April 18, 2019

‘Alone in the Combat Zone’: Documentary on Satradhikar Harekrishna Mahanta

Once a land soaked in blood and tears, sucked in the superstition of witchery, absence of the provision of formal education, violence of insurgency and fear for the unfamiliar, Udalguri region of Assam became the chosen battleground for Harekrishna Mahanta, when he came here from Barpeta at the age of fifteen. The silent, secluded and stubborn battle he fought in befriending and transforming the people and the place, inspired by the philanthropic ideals of the 16th century saint-reformer Sankardev, remains as an eloquent criticism of the divisive views and politics of our time.

Armed with a heart capable of disarming humility and unconditional love for the people, a heart molded in the teaching and ideals of Srimanta Sankardev, he began by setting up a Satra from which his philanthropic principles and works radiated, and the region, slowly, but steadily, began to echo the songs he sang as a prayer. He also set up a school beside the Satra, introduced untapped economic resources to the people, and he did all these in the face of violence and mistrust. This 95-year-old Satradhikar, who, in the twilight of his life, still insists on walking on his own, is single-handedly carrying the care and concern of the place and the people.

A new documentary - ‘Alone in the Combat Zone’, that shines light on the noble causes of this  tireless Satradhikar of Udalguri’s Borengajuli Satra, is now being made, which is directed by Monjul Baruah of ‘Kaaneen’ fame, and produced by Gopal Jalan and cultural-activist Moonjyoti Saikia under the banner of ‘Jalan Films’ and ‘Nistha Media’, respectively. Gopal Jalan had earlier produced the short film ‘Liakat’, which was screened at several film festivals, besides bagging the Best Short Film and Best Director awards at the 7th Assam State Film Awards 2018.

‘Alone in the Combat Zone’s script and subtitle is penned by Arambam Debasish Singh, sound designed by Amrit Pritam, editor and DI is Ghanashyam Kalita, cameraman is Prithviraj Dutta, location sound by Rukmajit Baruah and Nayanjyoti Bhuyan, light by Bolen Boro, Pranjit Haloi and Pulak Nath, assistant director is Ronald Husain and production designer is Himen Borah. As informed by Gopal Jalan, the documentary will be premiered on April 21, which will be attended by Harekrishna Mahanta himself among other well-known figures. He also added that the movie has already been sent to various film festivals.

Prantik Deka


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