A rare visual biography of Mahatma Gandhi, covering important speeches by him and his visits from 1935 to 1947, lying in the dusty, crumbling Central Film Library in Ajmer will soon be screened for the general public at the majestic 447-year-old hall at Akbar Fort in Ajmer. And not just that about 4,200 other such reels of archival footage, some dating back to 1930s and spanning the history of Independence and later, on diverse subjects, will also be screened.
The screenings have become possible with the library getting a new address - the two-storied soldiers' barrack at the outer side of the Akbar Fort. The arena was used as a housing facility for personal guards of emperors.
Subject to dire neglect for so long and functioning from a dilapidated government building declared unfit since 2007, many of these invaluable reels have been subjected to irreparable loss. Several reels have never been screened, even internally.
Some of the rare visuals to look out for include one of field marshal Sam Manekshaw speaking to soldiers on their return to Delhi after defeating the Pakistani forces. There is another footage of the first test match between India and England captured live on camera and a rare heart surgery.
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The decision to shift the library to Akbar Fort was taken by the education department. "The decision was taken keeping in mind the central location of the fort and its accessibility to the masses. The original site of the library was in a narrow lane and difficult to access. Here even educational films can be screened for students and general public," said education minister Vasudev Devnani.
Renovation of the barracks has already been started by the local administration.
Jafarullah Khan, circle superintendent, Ajmer Circle, Archaeology Survey and Museums Department, said, "Efforts are being made to retain the old structure and to make it fit for the library."
The miserable condition of the film library came to fore after chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced Rs 2 crore for its modernization and maintenance in the last budget.