Satyajit Ray’s rare documentary Sikkim now in markets

‘After having dogged controversies ever since it was made four decades ago, Satyajit Ray’s rare documentary Sikkim has been released today in the CD format.

The 52-minute documentary, commissioned in 1971 by the last Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, was banned after a few scenes went against the liking of the rulers.

When the Himalayan kingdom merged with India in 1975, the Indian government also banned it. Two years ago, the ministry of external affairs lifted the ban on the film.

Since then, Sikkim has been shown only to restricted audiences at film festivals, including the 2010 Kolkata Film Festival.’

‘”We do not know why the film was banned for so long But it is not a political film and has no propaganda. It is about the flora, fauna, the natural beauty and diversity of the Himalayan kingdom,” Ray’s son Sandip said.

After releasing the DVD and VCD release of Sikkim, he said that the original negative of the film is lost.

A damaged print of the film was restored by the Gangtok-based Art and Culture Trust (ACT) of Sikkim in 2002 with support of The Academy of Motion Pictures, Art and Science in California.

“I remember that the original film had excellent colours. But unfortunately now it is lost. However, the present CD version is viewable,” Sandip Ray said.’

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