NFAI acquires personal collection of renowned Manipuri dancer Savita Ben Mehta

A substantial collection of home movies of renowned Manipuri dancer, Savita Ben Mehta is now part of the National Film Archive of India. The collection is in 8mm and super 8mm, a film format that is used to shoot private movies known as ‘home movies’.

NFAI is adding this personal collection of Kodachrome and Kodachrome II home movies of the celebrated artist for preservation, as these footages can be important social documentation. Kodachrome & Kodachrome II were introduced in 1935 and 1961 respectively, specifically meant for amateur use, with the latter being superior to ‘regular Kodachrome’.

Manipuri classical dance depicts the amorous relationship between Lord Krishna and Radha, characterized by its use of graceful costumes, expressive and delicate postures.

A peerless exponent of the Manipuri style of dancing, Savita Ben Mehta popularized it globally. She had the highest qualifications and honors in Manipuri dancing. Interestingly she was born in Gujarat, educated in the Arya Kanya Vidyalaya of Baroda, and also made a remarkable contribution in the field of ballet as the Director & Choreographer.

“I am happy to receive such a significant collection of 8mm films, which itself is a rare addition to NFAI. It is widely understood that 8mm & super 8mm movies were prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s. This collection might have footage of her dance performances along with footage shot in North-East India. We would be digitizing these soon. I am thankful to the family of industrialist Mr. Jay Mehta, who is nephew of Savita Ben Mehta”, said Prakash Magdum, Director, NFAI. Mehta was proficient in many languages and the footages have her handwriting in the Meitei (of Manipur) language.

This donation was facilitated by noted art curators Deepthi Sasidharan (Director, Eka Archiving Services) & Ms. Rachel Noronha.

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