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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 05:34 GMT 06:34 UK
Bollywood classics go colour
By Arun Asthana in Bombay

Poster for Naya Daur, starring Dilip Kumar (R)
Naya Daur, starring Dilip Kumar (R), is the first to be treated
If you are pining to watch a classic black-and-white Bollywood film, they may soon be returning to cinemas - but in glorious colour.

Producers in the western Indian city of Bombay (also known as Mumbai), the hub of the country's movie industry, are busy "colouring" old black-and-white films to woo a new generation of cinema goers.

The first classics to get a coat of colour are the 1957 biopic Naya Daur (New Era) and the blockbuster 1960 historical drama Mughal-e-Azam, both starring Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar.

Naya Daur
Ek Hi Raasta
Dhool Ka Phool

"New age filmgoers are not too keen on watching black-and-white films," says producer Ravi Chopra, whose production house BR Films is working on Naya Daur.

"By colouring these films, we are only seeking to widen the audience base."

He clarifies that the original black-and-white negatives of the film will be left untouched.

Bollywood songs

Mughal-e-Azam, one of Bollywood's biggest hits ever, is receiving more than a generous touch of colour.

Bombay-based production house Sterling, which owns the film, is digitising the sound and re-recording the music of the film.

Mughal-e-Azam poster
Mughal-e-Azam will also get a digitised sound re-recording

Two music directors, including the 85-year-old music maestro Naushad, have been brought in to rework and clean up original songs with new generation technology.

But producers are not stopping their efforts at making classics popular with today's audiences with these two films alone.

Ravi Chopra has hired a Florida-based company to colour six other titles from his vaults.

"If these classics are not revived in a new format, a large section of today's audience will remain deprived of the opportunity to appreciate them," he says.

The colour version of Naya Daur is expected to arrive at the cinemas next January, followed by Mughal-e-Azam.

Vikas Mohan, editor of a Bollywood trade magazine, says colouring old classics is a "new business proposition for Bollywood".

Others say that producers are dusting off the classics and readying them for colour releases after the success of many remixed old Bollywood songs.

Bollywood is one of the world's largest movie industries, producing nearly 1,000 films a year.

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