Skip to main content

Amita Malik and Lost Archives

Amita Malik “the first lady of Indian media" was born in Guwahati to Bengali family in 1921, she joined the All India Radio as a casual staff in Lucknow in 1944 and moved to Delhi as a permanent employee in 1946.

She passed away on 22 February, 2009 at the age of 87. It was passing of an era.

For six decades, at one time or another she wrote about Cinema for The Statesman, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express and more recently, Pioneer and Tribune.
And for television: 

She worked with stalwarts like Melville de Mellow and A.S. Bokhari and interviewed people such as Satyajit Ray, Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, John Masters, David Niven and Alfred Hitchcock. Malik’s work in both AIR and Doordarshan comprise important chapters in the history of Indian broadcasting. Sadly, many of these are now missing. Typically, Doordarshan managed to erase the recording of Amita’s joint interview with Satyajit Ray and Marlon Brando and her interview with the ‘father of the documentary’ John Grierson, who founded the National Film Board of Canada. A similar fate met the 1975 roundtable discussion she had with Elia Kazan, Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray and Michelangelo Antonioni. This ‘lost archive’ would have been a treasure anywhere in the world.
[- Hindustan Times Story on Amita Malik ]

Amita Malik brought up the subject of loss these precious archives into public after the death of Marlon Brando in 2004. In a piece for The Tribune (dated July 10, 2004) she wrote:
 When I heard of the death of Marlon Brando, my mind went back to the priceless conversation I had anchored between Satyajit Ray and Marlon Brando in 1967, when Brando came to Delhi as ambassador for UNICEF. Doordarshan was the only TV channel at the time, and after re-telecasting it a few times, it just lost the tape. They could not tell if they had erased or lost it. Appeals to several I &B Ministers and those under them led nowhere. That classic conversation between two giants of the cinema was lost forever. The same is the fate of a panel discussion I anchored with Kurosawa, Ray, Antonioni and Elia Kazan. The BBC had originally asked for it, but being patriotic, I gave preference to DD and paid for it. That classic too is lost forever.

Only if she had been a bit unpatriotic, maybe..what a loss!

  • Amita Malik
Caps from the lost archive -
  • Amita Malik in1975 round table discussion with Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni and Elia Kazan.
  • Satyajit Ray and Marlon Brando with Amita Malik in 1967
 The images are from Amita Malik's autobiography 'Amita, No Holds Barred' [ HarperCollins, Rs 295]. A treasure in itself!
 [An extract from the book at Outlook|: she recalls an incident, during Indira Gandhi times in which she crossed swords on subject of caste with famous Mark Tully of BBC ]


For one thing, things like these may never be lost thanks to the 'free culture' of today.

Anyway, Doordarshan is now trying to make up and is digitalizing its huge archives [HT Story]. Some of these archived programs, mostly on classical music, can now be seen  late night on DD Bharati channel. Or watch those rare NFDC films on Lok Sabha TV channel.



Popular posts from this blog

Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment. [ Update 1 : Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry ] [ Update 2 : Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.] [ Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makers   of     “The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan ” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of  Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]  Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.” Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met… While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cig

Woman by Arun Kolatkar

a woman may collect cats read thrillers her insomnia may seep through the great walls of history a lizard may paralyze her a sewing machine may bend her moonlight may intercept the bangle circling her wrist a woman my name her cats the circulating library may lend her new thrillers a spiked man may impale her a woman may add a new recipe to her scrapbook judiciously distilling her whimper the city lights may declare it null and void in a prodigious weather above a darkling woman surgeons may shoot up and explode in a weather fraught with forceps woman may damn man a woman may shave her legs regularly a woman may take up landscape painting a woman may poison twenty three cockroaches - a poem by Arun Kolatkar from year 1967. Translated by Adil Jussawalla. Found it in New Writing in India (1974) ed. by Adil Jussawalla.