When I received the invitation for the premier of one of the highly anticipated Assamese movies of 2014, I was a bit circumspect and was not able to decide- whether I shall go for it or skip it as the premier of one such movie few years back was an absolutely headache. Being an outright optimist, I told myself, ‘This movie is going to be different and certainly a better experience.’ But to my sheer disappointment, I was unable to find logic behind making the film, which actually looked more like a play on the celluloid.
The Assamese film industry is one of the oldest in the country and film production began way back in 1935 when India’s third talkie ‘Joymoti’ was released. But in the later years, the industry lost its glory and presently it is just a shadow of its glorious past.
Most Assamese filmmakers generally complain that Assamese people will enjoy a third grade Hindi movie, but they will not go to watch an Assamese movie. But if asked to justify, I am sure the audience would say in unison- ‘Why should we watch an Assamese movie? The regionalist feeling of being ‘Oxomiya’ is not enough to us pull to the theatres!’
“Today’s Assamese movies lack the art of presentation. No matter how strong a script is, but if it is not executed properly, then nobody will hit the theatres,” said Boloram Das, an NSD graduate from Assam who has recently made his Bollywood debut.
“Even if a movie is made sincerely, then there is very less promotion and the audience are mostly kept in the dark. With no proper marketing and lack of trailers and post production works, less number of people get aware about a movie and thus the maker hardly can recover his investment,” the 30 plus actor further informed, who has also finished dubbing for his first Assamese movie ‘Anatreen’ directed by debutant Manjul Baruah.
National Award winning director Bidyut Chakravarty, who is known for movies like ‘Raag Biraag’ and ‘Dwaar’, feels that even though the makers do have ideas of promotion and running trailers in theatres, the cost involved with it generally push them at the back foot.
“Everything is cost oriented. Even though making trailers has become easier with the advent of digital cameras, but the makers are generally unable to pay the exhibitors the amount they charge for running a 30-50 seconds trailer in the theatres,” he said.
Star power and more
It is often reported that people queue crazily in front of Amitabh Bachchan’s residence in Mumbai just to have his glimpse and in Tamil Nadu people worship Rajnikant as if he is some ‘demigod’. If we compare this with Assam, we can easily feel a difference…the difference of ‘star power’.
“Even though we have actors like Jatin Bora, Kopil Bora or Rabi Sarma, but they lack the charisma. Moreover, they are the power houses of overacting and why on earth will I pay to watch them and their overacting in a multiplex,” questions Boibhob Mazumdar, a short-film director from the State.
Commenting on it, Boloram Das said, “Most of the famed actors of the industry presently work in some mobile theatre or in TV serials. When the audience can see them easily for free or at low cost, they don’t feel the urge to visit a hall and pay some extra bucks. This lack of star attraction is also one of the reasons why the industry is in life support system presently.”
Manash Saikia, whose debut movie ‘North Bank’ won accolades at Prag Cine Awards recently, was very critical about the stalwarts of the industry and said that lack of initiatives taken by the stalwarts has pushed the industry into this dark phase.
“They know something and they keep it to themselves. Even though the new breed knows things, but the knowledge is half baked and because of this we find a lot of flaws in the new films,” he said.
Urmila Mahanta, who debuted with ‘TRP Aru…’ earlier this year has been a regular in the Southern film industry and she feels that that lack of market study and lack of audience has also hampered the growth of Assamese film industry.
“We need literate and intelligent audience,” she remarked.
Like NE has a football club, in the same way why can’t we have a NE film industry and we unite together to make new films. The different state governments should unite and take initiatives in organising meets where ideas can be shared and exchanged among different filmmakers. Instead of walking alone and getting perished, we should start walking united and survive.
(NB: Bidyut Chakravarty was interviewed earlier and the story was published in the March issue of Northeast Today. Some portions have been deducted)