beginnings of the extraordinary dairy cooperative movement that transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the world’s largest milk producer inspired by Dr. Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution, is also India’s first crowd sourced film produced by 5,00,000 dairy farmers who contributed INR 2/- each towards the production of the film.

The film premiere will be attended by Naseeruddin Shah, the family of the late Smita Patil, the producers of the film and Film Heritage Foundation’s Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Director, Film Heritage Foundation states, “I am so delighted that Film Heritage Foundation will have a red-carpet world premiere of another one of our restorations of an Indian cult classic at the Cannes Film Festival. The restoration of a Shyam Benegal film has been on Film Heritage Foundation’s wish list for years as he is one of India’s most venerated filmmakers whose early films were iconic in India’s Parallel Cinema movement. The restoration process has been an incredible experience, especially working so closely with Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani to painstakingly bring the film back to life. Almost half a century later, the power of the narrative and the compelling performances of the actors, especially Smita Patil, remains undiminished. I wish she was here to see the beauty of the restoration.”

Shyam Benegal states, “I was absolutely delighted when Shivendra told me that Film Heritage Foundation was going to restore “Manthan” in collaboration with the Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. Manthan is a film that is very close to my heart as it was funded by 500,000 farmers and was instrumental in the growth of an extraordinary cooperative movement that was aimed at breaking the shackles of economic inequality and caste discrimination whilst empowering the farmers. It will remind the world of the power of cinema as a vehicle of change and also the legacy of the great Verghese Kurien, the Father of the White Revolution. Govind Nihalani and I have been following the progress of the restoration closely and I am amazed by the meticulous approach to the restoration. It is wonderful to see the film come back to life almost like we made it yesterday. Film Heritage Foundation has been doing remarkable work in film restoration. Not only are they beautifully restoring films from every region of India, but bringing them back to the public at festivals and screenings around the world in a way that showcases our unique film heritage to contemporary global audiences.”

Naseeruddin Shah states, “I started my career as an actor with ‘Nishant’ followed by ‘Manthan’, both directed by Shyam Benegal. ‘Manthan’ was a runaway success when it was released almost 50 years ago and it is a film that is remembered even today. I remember that during the shooting of 'Manthan,' I lived in the hut, learnt to make cow dung cakes and milk a buffalo. I would carry the buckets and serve the milk to the unit to get the physicality of the character. I am so glad that the Film Heritage Foundation has restored this remarkable film and that this small film made with the support of the farmers has been restored with so much love and care. It is thanks to the persistence, hard work and efforts of Film Heritage Foundation that the film will be premiered in its second life, as it deserves to be, at the Cannes Film Festival and I am so glad that I will be there to present it myself.”

Govind Nihalani states, “It is remarkable that Film Heritage Foundation is restoring ‘Manthan’ nearly fifty years since it was made. Being involved in the restoration has been an emotional experience. It has taken me back to 1976 when the entire unit lived like a family in the village of Sanganva in Gujarat for 45 days during which the film was shot. The shooting was challenging because we had to use a patchwork of different film stock– Eastman and Gevacolor besides Kodak, 35 mm for the film and 16 mm for the film within the film. I began my career as a cinematographer with Shyam Benegal first shooting ad films and then his early feature films. We’ve had an immensely creatively satisfying relationship over the years as Shyam involves you as a partner in the creative process of the film and not just as a cameraman. I am so happy to hear that the restoration of the film will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year.”


Film Heritage Foundation used the best surviving elements for the restoration – the original 35 mm original camera negative and the 35 mm release print preserved at the NFDC – NFAI. Unfortunately, the sound negative was not available. The sound was digitized from the 35 mm release print preserved at Film Heritage Foundation. The film elements were repaired by the Film Heritage Foundation conservators and the scanning was done in Prasad Lab in Chennai. They found that due to the deterioration of the print there were vertical green lines on many parts of the film. While the scanning and digital clean-up was done at Prasad under the supervision of L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, the grading, sound restoration and mastering was done at the lab in Bologna. Both Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, the cinematographer of the film, have been involved in the restoration of the film.


Restored by Film Heritage Foundation at Prasad Corporation Pvt. Ltd.’s Post – Studios, Chennai and L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, in association with Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., the cinematographer Govind Nihalani and the director Shyam Benegal. Funding supported by Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.


Manthan (The Churning), India, 1976, Shyam Benegal

134 mins, Colour, Hindi, English Subtitles, Aspect Ratio 1.37:1

Direction: Shyam Benegal, Story idea by: V. Kurien and Shyam Benegal, Screenplay: Vijay Tendulkar, Dialogue: Kaifi Azmi, Cinematographer: Govind Nihalani, Editor: Bhanudas Diwkar, Sound: Hitendra Ghosh, Music: Vanraj Bhatia, Production Control: G. B. Ghanekar, Producer: Shyam Benegal/Sahyadri Films for Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. Cast: Girish Karnad, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Anant Nag, Amrish Puri, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Mohan Agashe, Sadhu Meher, Rajendra Jaspal, Abha Dhulia, Anjali Paigankar and the people of Sanganva

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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