A REVIVAL OF LOCAL CINEMA:
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Cinema inspires cinema just as literature evolves from literature, and when the inflow is stopped, intellectual growth stagnates. The turbulent times are over and even the rowdiest militant groups don’t have the same impact now that they did a decade ago. But how have we progressed in the past few years? We have opened up malls with multiplexes, yes. We have made it mandatory for cinema halls to show the five Assamese movies we make for at least 100 days a year, yes. But are these long-term plans aimed at reviving a lost culture? What have we done for the people from the nearby towns and villages, who till the mid-1970s, before terror bent their knees, travelled for hours in buses to theatres in Guwahati, just for their dose of entertainment? Did we ever sit back to analyse why mobile theatre (Bhramyaman) is considered a better alternative by rural Assamese than cinema? What have we done to reach the larger audience?
Assam’s literati continues to draw a tired sketch of the Hindi film industry as a vulgarity-spewing monster, and this is amazing considering there’s so much to fix in our own outlook. Perhaps the way forward would be to go back to basics and begin from where it all started. If the ostracising of Aideu Handique represents Assamese cinema’s decline, then the revival should come through inclusiveness – of language, people, and the medium.
The nomination of ‘Village Rockstars’ has sparked a revival of Assamese film-making—one of India's oldest cinematic practices dating back to the 1935 film Joymoti, directed by Assamese cultural icon Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, which was released just four years after India's first film talkie Alam Ara was released.
Chief Minister of BJP Government in Assam, has stated that revival of Local Cinema in Assam will motivate cultural activities. He also stated that government will motivate this industry.
Joymoti wasn't a commercial success, but was noticed for its sharp 'political' and 'rebellious' notes. Since then, the local film industry has struggled to stave off the relentless march of big-money Bollywood and Hollywood productions.
Now, in an interesting twist, Bollywood A-listers seem to be waking up to the Assamese film industry's significance, with Priyanka Chopra's Purple Pebble productions backing Jahnu Borua's film Bhoga Khirikee (Broken Window), which was released in end-October. We are seeing a revival of a local culture that does not need to compete with commercial giants, because the respect for art will take one there.
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