Pune: National Film Archives of India (NFAI) acquired around 1,000 rare photographs related to Marathi Cinema clicked by veteran photographer SM Ajrekar. The photographs were donated to NFAI by Ajrekar’s daughter Shambhavi Bal.
SM Ajrekar worked as a photographer in Pune for Navyug and Prabhat Film Company. Prakash Magdum, Director of NFAI, termed the collection as extraordinary given the quality of photographs and said, “It is an invaluable addition to NFAI’s ever-growing collection of the Indian cinematic heritage. The photographs are from the 1940s and 50s, the period termed as the golden age of Marathi Cinema. Out of the 1,000 photographs, NFAI has successfully identified around 500, and will be taking help from film researchers and experts in order to identify the rest.”
Most of the photographs are printed with matte finish and showcase Ajrekar’s skill in playing with light and shade. All of the photographs have been preserved without any damage. Shambhavi Bal, speaking of her father, stated, “My father was determined as an artist and passionately and sincerely worked on every aspect of the job. He also made it a point to nurture and preserve his work with utmost care, as if it were his own child.” Bal also revealed that her father liked to experiment with lighting and photography, which is quite evident from his works.
Active between 1942 and 1956, Ajrekar worked as a still photographer on several films.
His major films include Jaga Bhadyane Dene Aahe (1949), Var Pahije (1950), Sharada (1951), Narveer Tanaji (1952), Een Meen Sadeteen (1954) and Teen Mule (1954).
The photographs submitted to NFAI include those of many celebrities from the then Marathi film industry, like Sulochana, Raja Paranjape, Mai Bhide, Rajan, Sumati Gogte and many more.