Films are considered to be the highest art form. The origin of Assamese cinema can be traced back to the year 1935. The first Assamese film which marked the beginning of Assamese film industry is “JOYMOTI”
by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala in the year 1935 under the banner of Chitralekha Movietone. Jyoti Prasad Agarwala was a distinguised poet, playwright, composer and freedom fighter.
It is still said that because of his dreams and imagination the Assamese film industry came into existence. The film, completed with a budget of Rupees Sixty thousand and was released on March10th, 1935. The picture failed miserably. It is unfortunate that like so many early Indian films , the negatives and complete prints of Joymati are missing.
Even after the failure of his first film, Jyoti Prasad made another film after a lapse of two years, named “Indramalati(1939)”. This was his last film. After the death of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, the film industry at that time faced a downfall but things slowly changed. But things changed with the onset of war, Taking advantage of this, the Late Rohini Kr. Baruah made a film on a relevant historical topic called “Manomati (1941)”. It was followed by films like Parvati Baruah’s Rupahi (1946), Kamal Narayan choudhury’s Badan Barphukan (1947), Phani Sharma’s Sjiraj, Asit Sen’s Biplabi, Prabin Phukan’s Parghat Suresh Goswami’s Runumi (1952). But the most remarkable film of the 1950s was Piyali Phukan which went on to win a National award. In 1955, a new talent Nip Barua made his directorial debut with Smrit Paras. His subsequent films Mak Aaru Moram and Ranga Police bagged many state awards and the silver medal at the national level. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika also produced and directed his first film Era Batur Sur.
The evolving era of Assamese Cinema
The age of 1950’s
“Piyali Phukan”(1955) by Phani Sharma was the most remarkable movie during that era. The film won the Certificate of Merit at the 3rd National Film Award ceremony in the same year. “Maak Aru Morom”(1957) by Brajen Barua was another well-known movie during that era. This film in the year 1957 won the Certificate of Merit for Second Best Feature Film. Nip Barua’s “Ronga Police”(1958) won the President’s Silver Medal for Best Feature Film in the year 1958. “Puberun” was another remarkable film which was awarded with the President’s Silver Medal for Best Feature Film in the year 1959.
The Age of 1960’s
In 1961, Shakuntala by Kamrup Chitra and Bhupen Hazarika, won the President’s Silver Medal for Best Feature Film . In 1962, the film Tezimola by Anwar Hussain, won theCertificate of Merit for the Best Feature Film. In 1963 ,President’s Silver Medal for Best Feature Film was won by the film Maniram Devan by Apurba Chowdhury, S. Chakravarty. In 1964’s film Pratidhwani by Kamrup Chitra and Dr. Bhupen Hazarika by won the President’s Silver Medal for Best Feature Film.
Dr. Bezbarooah by Brajen Baruah won the Best Feature Film award in the year 1969.
The Age of 1970’s
In 1972, Upaja Sonar Maati by Brajen Barua, won the Best Feature Film in Assamese In 1973, Mamta by Nalin Dowerah, Prafulla Dutta, Shiba Thakur, won the Feature Film in Assamese In 1975, Chameli Memsaab by Seuj Bolechari Santha, Abdul Majid, won the Best Feature Film in Assamese & Best Music Direction by Dr.Bhupen Hazarika. In 1977, Sandhyarag by Bhabendra Nath Saikia, won the Best Feature Film in Assamese
The Age of 1980’s
Anirban by Preeti Saikia, Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
Aparoopa by Jahnu Barua.
Alokar Ahban by Do-Re-Me Films, Kamal Hazarika .
Son Maina by R. B. Mehta, M. P. N. Nair, Shiv Prasad Thakur .
Agnisnaan by Bhabendra Nath Saikia .
Baan by Do-Re-Me Films, Charu Kamal Hazarika .
Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai by Sailadhar Barua, Jahnu Barua.
Pratham Ragini by S. N. Bora, Dhiru Bhuyan.
Kolahal by Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
Bonani by Purbanchal Film, Jahnu Barua.
The Age of 1990’s
Jooj by Bipul Baruah, Hemen Das.
