The State’s noted actress-filmmaker Dr Santwana Bardoloi’s Rajat Kamal winning Assamese film ‘Maj Rati Keteki’ (Midnight Keteki) is all set for release all over on October 27.
It gave a lot of space to critics to term Dr Bardoloi as ‘one-film wonder’. A two-decade long hiatus from film-making is not something you take after winning the National Film Award and a Special Jury Award at the International Film Festival of India. But then, that is exactly what Assamese film-maker Santwana Bardoloi, a paediatrician by profession, did after winning these with her debut movie ‘Adajya’ (1996), which chronicled the struggles of three widows to lead dignified lives despite the extreme restrictions mandated by law and custom. The film was based on a much-admired Assamese novel titled Dontal Haatir Uiye Khowa Haoda, authored by Jnanpeeth awardee Dr Indira Goswami. An FTII-trained cinematographer Mrinal Kanti Das won the National Award for ‘Adajya’ (shared with another Assamese movie ‘Raag Biraag’), which came for the first time to the Assamese film industry. ‘Raag Biraag’ (Vacation of a Sanyasi, 1996), also brought a Director’s Best Debut Film award to the seasoned Assamese actor-director Bidyut Chakraborty.
Her second film ‘Maj Rati Keteki’ is about a writer who returns to the town where once he was inspired to begin his journey. Adil Hussain, who plays the leading role, received a National Award with the jury’s special mention for his performance in the 116-minutes movie. The title of the movie literarily means midnight hawk-cuckoo, which finds reflection in the long whistling cry of a small Keteki bird.
Conceived, directed and produced by Dr Bardoloi, under the banner of her newly launched production house named Udara Films, the movie’s other cast members include Kulada Kumar Bhattacharya, Sulakshana Barua, Mala Goswami, Shakil Imtiaz, Mahendra Rabha, Rahul G Sarma, Pranami Bora, Indu Mohan Das, Ashim K Baruah, Ponkhi Kashyap and Kasvi Songkorison among others. It has cinematography by Gnana Shekar VS and music by Anurag Saikia. ‘Maj Rati Keteki’s sound design and mixing was done by Debajit Changmai and only song played with Rupam Bhuyan’s voice. Ushma Bardoloi edited the movie and also worked as the associate director.
‘Maj Rati Keteki’ has earned rave reviews in a number of international film festivals, besides receiving invitations from a number of prestigious film festivals across the country and is waiting for more screenings.
In a press meet held sometime back, Dr Bardoloi admitted that there is presently a crisis in the Assamese film industry as the number of moviegoers for regional cinemas has not increased substantially. However, she remains hopeful that the general audience would soon come forward to support the local film industry.
Pointing out that a good movie can be totally entertaining and another one too serious, while the third one may be entertaining as well as serious, Bardoloi claimed that all three productions could be good movies.
Even though she agreed that an Assamese producer hardly gets back the invested amount of money for the production, the visible response from the audience in theatre halls always encourages a responsible filmmaker to start a new venture. She said that the film societies as well as the media promote the culture of appreciating honest cinema in the country.