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Last updated : SATURDAY March 21, 2009

Sight and Sound
Pabitra Kumar Deka

Platinum jubilee of
Asomiya cinema

The first Asomiya film 'Joymoti' released in 1935 on 10 March will be approaching 75 years this year after 10 March. So this year will be counted as the Platinum year of Asomiya film Industry. Since the announcement of Lok Sabha elections, government and opposition parties are too absorbed with collecting party tickets and have not given any thought to this great moment of the film Industry. Elections are due soon. So nothing could be expected before its completion.
Since the 21st century, Asomiya cinema has suffered several set backs for the last few years. To overcome those problems and revive the film industry to it's early glory, a new association by the name of 'Cine Revival and Development Association of Assam' has been formed and on 22nd March, an open discussion has been instituted at Jyoti Chitrabon Film studio. We hope, the film fraternity will take forward Asomiya cinema in its 75th year once again.
From Joymati to Aideu
Only the last few years have been very depressing for Asomiya films. However, several points are worth to be noted during the last 75 years.
n From 10th of March, 1935 to this year's 9th of March, a total of 327 Asomiya films have been made. This year, the new film to be released was 'Dhunia Tirutabur' in January. The next film to be released was 'Aideu', censored in 2006 itself, in February 13. The interesting thing to know is that after 74 years since the making of the first Asomiya film 'Joymati', the last film mentioned is based on the life of Aideu Handique herself, who acted in the first Asomiya film.
n Amongst those 327 films, several films haven't unfortunately been released in theatre halls due to varied reasons. Some of them were premiered through Doordarshan Kendra. Some of them even though censored, could not be released. Amongst them are 'Chior', 'Dristi', 'Ranga Modar', 'Tora' etc. The period saw Bodo films like 'Alayaran', 'Khamsilum', 'Hagramao Jinahari', 'Goudan Muga', 'Jiuni Simang' and 'Sangali'. The period also saw a Missing film 'Panoi Jonki' and Karbi films 'Wosobipu' and 'Rangbin'.
n From Bhupen Hazarika's film 'Sakuntala' (1961), some of the films were colour in parts only. The film 'Bhaiti' directed by Kamal Narayan Choudhury in 1972 was the first full length colour film. That was in ORWO colour. 'Ajali Nabou' directed by Nip Barua in 1980 was the first film in Eastman colour.
n In 17th of January, 1968, the then chief Minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha inaugurated the first public sector film studio of India 'Jyoti Chitraban' at Kahilipara.
n In the 50s, the information and Broadcasting Ministry of the central government decided to hold a National competition for Indian films in a bid to promote good cinema. From the beginning, Asomiya films have won awards in the National competition. 'Piyoli Phukan' (1955) directed by Phani Sharma was the first Asomiya film to receive 'President's Certificate of Merit'. 'President's Silver Medal' was won by 'Ronga Police' (1958) directed by Nip Barua.
n The first Asomiya film to be screened in any International Film Festival (Berlin) was 'Puberun' (1959). The film's producer Paji Das and leading heroine Gyanda Kakoti were present at the prestigious festival.
n The first Asomiya film to be selected in the 'Indian Panorama' was 'Sandhyaraag' (1977) directed by Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
n The first Asomiya to win any National Award was Dr. Bhupen Hazarika as the best music director for 'Chameli Memsaab' (1975).
n The first and the only Asomiya film to win the 'Swarnakamal' for Best film at the National Competition is 'Halodhiya Charaye Baodhan Khai' directed by Jahnu Barua (1987).
n The first film in the local dialect of Asom to recieve any National Award (Environment) was the Bodo film 'Rape in the Virgin Forest' (1995) directed by Jwangdao Bodocha.
n The first Asomiya film to win any Internationl award (Locarno) was 'Halodhiya Charaye Baodhan Khai' (1988)
n 'Asomiya Chalachitrar Sa-Pohar' written by Apurba Sarma was the first book to win National Award for 'Best book on Regional Cinema' (2001)
n Malaya Goswami is the first Asomiya Actress to win the National Best Actress award for 'Firingoti' (1991). The first Asomiya working in Hindi films to win the same award was Seema Biswas for 'Bandit Queen' (1995).
n The only person to win the much prestigious 'Dada Saheb Phalke Award' from Asom is Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (1992).
n Women directors of Asom till now are - Suprabha Devi (Nayanmoni, 1984), Kuntala Deka (Kanaklata, 1990), Dr. Santwana Bordoloi (Adajya, 1996), Manju Bora (Baibhab, 1999), Suman Haripriya (Koina Mur Dhunia, 2001), Dipa Bhattacharjya (The 6th Day of Creation, 2005)
n Women music directors of Asom are - Manisha Hazarika (Upapath, 1980), Biju Prabha (Kakadeutar Ghar Jowai : Partly 2002), Rita Barua Das (Kanikar Ramdhenu : Jointly, 2002), Vijaylaxmi (Saru Bowari, 2003), Torali Sarmah (Akasitorar Kothare, 2003), Bibha Bhattacharjya (The 6th Day of Creation : Jointly 2005).
n So far, director Jahnu Barua's films have been selected to the Indian Panorama for the highest number of times (9 films). After Jahnu Barua, Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia's films account for the second highest number of films to be selected to the Indian Panorama (6 films, 1 other in Hindi). Director Manju Bora has 2 films and Dr. Santana Bordoloi has one film being selected to the Panorama.
n Late Nip Barua has made the highest number of films so far, which stands at 14 films. Siba Prasad Thakur had made 11 films, so has Munin Barua with 11, Jahnu Barua with 10 (Hindi films excluded), Dara Ahmed with 9, Chandra Mudoi and Munna Ahmed each has made 8 films. Among women directors, Manju Bora has made 6 films.
n Highest number of films in which music is scored by anyone is 29 films by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika. After that Ramen Barua has directed music for 25 films. Zubin Garg has 18 films so far while Bhupen Uzir has 16 films.

