Noted film archivist P K Nair dies; film fraternity mourns

Renowned film archivist Paramesh Krishnan Nair passed away at a private hospital in Pune following a cardiac arrest on Friday morning, March 4. He was 82. Nair was being treated for a critical condition in the Sahyadri Hospital for over a week. His last rites will be conducted on Saturday.

Nair, the founder and former director of the Pune-based National Film Archive of India, dedicated his life to preservation of films and building its collection. He was instrumental in archiving several landmark Indian cinemas including Dadasaheb Phalke's ‘Raja Harishchandra’ and ‘Kaliya Mardan’, Bombay Talkies' films such as ‘Jeevan Naiya’, ‘Bandhan’ and ‘Achhut Kanya’, S S Vasan's ‘Chandralekha’ and Uday Shankar's ‘Kalpana’ among the significant.

He also preserved the works of legendary filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, V Shantaram, and by the time he retired as NFAI director, he had acquired a whopping 12,000 films for the archive. Of these, 8,000 were Indian films and the rest foreign films by a variety of international stalwarts such as Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Krzysztof Zanussi and Vittorio De.

Indian film fraternity members have mourned the demise of the ‘beloved son of cinema’. Filmmaker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, who immortalised the life and work of Nair in his 2012 documentary ‘Celluloid Man’, has termed his demise as “the end of a great chapter.”

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my mentor PK Nair who taught me to love and live for cinema," Dungarpur tweeted.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta, who had an audience member in Nair for his movie 'Aligarh' at a film festival in Mumbai, tweeted, "RIP PK Nair, celluloid man and inspiration. Privileged that he made the long trip to Regal and watched 'Aligarh' at MAMI. Salute."

Actress Shilpa Shukla of ‘Chak De! India’ and ‘B A Pass’ fame, referred to a bout of unexpected showers in Mumbai on Friday morning and posted, "No wonder the thunder - Rest in peace beloved son of cinema who never abandoned her. Shri PK Nair, regards and prayers."

Reknowned film critic Anupama Chopra said that Nair had "single-handedly preserved India's cinematic heritage." "We all owe you. Salute and thanks for the education and inspiration," she added.

Filmmaker Sangeeth Sivan tweeted, "His passion for cinema was unparalleled and so is his pioneering work. RIP" “If at all Indian Cinema has an history today it is thanks to the efforts of this man.”