A Shaky yet Sanguine Start….!

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 was a remarkable feat in that it was a sincere attempt to make a  socially meaningful film and attained reasonable commercial success as well. ‘Puberun”(1959) was the first film from Assam  to have been screened at prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, the Dadasaheb Phalke Awardee, forayed into Indian cinema at a crucial transitional juncture in the 60s when the Indian New Wave Cinema was fast gaining momentum and all set to give a fresh lease of life to the language of cinema in India.(‘Era Baator Sur’, 1956)A  cinephile and film society activist himself, he epitomised a robust optimist and conscientious filmmaker in spirit. To him, a good film is not just a fountain of entertainment but a potent tool of mass education and cultural awareness. Inspired by the Italian Neo-realist films and Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Pachali’, he took to filmmaking and deliberately tried to churn out what is loosely termed as ‘middle cinema’ (*Bimal Ray, Guru Dutt). He grabbed several awards as a filmmaker (Shakuntala, 1961, Pratidwani, 1964, Lotighoti, 1966).His films are
often imbued with the familiar ingredients of a formulaic, run of the mill mainstream entertainer, but then they are always teeming with emotionally vibrant and socio-culturally veracious and relevant themes .His films, however, were utterly deficient in the panache, dexterity, aesthetic finesse of  quality cinematic language. [Read More]

Editorial note prepared by: Pranjal Borah
Associate Professor, Deptt. of English
Dikhowmukh College, Sivasagar and 
Prag Cine Critic Awardee 2017


Sincere thanks to Shri Pranjal Borah sir for sparing valuable time in sharing his study about Assamese cinema from Editors’ Desk in this issue. He is Associate Professor of English department in the Dikhowmukh College, Sivasagar, Assam and receipient of the Prag Cine Critic Award 2017. We hope that his study will help in shaping the road ahead of Assamese cinema effectively.

We acknowledge with thanks to all contributors for their unconditional support and cooperation in making our effort successful this time also.

Vol-5, Issue-4; July-August 2018

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