November 16, 2017

'Ishu' Premieres at Kolkata International Film Fest

A film addressing one the most disturbing social issues in the State, witch-hunting, has been screened in the Indian Languages competition at the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), one of India's most prominent international film festivals.


Set in a remote tribal Rabha village in western Assam bordering Meghalaya's Garo Hills, 'Ishu' is critic-turned-filmmaker Utpal Borpurjari's first and also marks the debut of Kapil Garo, who hails from Sonapur Barosojiya village on the outskirts of Guwahati, in the title role. The film competed with nine other for the top honour.

"The film takes a look at the inhuman practice of 'witch hunting' that is prevalent in parts of Assam as well as some other parts of India, through the eyes of an innocent child whose favourite aunt is branded as a 'witch' by the evil village 'Bej' (quack) who conspires with another aunt to do so," said Borpujari, who won the Swarna Kamal for Best Film Critic at the 50th National Film Awards in 2003.

In the continuing strong relation between Assamese cinema and literature, 'Ishu' is a big screen adaptation of Manikuntala Bhattacharjya's children's novel of the same name.

The film has been produced by Children's Film Society, India (CFSI). It also stars two-time National Award-winning actors Bishnu Kharghoria and Tonthoingambi Leishangthem Devi, along with veterans like Chetana Das and Pratibha Choudhury, and talented young actors like Monuj Borkotoky, Dipika Deka and Nibedita Bharali.

Two other films from the State - 'Maj Rati Kateki' by Santwana Bardoloi and 'Haanduk' (The Hidden Corner) by Jaicheng Jai Dohutia - were screened in the National Award winners' category.

Apart from that, in the 'Unheard India: Rare Language Indian Films' category, 'Songs of the Horned Owl' by Manju Borah in Bodo language and 'Sonam' by Ahsan Majid - which is the first feature made in 'Monpa' dialect of the Indo-Tibetan branch of languages, spoken in the mountainous Himalayan region - were also screened.

In the documentary category, 'Unity, Dignity and Brotherhood, People of Assam and Punjab' by Debajit Kalita was screened.
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