March 20, 2019

Assamese Film ‘Kaaneen - A Secret Search’ to Release in March 22nd

Following the footsteps of his famous uncle Jahnu Barua, who has laid a solid foundation upon which Assamese cinema could grow and flourish, Monjul Baruah is now recognised as one of the most engaging filmmaking talents to have emerged in the State. His first feature film ‘Antareen’ (2016) - a women-centric, dark psychological story by noted writer Dr Rita Choudhury, impressed critics and audiences alike. Monjul Baruah joined a growing list of new wave filmmakers who are simultaneously expressing and developing their own cinematic vocabulary. The film, cited for its sensitivity and powerful storyline, was adjudged the Best Feature Film award at the 3rd Indian Cine Film Festival in Mumbai in 2015. 

Monjul is now back with his second film ‘Kaaneen - A Secret Search’, revolving around human relationships and the issues of social justice, focusing yet again on a strong female protagonist. The interest in the movie was overwhelming, and it did not take too long for the critics to take note of this film at the festival circuit where it has garnered plaudits. ‘Kaaneen’, which is also based on a novel by Dr Rita Choudhury, has recently bagged a major award, winning the Second Best Feature Film award of the North East at the 2nd Guwahati International Film Festival 2018. The film certainly proved that Monjul is doing more than simply carrying on a family tradition. 

My first film ‘Antareen’ was also based on Dr Rita Choudhury’s novel and it gained popularity among the masses,” Monjul said. It was quite a challenge to turn a piece of literature into a visual presentation. “I always have a feeling of fear if I can do full justice to her writings, in a film,” he adds.

An Assamese word, Kaaneen stands for the children born out of wedlock. The story is about the deep-seated guilt experienced by the wife of a high-profile police officer following an encounter with an abandoned infant, which triggers off a series of happenings, compelling the woman to obsessively track down her own abandoned child, born out of premarital momentary passion. But her efforts to bring him back to her life hit the high glass wall that divides them.

The film’s screenplay has been penned by director Monjul Baruah himself. The key roles in the film have been essayed by Baharul Islam, Dr. Jahanara Begum, Purnima Saikia, Partha Hazarika, Kasvi Sarma, Rahul Gautam Sarma, Dhananjay Debnath, Jolly Bhattacharjya, Prankrishna Mahanta, Mintu Baruah, Nirod Choudhury, Tapan Kumar Benarjee, Manuj Gogoi, Popi Kakaty, Dhrubajyoti Talukdar, Disha Saikia, etc. 

The film’s music has been scored by Tarali Sarma, while the songs are rendered by Tarali Sarma and Sufiyara Begum. The cinematography has been done by Nahid Ahmed, sound designing has been done by Amrit Pritam Dutta, and the re-recording and mixing has been executed by Debajit Changmai. While the art direction is by Rama Roy, Sujit Borah the DI colorist, editing has been carried out by Twenchang, costume designing has been done by Gita Rani Goswami and makeup is by Ashitav Baruah. The film’s chief assistant director is Ghanashyam Kalita, while the assistant directors are Ronald Hussain and Samar Jyoti Sarkar, casting director is Ronald Hussain and production designer is Himen Borah. Shot in the locations of Tezpur, Pandu, Maligaon and Beltola, the film is slated to hit the theatres on March 22.

Prantik Deka

March 19, 2019

'Mo and the Shooting Stars' Rocked IGRMS

The second day of the 43rd foundation day celebrations at IGRMS witnessed rock bands from north eastern states of Meghalaya and Assam blending traditional folk with contemporary fusion. 

Rida Gatphoh, founder and lead singer of 'The Musical Folks', said: "Our music is influenced by western songs, gospel music , rock, blues and choir mostly. Youths are drawn towards western music, but we are trying to preserve traditional music." Some of the songs they presented were 'Phawar Mei Mariang', 'Kshaid Nohsngithiang', 'Leitphaishaiing', 'Kyntanglawai' and other Khasi tunes. 

The alternative rock band 'Mo and the Shooting Stars' from Assam performed Assamese songs in jazz rock fashion. Formed in 2015, this band's songs are inspired by rituals and traditions in Assam.