Krishna Goswami’s patriotic songs in a new video album Watan walon sunlo pukar

A dedicated and sincere student of classical music, Krishna Goswami's new video album 'Watan Walon Sunlo Pukar' comprising of heart rending patriotic songs with it's distinct flavour has been released to a wonderful reception by the viewing public. Presented by Auditek, the album consists of five songs. Amongst them, 'Yeh Hamara Hai', 'Tumko Hai Salaam' and 'Vandemataram' are heartfelt patriotic songs that rouses and stirs country men into action. 'Aaj Nahi Lachar' appreciates women's empowerment and work culture. The song 'Haath Jur Main' elucidates integrated feelings of brotherhood and harmony amongst all religions. Initially starting off her musical training at home with her father Troilukya Dutta and mother Amiya Goswami guiding her, Krishna Goswami learnt classical music with Guru Paresh Roy, Ambalika Dutta, Pradip Brahma and Alpana Bannerjee. With her devotion to music and her Advocate husband Gautam Sharma's inspiration, Krishna Goswami's versatility comes through with her clear and perfect renditions whether it's Bhajan, Thungri, Gazal or Rabindra Sangeet. Her VCD album of Bhajans titled 'Prabhu Tere Naam' released last year was much appreciated. 'Watan Walon Sunlo Pukar' has lyrics by Jebin Masoom, Jernail Singh and Nirmali Chakravorty. Music direction by Spandan Chakravorty. Recording and mixing by Bhupen Uzir. The acting, various stock shots, clippings and commentary were appropriately used. Commentary is being done by Kabir. Camera by Biren Das and Ratul. Editing by Dulu Das. Direction by Tarun Das. Auditek has marketed the video album.

