New Assamese Film ‘Phehujali’ (Early Dawn) by Biswajeet Bora

Last year, ‘Bahniman’ with it’s freshness of appeal more than fulfilled audiences expectations, opening up vistas of hope to commercial filmmakers. It was one of those few films responsible for reversing the waning trend in audience attendance. Director Biswajeet Bora was quite successful in pushing the edges of innovation in his modes of storytelling and execution. Beaming with confidence, he is now exploring an off-beat story, based on a real-life incident, in his next film, titled ‘Phehujali’ (Early Dawn), whose shooting has just started.

A collaborative funding venture, the film, a dark tragedy, depicts the travails of a elderly woman stricken with Alzheimer’s, and the toll it takes on the lives of near and dear ones. Desolated by their own children, its her husband who acts as her caretaker, providing unconditional help and support, while trying to cope with a strange but painful situation, even as her condition steadily deteriorates. The situation somehow gets manipulated after the entry of two adolescents, who brings some joy to their lives and the world around them.

A considerable part of the human population, more so the ageing demographic, is effected with the relentlessly degenerative Alzheimer’s disease, more of a postmodern enigma, viciously robbing memory and cognitive function, and wreaking havoc on the lives of near and dear ones. One could blame it on stress, depression, hectic contemporary lifestyles or food habits, but contrary to what many perceive or believe to be a 60s syndrome, Alzheimer’s can actually hit people even in their 30s and 40s.

Moving away from the commercial territory, Biswajeet Bora will make a sincere attempt to represent an important issue, something that’s happening in our midst at the moment, with the right kind of care and emotion that the subject commands. His socio-environmental film ‘Aisa Yeh Jahaan’ created cinematic history when it became the country’s first carbon-neutral film. Having lived a good part of his life in the tinsel town of Mumbai, where he worked as an assistant director to filmmaker Jahnu Baruah, Biswajeet is quite keen to imbue his movie with stark realism, and at the same time, create greater awareness of the disease. Although there have been a spate of Assamese plays on the subject, but it has hardly made it into movies. The film has already evinced the interests of financiers, even multinational companies, both in the State and outside, which is very encouraging for the production. Moreover, the filmmaker also plans to dedicate this film to the memory of renowned film producer Sailadhar Baruah.

The elderly couple in the film will be enacted by mobile theatre’s acclaimed artistes – Moni Bora and Suren Mahanta. Though not seen that often on screen, the director nonetheless strongly believes in their capabilities. They will be supported by well-known theatre and film artiste Baharul Islam, veteran artiste Bishnu Khargharia, child artiste Rodali Bora, Rupam Chetia, Monalisha Das, etc.

Besides directing and producing under the banner of Quarter Moon Productions, Biswajeet has also written the film’s story, script and dialogue. As informed by him, ‘Phehujali’ has been planned for a year-end release. He is even planning to premiere the movie overseas, either in London or Germany.

The film’s subject matter has impressed quite a few people, including some journalist friends based in UK and Germany, who have offered him such a proposal. The film will be cinematographed by Mumbai based Titu Jena, who also worked in Biswajeet’s ‘Bahniman’. The sound designing will be handled by Devabrot Chaliha, music will be scored by Deep Priyam, while the costumes will be taken care of by Lopamudra Gogoi Gora. The film’s DI Colourist is Sujit Bora. While Jitumoni Bora is the film’s creative producer, Ashim Saikia the executive producer,  the film’s co-producers are Rupali Barua and Meghali Barua Lahiri, and it’s line producers are Pallavjyoti Mahanta and Rosy Bora.

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