The first Assamese animated biopic on Srimanta Sankardeva, directed by national award winning director Manju Borah and produced by enigmatic entrepreneurs Sanjiv Narain is all set to hit the screen in 11th November. Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva, the founder of Neo-Vaisnavism who created the backbone of Assamese society and culture more than 500 years back will be enthralling the screen in animated version with script and direction by Manju Borah and animation, animation direction by Dr. Gautam Kumar Das.
The animated biopic has music by highly talented director, national award winning singer Tarali Sharma. The biopic named “Sarbagunakar Srimanta Sankardeva” is ready for release and both the director and producer are optimistic about the response from audience as this is the first time that a full length Assemese animation film hit the screen. The script of the film is written by director Manju Bora herself and Srikar Prasad has done the editing.
“In the movie the birth of the Gurujona till his death phase of Sri Srimanta Sankardeva will be focused in movie. Sarbagunakar Srimanta Sankardeva is the first full length animated feature film in the North Eastern Region. The film is based on the research work of Sri Prabhat Chandra das and the screenplay was done by me,” informed director Manju Borah.
On asking about what inspired her for the project Sarbagunakar Srimanta Sankardeva, she said
“In fact it was not me but Sanjive Narain, the producer of the film, who has conceived the idea of animation. It was in 2013 that Sanjive asked me to direct the film and also to get ready with a script. Though I was happy for the offer but at the same time I was worried since a biopic on Srimanta Sankardeva and that too in animation, was a very challenging task! But slowly I got into it and started to enter the project,” sumps up Manju Borah.
When did you first start making this movie and how long it took to complete the movie?
“ It took almost two and half years to complete the film since we conceived the idea how to go about it,” mentioned Manju Borah.
Being a director of the first Animated movie of this region what type of challenges and obstacles you have faced while making this movie?
“The challenge was to get a proper animator first. My producer has employed two different farms followed by one another from Kolkata. With both the farms I consulted with but without any good result. Though I tried them to introduce with the Gurujona with his literature and cultural, social and spiritual personality and also the Assamese society of that period, they totally failed to realise and understand any of those. I was totally frustrated. Ultimately Sanjive has found somebody from Guwahati itself who could do the job may be! He introduced me to Dr. Gautam Das. Gautam is a self trained animator and somehow he could convince me that we can go ahead together with the project. There were so many other challenges also like drawing the figures of the characters and dubbing their voices convincingly. Even the background score and recording the Borgeets were of great challenge. But with the able hand of music director Tarali Sarma it went on smoothly. The voices for Sankardev and Madhabdev given by none other than Ranjan Bezbaruah who is an Sanskrit expert and singer and filmmaker Rajib Bhattacharya made me very relaxed in the studio. Even the other voices given by various people from various parts of the state were so natural that I think though initially it was a challenge for me to go with the dubbing session I slowly became happy that we have done a good job with those people’s sincerity and respect towards this job,” says national award winning director Manju Borah.
“ Though the subject of this film is not suitable for animation but still I feel that it will open a door to the new generation film makers to put their hand in some good subjects for children and make more animation films,” adds Manju.
What is the budget of the movie? What do you think about its output? Plz say something about the characters?
“The budget of an animated film is naturally higher than a normal film. Though we have tried to keep it in the minimal still we couldn’t compromise in the post production part. Music, FX, DI and even dubbing was a costly affair. I have done the post production in Prasad Films laboratories in Chennai. I don’t know what will be the output of the film financially since there are very limited cinema halls in Assam to release the film. Otherwise for the Assamese community as well as for the viewers from the different parts of the country and abroad I think it will remain as an asset to be proud about.
The characters of the film are all known that we all know since our childhood. We are keeping all the characters as natural as possible including Sankardeva and Madhabdeva.
The most important element of an animated film is the subject and the characters designed for it. The pace of the film is also very important since the viewers of such films are mainly children,” asserted director.
Do you want to share anything interesting that had happened throughout the making of the film?
“It was a very different kind of experience when I have gone through its making. Sometimes I used to get depressed when I couldn’t get to see the development of the film on time as I have expected. But I couldn’t help it since the power position in the city is so poor and horrible that though my animator Gautam would promise me to show the scenes on a particular day for my approval but couldn’t turn up on time! After finishing the film also in the final run of the film I had to face lot of difficulties discovering some minor mistakes and going through it again which is very time consuming for an animated film. I used to become restless,” shares Manju.
What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
The subject, its treatment and the aesthetic quality of a film is very much attracting to me,” informed director Manju.
What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
I have seen and enjoyed Indian and world films since my childhood. If I enjoyed the films made by Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, Rwtic Ghatak and Satyajit Ray. I have also enjoyed watching film made by Nip Barua, Brajen Barua, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Atul Bordoloi, Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia and Jahnu Barua too. I also enjoy European films, classics from Russia, Japan, films from Iran and some other countries. Those films are very powerful not only in their story telling but also with their treatment of the subjects and performance of the artists. I get to know about those countries and the psyche of the people by those films which are really amazing,” says national award winning director.