Last year, films like ‘Doordarshan Eti Jantra’, ‘Kothanodi’ and Bahnimaan’ attracted audiences back to the movie houses, creating a viable atmosphere for a host of investors and filmmakers. But in between, there were other lackluster, forgettable movies pouring into theatres that distracted the audiences. But when Assamese films like the critically lauded ‘Beautiful Lives’ and ‘Othello’, that defied any commercial interests, and deserved to be seen, went largely unnoticed by the general public, it can be attributed, partly so, to the failure of local viewers to measure up to or appreciate good and inspiring works.
Amidst intense excitement, the whole country and indeed the state got immersed in a phenomenon called ‘Baahubali 2’, which has become the highest-grossing Indian film in history. Despite being regional in character, the film is finding unprecedented appeal and popularity not just in India, but is also enjoying a position of prominence in overseas shores. But it has in the process, ruthlessly trampled on regional releases, including ‘Local Kung Fu 2’, which was unjustifiably pulled off from almost every major theatre even after faring quite well at the time. A contemporary take on Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, the follow-up to the 2013 cult film was relished by both older generations and younger viewers, before audience loyalties soon shifted, leaving the filmmakers hugely disappointed. Unless there’s a profound change in people’s perspective, there’s nothing one can do to change the present predicament and uncertainties. It wasn’t exactly a movie expected to revive industry fortunes like ‘Local Kung Fu 2’, but despite being aware of the risks involved, the filmmakers released ‘Antareen’ at a time when the storm has hardly subsided. To safeguard their interests, Assamese filmmakers are now demanding protective mechanisms with regard to the screen quota system that obligates theatres to screen local titles for at least one show a day.
After resisting the lure of mainstream cinema for quite some time, Munna Ahmed has now picked up the megaphone after getting an invitation to direct from young entrepreneur and cultural activist Haidar Alam Azad. Ahmed’s new commercial venture ‘Nijanar Gaan’ was launched with a lot of fanfare in a function held at the Jyoti Chitraban’s Dr Bhupen Hazarika Auditorium recently. Ahmed, whose last venture behind the camera was some six years back, has handled a number of big projects over the years, but struggled to match the quality and box-office performance of his debut film ‘Jun Jhale Kopalot’. Barring a few, the films that he made were greeted with luke-warm enthusiasm by the audience. In the meantime, Ahmed sought some solace in a bit of low profile television projects, while movies in general continued to have a hard time at the box-office. ‘Nijanar Gaan’ is scripted by well-known director-writer Munin Barua from his own story. It also carries a strong social message.
The mohurut began with the lighting of the traditional lamp by none other than the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, who was accompanied by media adviser Hrishikesh Goswami, legal adviser Shantanu Bharali, new chairman of Jyoti Chitraban Studio Pabitra Margherita, honorary chairperson of the Assam State Film Finance and Development Corporation Limited Jatin Bora, Commissioner and Secretary of Cultural Affairs Department Preetom Saikia, Deputy chairman of GMDA Abdul Mannan Faruk, Chairman of ATDC Jayanta Mallabarua, Director of Cultural Affairs, Govt. of Assam Debaprasad Misra, Joint Secretary to Govt of Assam Monita Borgohain, Prag News chairman and managing director Sanjive Narain, Nekibur Zaman, Kumar Dipak Das, Ashok Bhargab, Abhijit Nath, Navadeep Kalita among others. The function was attended quite a number of celebrities from the movie industry and the film’s entire cast and crew.
The story, in a nutshell, chiefly revolves around a young musician and his struggles. So understandably, music plays an important role in the film, and it will be scored by skillful composer, the Mumbai based Jatin Sarma. The casts of artistes include Arun Nath, Minu Bania, Jatin Bora, Aaimee Barua, Amrita Gogoi, Bhranti Medhi, Biki, Ananya Pachani, Atul Pachani, Debojit Majumdar, newcomer John Haque, Bhagawat Pritam, Sidhartha Mukherjee, Dinesh Bishaya, Padmarag Goswami, Niloy Gupta, etc. The film to be cinematographed by Pradip Daimari, will feature the services of Deepak Roy as the chief assistant director, Jyoti Shankar Bhata as the art director, Fiza Sheikh as the production designer, Jinny Mahalia as the choreographer, Sujit Bora as the DI colourist and Manoj Mishra as the production controller.
In a much subdued affair, the mohurut of another new film presented by Sivam Creation titled ‘Kanin’ was launched in a function held in Tezpur recently. Director Monjul Baruah has acquired a special affinity for the literary works of eminent litterateur Rita Chowdhury as this will be his second film to be based on a story by her. He has more than proved his immense talent with his debut work in ‘Antareen’. The function was graced by noted artistes Baharul Islam, Purnima Pathak Saikia, Jahanara Begum, cultural activist Hemanta Kumar Barua among others.
After ‘Antareen’, Chandra Mudoi returns with a family entertainer – ‘Chhaygaonor Champa’, which got released on May 19. Made as a bilingual in Assamese and Bengali, the film set in a rural milieu, is a heartbreaking story of Champa – a spirited, vivacious rustic girl, whose life completely falls apart after landing up in a brothel upon deceived by a man she met while visiting her elder sister in a hospital. Soon enough, she manages to break free after being rescued by a police officer named Joy who even decides to marry her. But far from being her knight in shining armor, the officer is compelled to marry a girl of his mother’s choice. Upon hearing the news, Champa is shattered to bits but resigns herself to fate when Joy spells out the truth.
Meanwhile, Joy’s newly married wife smells something fishy going on between him and Champa. She starts physically torturing her. But as things unfold, Joy’s wife is kidnapped by a breakaway convict. What happens next forms the crux of the story.
The film’s story, script and dialogues are written by director Chandra Mudoi himself. It’s produced by Dibrugarh based Mrinal Bin Kutub under the banner of Sahil Creation. After ‘Abhisapta Prem’ and ‘Tyaag’, this film is one of the few bilingual movies in Assamese and Bengali to be made here, and to include actors from Bengali cinema, basically with an aim to tap the market in Bengal. Apart from Amrita Gogoi, Mrinal Bin Kutub, Dr Rajen Jaiswal, Sahil, etc, the Bengali artistes include Biswajit Chakraborty, Joy Bhattacharjya, Irani Mukherjee, Palomi Bannerjee and Sharmistha Chakravorty.
The filmmakers also plan to release the film in Bangladesh. ‘Chhaygaonor Champa’s music is scored by Dony Hazarika. Cinematography is by Jahir. The film’s chief assistant directors are Mrinal Bin Kutub and Vivek.