Prantik Deka

March 18, 2019

Rima Das Bags Best Director Award at Dublin International Film Festival

In a heartening news, Rima Das has been honoured with the Dublin Film Critics Circle (DFCC) award for Best Director for her film ‘Bulbul Can Sing’ at the 2019 Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.

Shot in the stunning setting of her home village in India, Rima Das’s film is a moving drama about coming of age, sexuality and personal identity. It centres on Bulbul and her two closest friends, Samu and Bonny, who find themselves challenged by convention, tradition and expectation in their communities as they reach their teens. When outraged locals shame them for their acts, their friendships and very sense of self is put to the test.

I’m delighted to win Dublin Film Critics Circle Jury Award for Best Director for ‘Bulbul Can Sing’. It’s amazing that a film based in a small village in Assam, India, is winning hearts in another part of the world. Thanks Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, Ireland for the honour,” Rima said in a statement.

The third Assamese feature of writer-director-producer Rima Das, the film follows up the wonderful ‘Village Rockstars’ with another powerful story of a young woman fighting to be independent  whilst under the scrutiny of  Assamese tradition. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018, followed by the South Asian premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and Indian premiere at the Jio MAMI 20th Mumbai Film Festival.

The film won the Golden Gateway Award in the India Gold category at the 20th Jio MAMI Film Festival. It also got a Special Mention from the Generation 14plus International Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival this year.

Manoranjan Das, the actor who played the character of Suman in the film also bagged the Best Performance Award at the Singapore International Film Festival last year.

‘Bulbul Can Sing’ was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. It also had its European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Directed and written by Rima Das, the film stars Pakija Begum, Arnali Das, Manabendra Das, Manoranjan Das and Bonita Thakuria.

The Dublin International Film Festival was held in Dublin, the capital city of Ireland from February 20 to March 3.

Prantik Deka

March 14, 2019

Shooting of ‘Siyahir Rong’ Wraps Up

It has only recently completed its shooting portion, but ‘Siyahir Rong’ is already creating a lot of buzz on the social media. The film, based on noted senior political journalist and writer Jitumoni Bora’s acclaimed novel of the same title, is directed by Prodyut Kumar Deka. In 2016, Bora brought out a book that takes an objective inquest into the true nature of journalism in Assam, uncovering a number of concealed truths and stories. Based on his own professional experiences over the past 25 years, his book, published by Bani Mandir, enabled readers to have a refreshing look at the field throughout the 312 pages of the searing novel. The astonishing lengths to which he traversed to unfold the truth behind the fa├žade impressed many, most notably distinguished litterateur Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora, who found his novel intriguing and exceptional. Modern journalists can actually borrow a leaf out of his work.

Revolving around a daily newspaper, its owner and an honest journalist, this lively story’s script is penned by Prodyut Kumar Deka and the dialogue is written by Jitumoni Bora himself. The film wrapped its final day of shoot on March 5. The last scene, held in the premises of Guwahati Press Club, featured popular actor Jatin Bora, cine-journalist Bidyut Kumar Bhuyan, Mrinal Das, among others. 

Journalists have had to undergo a lot of dilemmas and pressures in the work place. While making assessments of various issues, be it political or social, they have generally been objective and neutral. They wouldn’t hesitate to swoop on anyone indulging in corruption and immoral practices, be it in the public or the private sectors. However, the problems mostly stem from the fraudulent misuse of power by the newspaper proprietors for their own ends. A number of journalists, vulnerable as they are, are exploited and oppressed by their superiors and newspaper owners, who hold them on a tight leash. Journalists have no option other than to keep quiet or pander to the wishes of their superiors for fear of losing their jobs. There have also been instances where the journalists, who stand accountable to the public for the fairness and accuracy of their news reports, have resorted to dishonesty and deceit.

Journalist Sasanka Choudhury - the main character of ‘Siyahir Rong’, has to face the ire of the government and is sentenced to a jail term for refusing to compromise with his ideals. On the other hand, journalist Simanta Saikia fights relentlessly against the malicious motives and corrupt practices of his newspaper proprietor. As a watch-dog of his society, he is aware of his responsibilities for the greater good of society. A man of strong convictions and beliefs, he always strives for freedom and truth. So far, no Assamese film has ever been made or for that matter, no Assamese novel has ever been written that genuinely discloses the dark side of the Fourth Estate – its hidden truths.  

