An actor who has left an indelible mark in cinema and theatre with some of the most fabulous performances, Robin Neog passed away under tragic circumstances recently. An actor of incredible significance in Assam, Neog received rave notices from both critics and audiences alike during the last three decades for his terrific performances on stage and on screen.
Born on February 21, 1953 in Biswanath Chariali, Robin Neog joined the Directorate of Cultural Affairs in 1975 after graduating from Guwahati Commerce College. He was singled out as an actor of immense skill and intense personality there. Soon he was presented with the leading roles in the plays presented by the Cultural Affairs department. He became extremely popular with the audiences with his performances in central roles in Dulal Roy’s ‘Brikkhar Khoj’, ‘Sarkari Inspector’, ‘Aahar’, ‘Huna Janmejoy’ among others. During his stint at the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Robin Neog performed at several places in the country, including Delhi and Kolkata, thereby gaining precious experience.
It was filmmaker Pulok Gogoi, who being thoroughly impressed by Neog’s performance in a play staged at Delhi, offered him the leading role in his film ‘Shrimati Mahimamayee’, in 1979. Neog, who seemed remarkably at ease doing a comic role in his debut film, made a great impression among the audiences. He was later able to delight and charm audiences in several Assamese films, including ‘Ponakon’, ‘Sadori’, ‘Sewali’, ‘Aai Desh Mur Desh’, ‘Baan’, among others. Many consider his performances in Abdul Mazid’s ‘Punakon’, where he played the protagonist and Pulok Gogoi’s ‘Sadori’ as his best in cinema.
But Neog was more involved in the mobile theatre circuit, and as a result of that, he had to turn down quite a few film offers. He played an important role in Guwahati Doordarshan’s first telefilm ‘Nishi Ujagor’ followed by ‘Dawor Aru Nai’. Neog was part of several popular television shows like ‘Molok Guin Guin’, ‘Naamgharia’, ‘Dolongor Situ Par Nai’, etc. He impressed everyone with his sensitive performance in the thought-provoking docu-drama ‘Bahadur Gaonburha’. The role required him to undergo a transformation from a 20-year old robust, energetic youth to an 80-year old world-weary man. Even though he had made a name for himself with a series of performances in both amateur stage and the silver screen, Robin Neog’s main love has always been the mobile theatre stage, a medium in which he was perfectly at home.
Neog made his mobile theatre debut with the late Sada Lahkar’s Aradhana Theatre, in 1979. He was one of those rare combinations of charisma, talent and professionalism. After Aradhana Theatre, Neog acted in Kohinoor, Hengool and Shrimanta Sankardev, before emerging as a producer with ‘Ashirwad Theatre’, where he enjoyed a resurgence of sorts.
Theatre audiences will always remember him for his wonderful performances in plays like ‘Mrittunjoy’, ‘Prithivir Prem’, ‘Spartacus’, ‘Ashimot Jer Heral Sima’, ‘Matir Gari’, ‘Soraguri Sapori’, ‘Baghjaal’, ‘Kamrup-Kamakhya’, ‘Annadata’, ‘Sabok’, ‘Bandit Queen’, ‘Gohain Thanor Saki’, ‘Aidew Handique’, among others. After the death of eminent drama director Prashanta Hazarika, Robin Neog took charge of Hengool Theatre as a producer. He exposed audiences to a wide variety of plays which helped it reach new heights under his leadership. It was under Neog’s initiative that National Award-winning actress Seema Biswas acted in an Assamese play under Hengool for the first time. After working for some more years as a producer with Hengool, Neog started the Ashirwad Theatre. Ashirwad made a big impression with theatre-goers with its socially relevant and lavishly mounted productions. Some of his popular plays under Ashirwad Theatre are – ‘Ejon Abhimonyur Sondhanot’, ‘Dora Hobo Kun’, ‘Mama Bhagin’, ‘Ejoni Morom Loga Suwali’ and ‘Maa Dewta Aru Maina’. A number of major stars from cinema worked with him, infact both Jatin Bora and Kopil Bora got a fresh lease of life after working with Ashirwad Theatre.
Robin Neog was always quite keen to make audiences think rather than just entertain. In all of these thirty years, he had shown tireless zeal and enthusiasm. He loved mobile theatre dearly, and had always encouraged young and upcoming artistes and technicians. But he did have problems managing his finances in the last few years. He was determined to make a comeback, despite the setbacks. But that was not to be. It seems impossible to believe that a voice so familiar and vivid will not be heard again. Neog leaves behind his mother, wife and noted actress Hira Neog and two sons Indumouli and Anal Neog.