2017 in flashback: How Assamese cinema progressed this year


By DIPANKAR SARKAR | December 29, 2017

Northeast Indian film making space is no longer at an infant stage. A slew of films made on low as well as big budgets and displaying a profound sense of originality and craft made the region boast of a transition, which completely satisfies the contemporary requirements of excellence in film language both in terms of aesthetic and economy. Here is a list of five films that made a significant contribution in enriching the film making practices of Assam.

Mission China

The release of the Assamese film 'Mission China' has come as a breath of fresh air for the Assamese film industry, which many felt, was at the brink of extinction because of several flops and steep competition from Bollywood. Written and directed by Zubeen Garg, singer-turned-actor-turned-director, the romantic action film has become the biggest blockbuster of the Assamese film industry and was also released in major metropolitan cities across the country.

Local Kung Fu 2

The plot of the film is adapted from William Shakespeare's 'Comedy of Errors' and presents a goofy, charming and cheeky makes a good-natured comment on our preconceived notion of humour. Apart from being the first Assamese movie to have a second installment, it is also the first one in which one of the lead actors is openly homosexual. The film garnered attention nationwide when the actor and director of the film Kenny Basumatary made a video, that got viral, on his protest against theater owners' decision to remove the film in favour of the big budget Baahubali 2, despite the former's houseful run in the state.

Maj Rati Keteki

After a hiatus of 21 years, renowned Assamese filmmaker Santwana Bardoloi, makes her comeback with a film that showcases how past affects the present if not by choice then by chance in the life of a writer. Adil Hussain plays the role of the protagonist Priyendu Hazarika, whose subtle nature of performance coupled with the seamlessly natural dialogue delivery, sets the tone of the film. While the actress Kasavi Sharma and Sulakshana Baruah with their restrained performances take us through their respective emotional arcs.

Sonar Baran Pakhi

Bobby Sarma Baruah's second feature film is a biopic on the iconic folk singer of Assam, Pratima Barua Pandey, who passed away in 2002, and traces the life and times of the artist whose achievements almost single-handedly took to the stage, the radio and films. She was the most well known exponent of the goalpariya folk songs, sung in Rajbongshi — a language that is not Assamese or Bengali, but an mélange of the two and some other local dialects.

Village Rockstars

Rima Das is an independent Assamese filmmaker from India, whose second feature film, Village Rockstars, centers around a 10-year-old village girl, Dhunu (Bhanita Das), on the cusp of puberty. and celebrates the protagonist's passion for adventure and self-discovery, negating the conflict of gender disparity and adjusting with the coarseness of daily life in a village landscape. The film represents a cultural category that is largely ignored by mainstream cinema and heralds a new chapter in the contemporary practice of serious filmmaking in India. There is a serenity to the film, an unhurried quality, as life unfolds at a measured pace.

The writer can be contacted at dipankar.dinesh@gmail.com

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