The central roles of the newspaper editor, journalist and the newspaper proprietor are played by Towfiq Rehman, Jatin Bora and Alok Nath. The other important roles are enacted by Bidyut Kumar Bhuyan, Kamal Rashid Ahmed, Mrinal Das, Mridupaban Dutta, Melody Patgiri, Mukut Nath, Dristi Naina, Mrinal Bin Qutub, Debika Priyam, child artiste Ragini Bora, etc. The film’s chief assistant director is Rosy Bora, while the cinematography is done by Ratul Barman. As informed by director Prodyut Kumar Deka, the film, which will be completed by the year-end, will be send to various film festivals. 

Prantik Deka

March 11, 2019

India International Dance Festival Held in Guwahati

A unique festival of dance - India International Dance Festival, held under the auspices of Samskritiki, Bhubaneswar, and Darpan Dance Akademi, Guwahati, took place on February 23 and 24, 2019, at the Shilpgram auditorium, Panjabari, Guwahati. Nrityacharjya Jatin Goswami, who inaugurated the festival, spoke about the importance of such platforms for the upcoming young dancers to make their identity at the national and  international levels. He appreciated the attempt of IIDF to bring together all the dance forms into a single platform. Renowned Sattriya expert Naren Baruah, Dr Meernanda Borthakur, Bharatnatyam expert Anu Basumatary and Kathak expert Vijay Srivastav were the Guests of Honour at the inauguration function. Mohiniattam exponent Kalamandalam Sreeja R Krishnan and classical vocalist Kalamandalam Sathyanarayan from Kerala were also present on the occasion. Festival convener of IIDF Guwahati, Odissi and Sattriya artiste Dr Anjana Moyee Saikia welcomed all the guests and dignitaries present on the occasion.

Renowned Sattriya exponent of Assam and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Anita Sharma inaugurated the second day’s proceedings, graced by Namrata Tiwari Talukdar, a Bharatnatyam and Manipuri artiste, Mohiniattam dancer Kalamandalam Sreeja R Krishnan, Sattriya exponents Dr Mallika Kandali, Ranjumoni Saikia, Marami Medhi, etc.

IIDF has been primarily conceived with the aim of celebrating dance without divisions. It was launched in Bhubaneswar, in 2015, by Samskritiki, a 29-year-old cultural society of Odisha. Shyamhari Chakra, a journalist and dance critic of national repute, who is the founder-secretary of Samskritiki, had conceptualised the idea of the festival. Bengaluru-based Sai Venkatesh is the festival chairperson, while Dr Anjana Moyee Saikia, who is the founder-secretary of the Darpan Dance Akademi, is the festival convener at Guwahati. 

The motto of this festival is to strengthen bonds among places, countries and cultures through dance, and to bring all dance traditions and styles together to a common platform. It seeks to strengthen global goodwill and international integration, apart from developing a cultural bond between India with the rest of the world. Today, IIDF has grown into a multi-city event. It is being hosted every year in Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, and this year, the chapters in Guwahati, Pune, Amravati has been launched, while Kolkata, Trissur, Bhopal, Agartala and Puducherry are set to be launched soon. IIDF in Guwahati showcased various dance forms presented by gifted performers who stole the hearts of the audiences with their exquisite renditions and graceful movements.

A number of artistes performed different dance forms like Sattriya, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Odissi, Mohiniattam, and traditional forms like Bhortal Nritya, Bodo, Tai Ahom, among others. There was also a talent search section for the young participants under 20 and 30 years of age on both the days, in the morning hours. It was a real visual treat for the audiences to witness such vibrant performances by young dancers, who showcased various classical dance forms. The dynamic rhythms of Kathak, the graceful and expressive movements of Odissi, Sattriya, Manipuri, vibrant steps of Bharatnatyam, woven with a series of lyrical movements, regaled the audiences.

The festival, organised for the first time in the Northeast India by Samskritiki and Darpan Dance Akademi, was attended by a number of noted dignitaries, dance connoisseurs and enthusiasts.

