April 21, 2015

Bidyut Chakravarty : A Visionary Director Passes Away

Known for spinning out socially relevant, spellbinding stories and creating characters that ring with life, National Award-winning director and actor Bidyut Chakravarty passed away after suffering a cerebral stroke in a private nursing home in Guwahati on April 15th. He was 56 at the time of his death.

A director's director, Bidyut Chakravarty was one of those very few Assamese filmmakers who enjoyed a passionate and loyal cult following. As well as being technically most sound, Chakravarty's work focused on the grittier facets of life in an observational manner. Despite his penchant for stories with unusual themes, he never failed to establish intimacy with the audiences.

Chakravarty forged a string of unforgettable images in his literate and critically acclaimed debut-feature 'Raag Biraag', which won the coveted Indira Gandhi award for director's first feature film at the National Film Competition in 1996. A compelling piece of work that raised a lot of eyebrows at the time of its release due to its hard-hitting and forceful content. It was also the inaugural film for the Indian Panorama section of International film festival of India held at Thiruvananthapuram in 1997. The film also bagged nine State awards in 1997 including awards for Best Direction and Best Film.

Chakravarty dealt with real serious drama in his followed up project 'Nissiddha Nodi' released in 2000. The film won three State awards including Best Direction and was also selected in the Kolkata International Film Festival.

He never compromised with the aesthetics of filmmaking even when he made movies with certain commercial leanings like 2002's 'Gun Gun Gane Gane' or 'Anuraag' released in 2004. Besides their flawless technical aspects and competent direction, they dealt with important contemporary issues. Both 'Gun Gun Gane Gane' and 'Anuraag' were big-time winners at the State Film Awards including awards for Best Film.

His last film 'Dwaar' made in 2013 after a gap of eight years, had won four Filmfare awards last year, bringing cheer to the ailing Assamese film industry. It was a remarkable achievement considering his state at the time, being besieged by a number of health related issues. This critically acclaimed film based on eminent writer Apurba Sarma's story 'Bahiroloi Juwa Baat' is set in the backdrop of the violent student unrest and it's aftermath in the eighties. Chakravarty brings his own aesthetics to the proceedings, and it blends wonderfully with this very absorbing tale.

Bidyut Chakravarty started his acting career as a child artiste in films like 'Mukuta' and 'Jog Biyog' in early seventies. Later, as an adult, he had left an indelible mark as an actor in films like 'Anirban', 'Sendur', 'Suraj', 'Puja', 'Kolahal', 'Haladhar', 'Meemanxa', 'Urvashi', 'Grahan', 'I Killed Him Sir', 'Ahir Bhairab' and 'Dhunia Tirutabur' and stage plays like 'Sankalp', 'Hewers of Coal', 'Holi', 'Ajirnapurar Sipare', 'Panchajanya' etc and radio plays like 'Hamlet'.

Besides acting, Chakravarty simultaneously worked as an assistant director with Pulak Gogoi, Charukamal Hazarika and Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia in a number of movies in the eighties.

His first major directorial venture on television was the tele-play 'Kukurnesia Manuh' (Wolf Man) in 1986. He never for once failed to leave his signature stamp while directing television serials like 'Tadanta' and 'Dhaniramor Dhan'.

The news of Chakraborty's death cast a pall of gloom across Assam, particularly among the film fraternity and cine lovers.

"The first day of Assamese New Year became so tragic and it's a great loss for the State as a whole. He has been a genuine human being and a fantastic person to work with. We are contemporaries and it is saddening news," said the state's noted film critic and cultural activist Nayan Prasad.

Singer Jyoti Das, who knew Chakravarty for over 40 years, said, "Bidyut was a talent since childhood. We came in contact through Pragati Silpi Sangha and Surya Club and All India Radio, where I worked. He knew how to respect his art, colleagues and elders. He was not only an artiste but a true human soul.''

Kopil Bora who made his debut in movies with Chakravarty's 'Gun Gun Gaane Gaane', said, "Bidyut Chakravarty, my mentor, my guide is no more. The most prolific face of Assamese cinema, his foray into filmmaking marked the beginning of new-age cinema in Assam. 'Raag Biraag', 'Nisidha Nodi', 'Dwaar' are the cult films he directed. 'Gun Gun Gaane Gaane', the film in which I made my debut, is one of the most entertaining Assamese films directed by Bidyut Da. He will be greatly missed by all lovers of Assamese cinema, and especially people who knew him closely. God bless him with eternal peace and happiness.''

"My whole existence in Assamese cinema was defined by him," actress Zerifa Wahid said.

A genial, enthusiastic person who genuinely enjoyed his association with various multifarious activities of arts and culture, Bidyut Chakravarty was also the founder-member of Surjya Club, a leading socio-cultural organisation set up in 1985.

"I have no words to express my grief. He was my first mentor, guru and a friend who never failed me. He called me just a few weeks ago about his plan to shoot a film in Shimla and Agra," producer and actor Rajni Basumatary wrote on Facebook. Bidyut Chakravarty was ready to start work on his new project when he had to be hospitalised.

''He was well-versed with world cinema and brought in a new trend in filmmaking," said actor and theatre artiste Kapil Bora.

From Nemcare Hospital, Bidyut Chakravarty body was taken to his Uzan Bazar riverside residence, then to Rabindra Bhawan in Ambari, Surjya Club near Ambari Rotary and finally to the Nabagraha crematorium, where his last rites were performed.

"Apart from being an actor and director both on stage and films, the dynamism and the vision he had was a little different from his era (the eighties). This uniqueness reflects in his films and personality," said Satyakee D'Com Bhuyan, founder-director of theatre group D'Passion Collective and a member of Surjya Club.


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