Aravindan’s 1979 classic ‘Kummatty’ to be restored by Martin Scorsese’s project

Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation, the Film Heritage Foundation in India and Cineteca di Bologna, a film archive in Italy, are collaborating to restore the film.
Still from Kummatty
Still from Kummatty
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Kummatty, a classic Malayalam film made by late G Aravindan in 1979, will be restored by a collaboration of three associations — The Film Foundation (TFF)’s World Cinema Project created by renowned American director Martin Scorsese, the Film Heritage Foundation in India and the Cineteca di Bologna film archive in Italy. The film will be restored at a lab in Bologna, Italy and will premiere late July at the Cinema Ritrovato festival.

The TFF was founded in 1990 by Scorcese, with the aim of protecting and preserving motion picture history. The Film Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit organisation set up by filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur in 2014. It works for the conservation, preservation and restoration of films. “I’m thrilled to be working with Shivendra Singh Dungarpur once again to preserve and restore director G Aravindan’s extraordinary film, Kummatty,” said TFF Founder and Chair Martin Scorsese.

“Aravindan was a visionary director and Kummatty is considered among his greatest works. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project will share this film with the wider audience it deserves, making it a true cinematic discovery. Thanks to Olivia Harrison and her Material World Foundation for making this restoration possible," Scorsese added.

G Aravindan

Shivendra Singh said that he was delighted that the TTF's World Cinema Project agreed to restore Kummatty. "I travelled to Kollam in Kerala to meet Mr K Ravindranathan Nair of General Pictures, the producer of five of Aravindan’s films including Kummatty. He very graciously agreed to give permission for the restoration and for us to access the prints from the NFAI (National Film Archive of India). The NFAI gave us both prints for the lab to check the elements. Fortunately, one of the prints was unsubtitled," Shivendra said.

The two surviving 35mm prints were found to be worn out, dirty and deeply scratched. One of them had a vertical green line on one side and required painstaking manual work to be removed. Cecilia Cenciarelli of Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna said that the film's natural environment, “lit by master cinematographer Shaji N Karun”, had lost its “rich palette of skies, grass, foliage and fields to a homogenous magenta”. "Thanks to Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, L'Immagine Ritrovata was able to connect with Ramu Aravindan (son of G Aravindan) and Shaji N Karun which helped recapture, as much as possible, the original aesthetics as well as magical dimensions of the film," she said.

Kummatty, the film, tells the story of a Pied Piper-like character from Malabar folklore. The character materialises one day to cast a spell that converts children to animals. One unlucky child misses the reverse conversion and remains a dog for a year. The film won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Children's Film in 1979.

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