Releasing on the last day of the current month, ‘Othello’, the keenly anticipated Assamese film, is expected to usher in a new trend in Assamese cinema. A cinematic revelation of sorts, it has already received a clutch of awards and honours, including the National Award for Best Film in Assamese in in 2015 and selection to the Indian Panorama. The film consistently impressed critics and discerning cine-goers in a number of film festivals in both India and abroad.
Produced by Manabendra Adhikary under the banner of Artha Films, the story-screenplay of this film is written by Ranjit Sarma.
The pressing need for any filmmaker is a writer with a strong visual and aesthetic sense. The theory that the screenplay is paramount holds perfectly true in the case of ‘Othello’. Those who have seen the film are highly impressed with the script, its character delineation and plot structure. It was a well-deserved recognition when Ranjit Sarma received the Best Screenplay Award in 2014 in the Indian Cine Film Festival for the film. He was discerned by a distinct group of filmmakers for his aesthetic sensibilities. He has written screenplays for several critically acclaimed and award-winning films, most notably Bidyut Chakraborty’s ‘Rag-Birag’ and ‘Nisiddha Nadi’, Manju Bora’s ‘Baibhav’ and ‘Anya Ek Jatra’, Sanjeev Hazorika’s ‘Mimangsa’, etc. One rarely hears of anyone being held in such high esteem by veteran and contemporary filmmakers.
The film is a directorial debut of Hemanta Kumar Das, who has made several serials in the past. In recent years, the film industry has seen a good flowering of new directors who have brought in their own vision and perspective. Hemanta was influenced a great deal by Padum Barua, the director of landmark Assamese film ‘Gonga Chilonir Pakhi’, noted cine-journalist Pabitra Kumar Deka and film critic from Bengal, Rajat Ray. The moment Hemanta was handed the script, he knew straightway that he has found exactly what he was looking for in terms of plot, characters and form.
After the first schedule went off smoothly, the film went into rough weather financially. Director Hemanta Das handed over the reins to businessman Manabendra Adhikary, a film-buff himself, who produced the film under his production banner Artha Films. Although there were reported clashes and disagreements during the production and post-production stage between the producer and director, there is hopefully no love lost between them now as the film is all set to hit the screens on March 31.
‘Othello’ has been reasonably successful in communicating with the critics and audiences alike in the festival circuit. It’s hoped that the film will leave the same impression upon its release at the theatres.
However, this film is no remake of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, but only a tangential evocation of the Bard’s classic play of jealousy, love and obsession. ‘Othello, The Moor of Venice’ depicts the plight of a coloured hero in a white dominated society. The Assamese ‘Othello’ on the other hand, is accursed with a skin disorder too, and that forces him to live in some sort of anonymity from the mainstream of dark skinned people. He is juxtaposed by the call girl – female protagonist, an old Alzheimer’s patient Bankim, and his cook and one-time jail inmate of a leftist party – Pabitri. There is another twist when the terrorist of the present time arrives to seek shelter with his mother Pabitri. This twist in the story reveals the intricacies of the Left Movement of the past, terrorism of the present and the sufferings of the innocent in the armed conflict and how in the midst of it all life still goes on.
The film wouldn’t have reached its artistic heights without the genuine contributions of the artistes and technicians involved. The cast of artistes in ‘Othello’ include Arun Nath, Runu Devi, Bibhuti Bhushan Hazarika, Jupitora Bhuyan, Arup Baishya, Prithviraj Rabha, Bina Patangia, Kalpana Kalita, child artiste Zubin Das, Jyoti Bhuyan, Gunakar Dev Goswami, Kasturi Phukan, Jun Jun Borah, etc. Its cinematographed by Nahid Ahmed with the Red MX camera, with the background music scored by Tarali Sarma, while the art direction is by Jyoti Shankar Bhattacharya and Gautam Das. Edited by Raju Gogoi, the film’s costumes are by Lukumoni Gogoi and makeup is by Babi Chakraborty. While Diganta Khaund is the film’s D.I. colorist, the sound designing is done by Dipak Dutta and Bijoy Nath at the Jyoti Chitraban Studio.