Natun Asha by Beauty Sabhapandit, Arup Borthakur.
Haladhar by Sanjeev Hazorika, Geeti Barua and Dwijen Hazorika.
Firingoti by Sailadhar Baruah, Jahnu Barua.
Sarothi by Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
Railor Alir Dubori Ban by Pulak Gogoi.
Abartan by Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
Xagoroloi Bohudoor by Sailadhar Baruah, Jahnu Barua.
Itihaas by Leena Bora, Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
Rag Birag by Bidyut Chakraborty, Bhabhen Baruah and Khanin Baruah.
Kuhkal & Pokhi by Jahnu Barua.
The Age of 2000’s
Asoumiya Chalachitrar Chaa-Pohar by Apurba Sarma, Jnan Pujari.
Konikar Ramdhenu by Sailadhar Baruah, Jahnu Barua.
Tora by Children’s Film Society, Jahnu Barua.
Dinabandhoo Krishna Roy, Munin Barua.
Bhraimoman Theatre by Bidyut Kotoky.
Aaideu by Nabomika Borthakur, Arup Manna .
Mon Jaai by M. Maniram.
Basundhara by Hiren Bora.
Jetuka Pator Dore by Md. Noorul Sultan, Jadumoni Dutta.
BHUPEN HAZARIKA’s CONTRIBUTION….
Bhupen Hazarika directed seven Assamese films:-
* Era Bator Sur(1956)
* Chikmik Bijuli(1969)
* Mon Projapaati(1979)
Downfall of Assamese Cinema
Assamese Cinema faced a tremendous downfall due to many reasons like lack of cinema halls, piracy, lack of government support, lack of consciousness among the people of the state, etc.
With the coming of VCD culture and lack of big budget movies, small budget VCD movies started
to be produced. The producers come up with sequels of the respective VCD films every year which is also one of the reason of the downfall of Assamese cinema. Short duration VCD film attracted a huge number of audience. The sequel culture for a period of time has prevented the film makers from producing feature films. Digitalization has lead to the VCD culture which in turn gave rise to piracy and low quality products.
Threats for Assamese Cinema:
Lack of proper content.
Lack of good script.
Lack of infrastructure.
Lack of Producers.
Lack of Capital support by Government.
Lack of interest by audience.
Bollywood cinema over-ruling Assamese Cinema.
Lack of publicity campaings.
Overcoming Threats in Assamese Cinema:
Development of proper and strong content Stories and script should match the market standards Availability of infrastructure like halls and theaters should be abundant. Markets should have enough space to generate funds .The Government should provide capital support by implementing schemes to support directors. There should be awareness campaigns in order to generate and develop interest amongst audience for Assamese Cinema.
Assamese Cinema should be screened over Bollywood cinema in theaters across the state. Publicity campaigns should be carried out to increase popularity of any upcoming Assamese film amongst the audience.
Revival of Assamese Commercial Film
“Ramdhenu” (2011) by Munin Baruah marked the revival of the Assamese Main stream cinema, which was seen to be fully overpowered by the VCD films.
Ramdhenu can be given a special mention in terms of commercial films. It brought a new hope to the 75 year old Assamese film industry and took it to a new horizon
After Ramdhenu, the list has seen quiet a number of good Assamese cinemas. They have evolved well in terms of Direction, technology, scripts, camera angles, etc. They have been successfully running and receiving response from audience and have been able to retrieve the returns on investments “Ramdhenu” brought a new hope to the 75 year old Assamese film industry and took it to a new horizon.
Some of the latest Assamese films are:-
* Jetuka Pator Dore(2011)
* Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xipare(2012)
* Bakor Putek(2012)
* Borolar Ghor(2012)
* Jilmil Junak(2014)
* Rodor Sithi(2014)
Through this article we have tried to walk through the different stages of Assamese cinema, its birth, growth, changing trend, its downfall and its rise in the present time with a new look. And if we talk of its downfall, the main reason behind it is the shutdown of many cinema halls and the coming of the piracy business which affected the industry severely. The journey of Assamese cinema has seen many ups and downs but yet the contribution made in the society both culturally and socially which makes it dear to the audience and the mass as a whole.