The year has been one of mixed baggage. Nobody was predicting anything except further sorrow for the producers and financers who put their money on the line and run financial risks. There were no easy formulas for commercial success. After a really ordinary first half, the box-office leap frogged in the second part of 2016, but only temporarily, when audiences trooped off to see Assamese movies at the theatres, even exceeding expectations. This surge in admissions indicated that there is still a market for quality movies. Altogether 20 Assamese films saw the light of day, which was quite in contrast to the dismal 2015, which saw the industry at its lowest ebb with the release of just eight films, most of whom have been box-office catastrophes. In terms of popular and critical reception and commercial success, the year’s top film was undoubtedly the Rajat Kamal winning ‘Kothanodi’. The film drew rave reviews at the festival circuit, satisfying the most discerning cinemagoers, and at the same time striking a resonant note with the common audiences, helped to some extent by the word of mouth publicity. The other bright spots in 2016 are ‘Doordarshan Eti Jantra’, ‘Gaane Ki Aane’, ‘Bahniman’ and surprisingly, the animated ‘Sarbagunakar Srimanta Sankardeva’. But before the year gave a taste of the new vibrancy that has taken shape, the other movies ‘Tumar Premot Pori’, followed by ‘Love in Tawang’, ‘Borhxaranya’, ‘Lokabandhoo’, ‘Pratyahban’, ‘Cactus’, ‘Morichika’, ‘Doordarshan Eti’, ‘Saat Nomboror Sandhanat’, ‘Dikchow Banat Palaax’, ‘Hari Om’, ‘Paglee’, ‘Rough & Tough’, ‘Zero : The Value Of Life’ have all out done one another in terms of box-office receipts, which was very poor indeed, leaving several producers in the lurch. A number of films are by first-time directors, not fully sentient to the vagaries of market film and contemporary taste. Manju Borah’s Rajat Kamal winning film ‘Dau Huduni Methai’ made in the Bodo language hit the theatres on December 30.
Audiences nowadays are well informed with sharper sensibility and greater awareness. For all their intents and purposes, most of the movies suffered due to an apparent lack of promotion and marketing, such vital components in today’s day and age. The lack of adequate number of cinema halls is another factor deeply affecting the outcome at the box-office.
The intensive publicity campaign did a world of good to Rajesh Bhuyan’s ‘Doordarshan Eti Jantra’ and Biswajeet Bora’s ‘Bahniman’, which have done exceedingly well at the box-office. The films more than fulfilled the expectations of fans. Both the films were buoyed by a strong performance from Jatin Bora, a busy mobile theatre artiste as well. Despite the passage of time and a growing pouch, he has managed to keep his star appeal intact . ‘Bahniman’ might be an exercise in style that we very rarely see on screen but there’s an interesting twist to the story. Bhaskar Hazarika showed his remarkable ability to inspire performances from an ensemble cast in ‘Kothanodi’. Zubeen Garg deserves some credit for his charismatic turn in ‘Gaane Ki Aane’, which did pretty well but perhaps not quite as well as it had been hoped it would. It was quite surprising, and at the same time, heartening to find an animated film like ‘Sarbagunakar Srimanta Sankardeva’ on the list of films doing well, belying everyone’s expectations.
Its high time that filmmakers dispense with the idea of siring mediocre, amateurish productions in the name of entertainment, which has often been the case. They need to conform to the conception of realist family entertainment in accordance with the developments in society and populist culture. There were a few movies that gave an indication of that very idea in terms of subject and treatment.
It has been a revelation of sorts, in a sense that some filmmakers have amptly demonstrated that they are not afraid to explore new genres and styles. Its not often that we see directors try something novel with a new form of storytelling. Bhaskar Hazarika’s ‘Kothanodi’ was a case in point. Sanjb Sabhapandit’s ‘Dikchow Banat Palaax’ and Diganta Mazumdar’s ‘Borhxaranya’ might have got a raw deal with the audience but the intentions were all the same honest and pure. The year also witnessed the injection of quite a few new blood from all quarters – filmmakers, scriptwriters, actors, producers, etc.