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The Cinema of Assam: The Odyssey continues                             

When ‘Joymoti’, the first Assamese talkie hit the screen in 1935, the world’s first talkie ‘The Jazz Singer’ (1927) was only eight years old and the first Indian talkie ‘Alam Ara’ (1931) only four….! Unlike the average Indian talkies of the thirties, it stood out in terms of aesthetic and cinematic values. Jyotiprasad Agarwalla’s ‘Joymoti’ was exhilarated with rich visual quality, realistic settings, cinematic acting and creative use of music although not a technically impeccable stuff. While V Shantram’s ‘Amar Jyoti’(1936) is officially hailed as the first woman-centric Indian film, ‘Joymoti’ is more eligible a candidate to be touted as the first women-centric Indian film in that Joymoti the titular character and protagonist not only emerges as both a cynosure and a driving force but also the entire narrative draws its blood from the feminine essence of its protagonist. Likewise recent researches reveal ‘Joymoti’ can boast of being the first Indian political film which saw the light of the day in an age marred by highly rigid censorship law. But the successors of Jyotiprasad lacked the cinematic acumen to sustain his rich legacy. As such, post Jyotiprasad Agarwalla, there was a slump in films with rich cinematic quality. Almost all the films made during the decades after Jytiprasad’s departure were melodramatic historicals and mythologicals redolent of theatrical traditions, mere frail imitations of the contemporary mainstream films of Mumbai and Kolkata. They were palpably poor in cinematic quality, style, structure and aesthetics. Phani Sarmah’s ‘Piyoli Phukon” (1955) was the first film from Assam to have grabbed a National Award( The President’s  Silver Medal). ‘Siraj’(1948), a film based on a socially relevant short story and co-directed by Phani Sarmah and Bishnu Rabha [Read More] [eBook]


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