Debutant filmmaker Nimananda Das is attempting to make a film on Jadav Payeng who is widely known as the ‘Forest Man of India’.
Although several documentaries on Payeng have been made so far by some of the known filmmakers from across the globe, no one has tried to make a feature film on him. Payeng got the global attention around 10 years ago when it was discovered that he single-handedly planted a forest in Majuli.
“Like everyone else, I was also attracted towards him (Payeng) when I learnt about his enormous efforts to create a forest. It’s an incredible story of a superman who loves the earth and the nature. So, I thought of giving a reel life to this story which the world should know,” Das, who has worked with several projects as an assistant director, said.
The film, however, will be based on a novel – ‘Roomyang’ on the forest man by Gobin Kumar Khaund. The name of the film will be the same with an additional tagline ‘Roomyang, The Forest Man’.
“I am working on the script based on the novel and we will start the shooting at the earliest. We were planning to shoot from April but seeing the present situation (outbreak of Coronavirus) it might delay a bit,” Das added.
On March 20, Das also announced the cast and crew for the film. Pabitra Rabha, known for his versatile acting, who has also worked in a few Bollywood films, will be playing the protagonist.
“I am extremely proud for being asked to play the role whom I admire and try to follow. At the same time it’s a huge challenge for me. People not only here (Assam) know him but across India and other parts of the globe. So, I cannot afford to do silly things which would annoy the viewers. I have to be very careful,” said Rabha, an alumnus of National School of Drama (NSD).
Among others, seasoned video editor Kaju and acclaimed cinematographer Nahid Ahmed are also part of the project.
For nearly 40 years, Payeng kept planting trees which now is a lush 1,360-acre forest. He was recently honoured with the 128th Commonwealth Points of Light award, which includes a certificate signed by Queen Elizabeth II, for his exceptional voluntary service to environmental conservation.
In 2015, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.