Year 2018 will be forever remembered for its contribution to Assamese cinema. The year brought forth positive and inspiring moments besides confirming the fact that a healthy environment for cinema is finally taking shape in Assam. Along with the Oscar buzz and various year-end film festivals, another important development was the publication of a first-of-its-kind quarterly film journal in Assamese, Bixoy Cinema. The year also witnessed Rima Das’s Bulbul Can Sing winning the top prize at the 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.
With the New Year and some interesting titles awaiting their release, it is hoped that the winning streak of Assamese cinema will continue far and wide in 2019. The first release of 2019, Biswajit Kalita’s Bhaworiya has already hit the screens. This will be followed by Dhruva J Bordoloi’s Kokaidew Bindaas which is scheduled for a March release. The movie focuses on the story of two brothers and their aspirations and views on love, life and marriage. Kokaidew Bindaas stars Gunjan Bhardwaj, Manoj Borkotoky, Alishmita Goswami, Junu Nath, Mintu Baruah and Suren Mahanta among others. The music department is helmed by Manas Robin who will return to movies after a long gap.
Another Assamese film lined up for release is Astitwa by debutant director Mirza Arif Hazarika. Produced by Nazim Ahmed, Astitwa tells the story of a common Assamese man and his struggles for existence. The multi-star cast film is led by Bibhuti Bhusan Hazarika, Dinesh Das, Brojen Bora, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Rajib Kro, etc.
The month of March will see the release of the much awaited film – Bornodi Bhotiyai (In Love, By the River) by debutant director Anupam Kaushik Borah. Dealing with the hopes, aspirations and frustrations, of the youth, the film presents a vivid and enduring re-telling of the often ignored side of life in Majuli. The film, which had its premiere at the 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, features a talented pool of actors led by Dorothi Bhardwaj, Sonmoni Sarma, Kaushik Nath, Himanshu Gogoi, Rajib Nath, Kenny D Basumatary.
Majuli is also the heart of Amitabh Bora’s Janaknandini. The film will showcase the Sattriya culture of Majuli through the story of a dancer. The key roles are played by Gunjan Bhardwaj, Nandini Kashyap, Arun Nath and Madhurima Choudhury.
The month of March will also witness the release of Monjul Baruah’s second feature film Kaaneen – A Secret Search. The movie is based on a novel by Rita Choudhury which follows the story of a high profile police officer’s wife and the search for her abandoned son. The winner of the Silver Camera Award at the 2nd Guwahati International Film Festival, Kaaneen features Jahanara Begum in the lead role and is accompanied by Baharul Islam, Partha Hazarika, Kasvi Sharma, Rahul Gautam Sharma, Purnima Saikia, etc.
Two big budget mass entertainers, Jatin Bora’s Ratnakar and Zubeen Garg’s Kanchenjunga are also gearing up for release probably in the middle of 2019. Starring Barsha Rani Bishaya, Jatin Bora, Nishita Goswami and Bishnu Khargariya, Ratnakar is the depiction of three different stages of a man’s life and the endearing relationship he shares with his little daughter.
On the other hand, Kanchenjunga focuses on an ambitious young guy’s fight against the system. Both the films are dream projects of their respective makers and are expected to take the box office by storm upon release.
Another film awaiting its theatrical release is national award winner Jahnu Barua’s Bhoga Khiriki (Broken Window) which had its premiere at the 2nd Guwahati International Film Festival last year. Starring Zerifa Wahid, Seema Biswas, Joy Kashyap and Kasvi Sharma, Bhoga Khiriki is produced by Priyanka Chopra and Madhu Chopra along with Shahnaab Alam.
Also waiting release is film critic turned director, Utpal Borpujari’s Ishu, which won the Best Feature Film in Assamese Award at the 65th National Film Awards. Adapted from renowned Assamese writer Manikuntala Bhattacharjya’s novel, Ishu sheds light on superstitions like witch hunting prevalent in many parts of Assam, through the eyes of an innocent child.
If we are lucky enough we will also get to see Rima Das’s coming-of-age story about a teenager, Bulbul Can Sing which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018 and Arup Manna’s Golden Camera winner at the 2nd Guwahati International Film Festival, Aamrityu (The Quest).
Among other adaptations of dramas and novels, two of distinguished littérateur Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi’s acclaimed works will find its way to the big screen – Bishkanyar Deshot and Mishing. Award winning filmmaker Manju Borah’s Bishkanyar Deshot (In the Land of Poisonous Women) and Bobby Sharma Baruah’s Mishing (The Apparition) which competed at the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival and 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala will maintain the presence of our regional cinema in the festival circuit around the world.
An anthology film, Ji Golpor Sesh Nai, based on the works of Honoré de Balzac, Guy de Maupassant and Homen Borgohain and directed by Utpal Datta, Prodyut Kumar Deka and Prasant Saikia respectively is scheduled for release in 2019. It stars Himangshu Prasad Das, Kalpana kalita, Hiranya Das, Hemanta Debnath, Debika Priyam, Nandini Boruah, etc and the music of the film has been composed by late Kishor Giri.
After the national award winning Kothanodi, Bhaskar Hazarika is all set to return with an uncanny story of a relationship between a married woman and a young college student. Aamis received the Facebook Award in the Film Bazaar Recommends section at the 12th National Film Development Corporation Film Bazaar event of the 49th International Film Festival of India. Produced by Poonam Deol and Shyam Bora Aamis features new talents Lima Das and Arghadeep Barua.
After offering two commercial entertainers, Biswajeet Bora’s upcoming Phehujali (Early Dawn) deals with a real life story which depicts the travails of an elderly woman stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. Suren Mahanta, Moni Borah, and Baharul Islam have acted as the leads in this dark tragedy.
National award winner for Basundhara (The Earth), Hiren Bora’s next feature Seema – The Story Untold is based on the Chinese aggression of 1962 and deals with the agony of evacuation in Tezpur. The ensemble cast includes George Baker, Nipon Goswami , Jahanara Begam , Arun Nath,etc.
Some other releases of 2019 and works in progress are – Ranjit Hazarika’s Artonad, Arunjit Borah’s Midnight Song, Baharul Islam’s The Seventh String, Rhituraj Dutta’s Mayabini, Pranab Vivek’s Ulka, Mani Sinha’s Rhino Express, Bhashkar Kiran Bora’s Shrutaxwini which is an adaptation of Syed Abdul Malik’s novel, Shankar Baruah’s Rongeen where a small guy with the help of a rapper takes on a big guy in a by-election, Suvrat Kakoti’s Raghupati which is written by Ravi Sarma and has Amrita Gogoi, Arun Nath and Ravi Sarma in the lead, Dalim Pathak’s Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhabdeb, which is the second full fledged Assamese animation movie, Nayan Nilim starrer Bandhu, Khanjan Kishor Nath’s Chor, Pranab Kumar Barman’s The Firing Range, Himangshu Sarma’s Pratyuttar, Pranabjyoti Bharali’s Epar Xipaar starring Udayan Duarah and Amrita Gogoi, Tilak Sharma’s The Secret Forest, Rubul Das’s Footpathor Hero.