“Nidhanaya” (treasure) the Masterpiece Movie by Lester James Peries to be Restored by Cineteca Bologna in Italy

The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) and New York-based World Cinema Foundation (WCF), have decided to restore the film Nidhanaya, a Sri Lankan masterpiece.


Nidhanaya is a 1972 Sinhalese language film directed by Lester James Peries, starring Gamini Fonseka and Malini Fonseka. The movie is based on a story written by G.B. Senanayake in one of his short story collection known as ‘The Revenge.’

The film would have been lost forever to the world, but for the NFAI, the Pune-based institute’s Director, Prashant Pathrabe, said. There is no film element available of this title in the whole world, neither with the producer, the right holder nor with the director in Sri Lanka, he said. The only surviving film element was the dupe negative that had been preserved at the NFAI.

The NFAI had preserved it for over three decades and provided it to the WCF for frame by frame restoration. WCF is making a digitally restored print, he said.

The National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka, and the copyright holder, G. R. Padmaraj, readily agreed to the restoration of this milestone of the Sri Lankan film industry, and the WCF Chairman and noted film maker, Martin Scorcese, fully supported the restoration project, he said.

The restoration of the film will be done at Cineteca Bologna in Italy, Pathrabe said.

The NFAI had earlier collaborated with the WCF for the restoration project of the Indian classic film Kalpana by the late Uday Shankar, and the restored version was screened at the last edition of the Cannes Film festival.

The story of Nidhanaya revolves around a superstition to gain access to a hidden treasure, which leads to a gruesome murder, the futile hunt for the treasure and the suicide of the murderer.

The film had won the Silver Lion of St. Mark Award at the 1972 Venice International Film Festival. It was also selected as one of the outstanding films of the year at the London Film Festival, receiving a diploma. It has been declared as the best film of the first 50 years of Sri Lankan cinema.

NFAI and WCF propose to showcase the restored print of Nidhanaya at the Venice International Film Festival in August, Pathrabe said.

The NFAI was established in 1964 under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting with the main objective of preserving the film heritage of Indian cinema for posterity.

The WCF is a worldwide, not-for-profit foundation headed by Scorsese, world-renowned filmmaker. It aims to encourage preservation and restoration of old and deteriorating film classics with a focus on developing countries.