The first Assamese feature film was Joymati (1935). It was a film of rare visual quality and the first of the only two films that Jyotisprasad Agarwal made. The second film, Indramalota, was a melodrama. Both his films were along the commercial vein.
Other Assamese directors who made a difference in the film industry of Assam are Anwar Husseinand Nip Barua. The latter has made film like "Ranga Police" which is a commercial film. His brother, Brojen Barua made Ito Sito Bohuto (1963), a remarkable comedy film and Dr. Bezbarua in 1969. The latter film was a great success and was made using only local technical resources.
Of Atul Bordoloi, a producer of plays, who moved behind the camera, two films are worth mentioning. Aparajeya (1970) dealt with social issues while Kallol (1978) was a political film set in a community of fishermen of Brahmaputra River. Abdul Majid was first a playwright before becoming a noted actor in 25 films, including 6 made by him. Among these Uttarkal (1990) is a powerful film against the exploitation of the rural world.
Another notable Assamese director is definitely Phani Sarma. Out if his five films Siraj (1948) deserves to be mentioned. It argues in favour of the understanding between Hindus and Muslims. Piyoli Phukan (1955) is an Assamese nationalist film about a local prince by the same name.
Bhupen Hazarika is also one of the popular Assamese directors. He has made around 10 films in his career. Apart from being a director he is also an award winning music director. In 1955 he made Era Bator Sur which illustrates the theme of exploitation in tea plantations. Pratidhwani (1964) is a beautiful film portraying the legend of the people of Khasi tribe, the tragic love of a young shepherd whose beloved is carried off by the local king for serving him.
The nationalist vein is also illustrated among others by Lakshyadhar Choudury through Lachit Barphuykan (1960) and Kuntala Deka with the help of Kanaklata (1989). Other Assamese directors making film on this theme are Deuti Barua, Gauri Barman and Mridul Gupta. Dinesh Gogoi, Sarbeswar Chakraborty, Anil Choudhury, Pulak Gogoi, Siba Prasad Thakur, Hemanta Das, Piyush Kanti Roy and several other Assamese directors have taken the film industry to new heights.
Bhabendranath Saikia, along with Jahnu Barua, is the architect of entry of the Assamese cinema into art house cinema. Sandhya Raag by Bhabendranath Saikia treats with a remarkable sense of realism and of certain ethnographic features, the cultural tensions emanating among migrants from poor and remote villages who have come to work in the city. His next film was Kolahal. It presents a very simple portrait, poignant and credible, of Kiron, a humble woman from a typical Indian small town, totally devoted to her husband. Sarothi, very different from his other films, is bout the obsession of a retired man for constructing his house himself, in the context of erosion of family values. Saikia makes another portrayal of a free woman which is at the same time an interesting look at today's Assam in Abartan. A beautiful stage actress wants to marry her lover despite a contract, which binds her for the whole touring season.
His next film was "Exploration" in 1995. This time the ace Assamese director once more takes up the theme he is fond of, namely the trauma of urbanization of Assam that is still 70% agrarian. In 1997 he came up with Kalsandhya that was produced by NFDC and Doordarshan. This film denounces the political terrorism in Assam showing without pathos several political and common killings at Guwahati, the capital city.
Jahnu Barua is a graduate from Film and Television Institute, Pune. He is one of the brilliant Assamese directors among the contemporary Indian directors and the hope of the Assamese Seventh Art. His films often interpret the connection between politics and social and cultural events with the aim of bringing awareness to the public. To achieve this aim Barua adopts generally a direct style which serves as the level headed development of the narrative. He has made around 13 films. His first film was Aparoopa (11982). It is a masterstroke at the stylistic and technical level. It is a subtle story set in the colonial period in one of the lush tea plantations for which Assam is famous. The story revolves around a young woman, Aparoopa who gives up her education and gets married. The main lead was played by Suhasini Mulay.
But the film that established Barua in Indian and abroad, propelling Assamese cinema on to the map of the art film, is Halodiya Choraye Baodhan Khai (1987). His next directorial venture was Papori (1986). It is a grim melodrama set in the period of massive student demonstrations in Assam for boycotting the order imposed by New Delhi. His other films include Banani (1990), Firingoti (1991), Hkhagoroloi Bohu Door (1994-95), Kuhkhal (1998) and Pokhi (1999).
Sanjeev Hazorika was an assistant to several Assamese directors. His first feature film was Haladhar (1992). It is a delightful tragicomic pastoral made with a small budget. Very different, more poignant and very potent, his second film, Meemansa (1994) narrates the legal, moral and physical ordeal of a young wife of a teacher, Sushila.
Another Assamese director who deserves mention is the female filmmaker, Santwana Bordoloi. Her Assamese film Adajya narrates the story of two widowed women coming together in the family house to live with a more independent daughter-in-law living alone in her own house.
Besides them other notable Assamese directors are Gautam Bora, Rimjhim Barua, Runu Devi, Swargajyoti Barooah, Tapan Das, Tara, Tosodduk Usuf, Trisha Saikia, Upokul Bordoloi, Zubeen Garg, Sarthe Ronghang, Jengdao Bodosa and many other directors who are still flourishing the Assamese Cinema.
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