5 movies that sparked a revival of Assamese Film Industry in 2018
The Assamese entertainment industry is finally enjoying a stint of success. Be it actors, filmmakers, lyricists or musicians – people from Assam are making a name internationally for their quality work this year. Specifically, the Assamese film industry thrived beautifully and we were successful in producing quality movies that are reaching global audiences, being screened at international film festivals and receiving innumerous awards.
Interestingly, while the Assamese film industry had struggled to make its mark amidst the big-money Bollywood and Tollywood productions for decades, there seems to be a new surge of enthusiasm around Assamese cinema now, making Bollywood A-listers to invest in them (case in point: Priyanka Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures producing Jahnu Barua’s Bhoga Khirikee that premiered in October this year).
Here's the thing about Assamese cinema - they're simple and beautiful. Our filmmakers do not need big budgets to make artistic and realistic films that tell a story to one and all.
As we bid goodbye to 2018, G Plus looks back on the Assamese films from the bygone year that were successful in making a global impact!
1. Village Rockstars by Rima Das - India’s official nomination for the Oscars in the ‘Foreign Language Film’ category, Village Rockstars has achieved heights that very few Assamese movies could. It has put Assamese cinema on the world map, once again!
The film, which had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and India premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival 2018, has been screened in more than 70 international and national film festivals and won 44 awards, including four national awards - Best Feature Film Award along with Best Child Artist Award for lead actress Bhanita Das, Best Audiography Award for Ambient Sound and Best Editing Award for Rima Das.
Set in Das’s own village Chhaygaon in Assam, Village Rockstars is the story of poor but amazing children who live a fun-filled life. It revolves around the lives of a little village girl, Dhunu, who dreams to have a real guitar and forms a music band with her friends in the village. The film narrates the day to day struggles of common villagers and the way they deal with poverty and natural disasters. In the film, Dhunu’s family that consists of her widowed mother Basanti and her elder brother Manabendra represents the life of the villagers.
2. Ishu by Utpal Borpujari - The feature film debut of critic-turned-filmmaker Utpal Borpujari, Ishu is a national award winning Assamese film. In the same year that Village Rockstars won the national film award, Ishu won the award for the Best Assamese Film from the President of India.
The film is a big screen adaptation of Manikuntala Bhattacharjya’s children’s novel with the same name. It addresses one the most disturbing social issues in the state - witch-hunting. The film, which marks the screen debut of Kapil Garo from Sonapur Barosojiya village on the outskirts of Guwahati in the title role, has travelled to several places and won many accolades in the past.
The film has been screened at multiple national as well as international film festivals, including New York Indian Film Festival, Toulouse Indian Film Festival in France, Bengaluru International Film Festival, Kolkata International Film Festival and International Children's Film Festival.
3. Xhoixobote Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields) by Bidyut Kokoty - Assamese film Xhoihobote Dhemalite, which portrays children growing up in violent times and witnessing brutality around them, has made as much impact in the United States as it did in India. The film not only released commercially in US, it also got nominated in eight categories at the Love International Film Festival (LIFF) in Los Angeles, US.
Xhoixoboite Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields) has been winning awards and acclamations world-wide. In 2017, it won the Best Foreign Film Award at the Hollywood International Cine Fest. Earlier, the film was appreciated at the screening at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. It was also screened at the Catoosa Country Film Festival, USA. In 2018, it released at the Cine Grand Cinema Fremont (California) and Cine Grand New Jersey. It also bagged five nominations at the Treasure Coast International Film Festival (TCIFF), Florida - best film, best director and best screenplay, best editing (Pallavi Kotoky) and best cinematography (Satya Prakash Rath).
Semi autobiographical in nature, Xhoixobote Dhemalite is inspired by true incidents from director Bidyut Kotoky's life and features among others, actors like Victor Banerjee, Dipannita Sharma, Nakul Vaid, Naved Aslam, Nipon Goswami and Nikumoni Barua.
4. Bulbul Can Sing by Rima Das - Rima Das' latest movie Bulbul Can Sing recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in the competition segment 'Contemporary World Cinema' where it received huge acclaims.
Bulbul Can Sing, according to its official synopsis, is a visceral coming-of-age drama about a teenage girl, Bulbul, living in a village in Assam, fighting her way through love and loss as she figures out who she really is. The writer-director-producer has made the film independently, in the same way as her earlier film Village Rockstars.
Not much after its international premiere, Bulbul Can Sing made its Indian premiere at the Jio MAMI Film Festival in Mumbai, where it was screened in the Indian Contemporary section.
5. Alifa by Deep Choudhury - Deep Choudhury’s national film award-winning Alifa, which was released in March 2018, carries the story of a couple and their daughter Alifa as they had lost their home to soil erosion by the Brahmaputra River and settled down in Guwahati for their livelihood.
Although set entirely in Assam and in ways more than one a reflection of Assam’s several complex socio-economic questions, Alifa is officially listed as a Bengali film.
The film premiered at 22nd Kolkata International Film Festival in at Kolkata, West Bengal in November 2016 and has since been screened at multiple film festivals across the country, including the Ottawa Indian Film Festival Awards 2017 held in Canada.
Casting some of the biggest names in Indian Cinema including Baharul Islam, Victor Banerjee Prasun Gain and Jaya Seal Ghosh, the film has gained critical acclamation worldwide. A national news website has described Alifa as "one of the bravest films to have come out of Assam in recent times.”