Prantik Deka

March 10, 2019

Guwahati Girl Tanya Hawelia Creates Waves as a Stylist in Bollywood

Guwahati-based Tanya Hawelia created waves in the Bollywood movie ‘Gully Boy’ with her costume designs and styling. Hawelia got an opportunity to work with some of the most well-known costume designers of the country like Poornamitra Singh and Arjun Bhasin, who also acted as her guides for the movie. Tanya obtained her professional degree in Stylist and Image Design from Pearl Academy in Delhi, a leading fashion designing college of the country.

In the interim of the course, she also worked as an assistant stylist for L’officiel, interned with Urvashi Kaur, and freelanced with FDCI (Amazon Fashion Week).

The turning point in Hawelia’s career came when stylist Mansha Khurana gave her an opportunity to work as an intern stylist in the web series ‘Made in Heaven’ which got released on Amazon Prime, on March 8.

During the first month of her internship in the web series, she bagged the opportunity of working as an assistant stylist in ‘Gully Boy’, a successful film directed by Zoya Akhtar.

To style actors Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt as college going students, Hawelia with her team had to take pictures of students of various colleges in Mumbai for references. The team would also wake up at 3 am and go shopping at the very famous Bombay Chor Bazaar to pick authentic old clothes.

The stylist is currently working on her clothing label ‘S.I.T.A.R.A.’ and is planning to bring the best of styles and trends in the northeast.

Hawelia who inaugurated her first store in Bangalore, travels to Mumbai for projects.

Prantik Deka

Bhaskar Hazarika's ‘Aamis’ Selected to Tribeca Film Festival in USA

National Award-winning director of the critically acclaimed ‘Kothanodi’, Bhaskar Hazarika's new Assamese film ‘Aamis’ has been officially selected at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in the US.

News of our selection in Tribeca gives a huge boost to our plans to bring ‘Aamis’ to audiences this year. My congratulations and gratitude to our cast and crew for this tremendous achievement, and thanks to everyone who supported our film,” Hazarika said in a statement.

The film will have its world premiere at the 'International Narrative Competition Section' of the 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival, scheduled to take place from April 24 to May 5, in New York.

Christoph Waltz's directorial debut ‘Georgetown’, ‘Dreamland’ produced by Margot Robbie, ‘A Day in the Life of America’ directed by Jared Leto and ‘Nomad: In The Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin’, directed and written by Werner Herzog, are some of the other films selected to be screened at the festival.

‘Aamis’ follows the story of Nirmali, a married paediatrician and Suman, a young PhD student researching food habits in northeastern India.

Suman's work exposes him to the belief that there's no kind of food that can be considered abnormal and Nirmali is drawn to this idea. The two quickly discover that they have a shared love for food - specifically, meat.

Together, they bond over meals comprising unusual meats on platonic dates, although Suman longs for some sort of physical contact. As Nirmali's taste buds grow more adventurous, their relationship takes a dark and bizarre turn neither had anticipated.

‘Aamis’ has been produced by Poonam Deol of Signum Productions and Shyam Bora of Metanormal Motion Pictures in association with Wishberry Films.

Prantik Deka

March 9, 2019

"Lucid Recess" Releases New Single ‘Cell’

Lucid Recess, Guwahati’s longstanding veterans in Alternative Metal/ Progressive Rock have come out with their new single called ‘Cell’, recently. This is the second release from their upcoming and as of yet unnamed album after the release of ‘Blindmen’ in July, last year. The song’s video – shot by filmmaker and friend of the band Anurag Baruah – sets the bend members in a small, stuffy under-construction room at the band’s Lucid Recess Studio in Guwahati.

The new album is going to be a groovier departure from our earlier heavy tones,” says the band’s vocalist Amitabh Barooa. Since its release, ‘Blindmen’ has received rave reviews from fans and the media alike, with hype building up around their upcoming music.

We are also planning to release a couple of more singles in the next few months,” added Amithabh. With Siddharth Barooa on guitar and Sandeepan Baruah on drums,  Lucid Recess have attained an almost legendary status in the Progressive Rock and Alternative Metal genres in the country, and especially so in the North East, and there is enormous anticipation amongst their fans to hear their new sound.

Prantik Deka