One of the heritage symbols of the State, the ‘Jonaki’ Cinema Hall, the first cinema hall in the North East, constructed by Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala to screen the first Assamese film ‘Joymoti’ way back in 1937, is set to resume its lost glory soon under the initiative of the ‘Assam State Film Finance and Development Corporation Limited’ with a renovation package of Rs 50 lakh.
It is to be mentioned here that Tezpur, the cultural capital of Assam and the birthplace of many cultural and literary icons is waging a struggle to carry forward the traditions of its rich heritage. ‘Jonaki’ undoubtedly a pride for the people of Tezpur as well as the State today lies in a dilapidated condition. With just a handful of cine-goers and barely any decent returns, the hall has been facing the threat of closure in the near future. People rarely go to the hall to watch movies as it is in a bad shape. Neither the seats are in a good condition nor is the hall clean. Indeed, over the years, it has been seen that the condition of the hall has not improved even a bit. With the coming up of multiplexes and high-end cinema halls all over, people no longer like to wait to watch a movie on television several months after its release. Instead, they are ready to pay a little extra, and get a better experience of watching movies in a hall with better ambience and infrastructure.
However, amidst the tough challenges faced by the oldest cinema hall of the region for survival, on July 21 last, the chairman of the ‘Assam State Film Finance and Development Corporation Limited’ and noted cine actor Jatin Bora in a special function organised in connection with birth centenary of Jyotiprasad Agarwala’s brother Hriday Agarwala, at the Nameri Eco-Camp announced that under a State Government project, ‘Jonaki’ will be renovated at an estimated cost of Rs 50 lakh. Many people of Tezpur town sentimentally connected with ‘Jonaki’ like cultural activist Debabrata Sharma remarked that ‘Jonaki’ is the pride of the people of the State and it is high time to renovate the hall. “Obviously, it would be a costly initiative and we know that when it is done the ticket prices would go up. However, I am happy to know that the State Government’s Film and Finance Development Corporation is coming forward for the revival of the cinema hall.”
Welcoming the initiative of the agency, folk cultural activist and a permanent member of frontline cultural organisation, ‘Chatok’, Anil Bhattacharya said that the establishment of the Jonaki hall is a historic event in the history of Assamese cinema and people should be made aware of it. “I am today happy to know that the Government is coming forward to protect its legacy,” he maintained.
It needs mention here that the special event organised on the day by Nameri Eco-Camp in association with Tezpur Sahitya Sabha to recall the contributions of noted social and cultural activist Late Hriday Agarwala was marked with a series of programmes including various competitions among the students, cultural show by various ethnic cultural groups such as Boro, Nepali and Mising. A handful of dignitaries from various social organisations and family members of the Jyotiprasad Agarwala, media persons, Assam Rifles etc attended the function.
In the programme, award-winning children of various schools in various competitions were awarded.