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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 13:02 GMT
Classic Indian films lost in blaze
Film poster of Manoos
The classic Manoos (Man) was stored at the institute

More than 1,000 original prints of old Indian movies - some the only copies - have been destroyed in a fire at the Film and Television Institute of India.

The films were destroyed when a cold storage vault caught fire on Wednesday at the institute in Pune, 180 kilometres east of Mumbai, also known as Bombay.

It is definitely a huge loss... We have reprints of some of these films, but not all

Institute director Prem Mathiyani
Most of the original film prints dated back to the classic era of the 1930s and '40s and belonged to the National Film Archives of India.

Initial reports suggest an air-conditioning defect caused the blaze.

Pioneering studios

According to the institute's director, Prem Mathiyani, all the original prints were on nitrate, an inflammable chemical used for preserving films in the 1950s.

Mr Mathiyani said: ''It is definitely a huge loss, but we are yet to ascertain the exact damage. We have reprints of some of these films, but not all.''

The prints lost included the work of some of Bollywood's pioneering studios such as Prabhat.

Old cinema classics such as Manoos (Man) and Shejari (Neighbour) were stored at the institute.

The original print of Bollywood classic, Raja Harishchandra, was also stored there and it is still not clear whether the film survived.

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