September 28, 2019

Prakash Deka’s ‘Jonaki Porua’ all set to Conquer the Festival Circuit

Assam-born filmmaker Prakash Deka’s ‘Jonaki Porua’ (Fireflies) has been selected to be screened at the Twin Cities Film Festival, Minneapolis, and the Indian Film Festival of Ireland this year, among other venues. 

Based in a remote Assamese village, ‘Jonaki Porua’ is the story of resilience of Jahnu's journey to being Jahnavi, a transwoman, standing against the tide to be herself in a remote village in Assam.

The film will have its North American Premiere at the Twin Cities Film Fest, which is one of America’s premiere celebrations of independent cinema, to be held from October 16 to 28, 2019. ‘Jonaki Porua’ is also an official selection for the Independent Prisma Film Awards, Rome, for the October edition.

The movie seems an adept fit to the festival’s core belief of cinema challenging the status quo and shifting perceptions.

In November, ‘Jonaki Porua’ will travel halfway across the world to the Indian Film Festival of Ireland, which aims to introduce the Irish audience with the global vision of Indian Cinema.

The film is also scheduled to travel to Dialogues-Calcutta International LGBTQ Film And Video Festival, one of the most prestigious queer film festivals in India in November and then later at Bangalore Queer Film Festival next year in February. 

An upcoming self-taught writer and filmmaker from Assam, Prakash Deka, who hails from a theatre background, makes his cinematic debut with this socially relevant film. Deka has been quite cautious in treading the film’s sensitive subject, while shedding light on the hostile conditions transgenders are subjected to. The film could well change the way society think and feel about one of the most underrepresented and misunderstood community. Deka also has an ongoing feature film project, ‘Broken Arrow’ at the post-production stage. Deka’s wife, Bitopi Dutta, a PhD research scholar based in Dublin, has also been a part of the creative process, apart from acting in the film.

The personal insights of Milin Dutta, the film’s producer and a computer engineer by profession, also inject an intensely personal element to the film. A well-known transgender figure, the Assam-born social activist has tackled his challenging life quite fearlessly. From being born with a female body, to realising that he was different, to spreading awareness about different sexual orientations, his journey has been quite eventful. Dutta has contributed to spreading awareness about the LGBT community to the general public in the USA and India by being an active founder of various social groups such as ‘Out in the Backyard’ (USA) and ‘Xukia’ (Guwahati). 

Currently a resident of the United States, ‘Jonaki Porua’ is Dutta’s first production venture, and its critical acclaim is definitely a step forward in his philanthropic journey.

Made with a tiny budget, ‘Jonaki Porua’, which was filmed in Nalbari, Guwahati and Tezpur, is, perhaps, the first Assamese feature to confront homophobia and the stigma attached to being a transgender, enduring social discrimination and prejudice from the society. Featuring a cast of six actors, the role of the  protagonist has been played by Benjamin Daimary, who is a member of the LGBTQ community. The whole process of getting involved in the film has been an empowering experience for him on a personal level.

Prantik Deka.


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