Revenge Drama Krodh in Alakananda Theatre
He is angry, very angry! But whom is he angry with? Why is he ploting revenge? Why does it happen at all? Anger seems to be the main theme in writer Samarendra Barman's play 'Krodh' to be staged by Theatre Alakananda for the new sesson (2009-10). After 3 more weeks, Theatre Alakananda of Koniha area under Kamrup District and produced by Alaka Sarmah will wind up its third successful year. According to the producer, the preparations for its fourth year has already been completed so far.
Besides the play 'Krodh', the other plays are Konauj Baishya's romantic drama 'Morom Loga Suwalijoni'. Avtar Singh has written a play based on the backdrop of the Goalporia folk songs called 'Mahut Bandhure'. Another play would be there to be written by one establised writer.
A new romantic pair of video films, TV serials and stage debutants Tushar Pritam and Miss Kalpana have been signed for the new session. Along with them, mobile theatre's established actors Kamala Rabha, Tulsi Saikia, Gakul Kashyap, Manoj Das and others have also been signed. Music by Dilip-Raj while lights designed by Mr. Raju.

Arun Sarma’s English Drama collection
Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner, renowned writer Arun Sarma's collection of three dramas 'Nibaran Bhattacharjya', 'Agnigarh' and 'Aditir Aatmakatha' have been translated into English titled 'Robes of Destiny - A Trilogy'. The book was released in the intimate auditorium of 'Surja', a drama group celebrating 25 years, by noted director Kulada Kumar Bhattacharjya. Dr. Birendra Nath Dutta was the chief guest in the function. The plays have been translated by Suranjana Barua, Debu Choudhury and Jyotiprasad Saikia. Professor and renowned translator Pradip Acharjya has written the forward of the book, published by Sunkon of New Delhi.

Banya Nath’s Arangetam
On 3rd March at Guwahati's Kumar Bhaskar Natya Mandir, Banya Nath, daughter of Bamunimaidan's Kushal Nagar area resident Sisupal Nath and Chandraprabha Nath, performed her first dance recital Arangetam. She is a first year student of Guwahati commerce college and undergoing dance traning at 'Kalabhumi' under dance guru Indira PP Bora.

Holi Album : Range Range Ekakar, Aaj
khele Holi
With a view to popularise traditional Holi songs of Barpeta, Ramen Das, under RD Production, has made two albums of such songs, one in Asomiya colled 'Range Range Ekakar' and one in Hindi 'Aaj Khele Holi'. The two albums were released on 6th March at Guwahati Press Club and at Rhino Club located at Barpeta by Dr. Lakhyahira Das and Akshay Kumar Mishra respectively. Music is composed by Ramen Choudhury. The function was well attended by several presonalities including Ratna Oza and Assam polices senior officer Gunattam Bhuyan.
The album include compositions of Shankardev, Madhabdev, Purusuttam Das, Gakul Pathak, Prasannalal Choudhury, Prahlad Das and Ramen Das. The singers are Debajit Saha, Manuranjan Gogoi, Gunindra Nath Oza, Homen Das, Rupa Bhuya, Chandan Das, Gautam Bayan, Dinesh Das, Ramesh Das, etc. The Hindi numbers are translated by Manuranjan Gogoi and Jahnabi Borthakur Saxena.




A historian’s account
M.V. Kamath

(Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the War Within; Shuja Nawaz; Oxford University Press, Karachi; Shuja Nawaz; page 654; Rs 695)

How many people in India, or, for that matter in Pakistan itself - and that would include intellectuals, political analysts, policy-makers, bureaucrats and even middleman - are fully and truly aware of Pakistan’s political history in the last six decades? It is not that there are not enough books on Pakistan’s turbulent life. Just the list mentioned in the bibliography runs into twelve pages. No can say that Pakistan’s history is a mystery enclosed in an enigma. If that be so, what is so special about Shuja Nawaz’s 655 page tome? Stephen P Cohen, of the Brookings Institution, Washington, himself an authority on Pakistan has praised it as a study as defective as we are likely to get”. Cohen, for all his expertize, is an outsider.
Shuja Nawaz is an insider through and through and writes with first hand knowledge about the Pakistani Army, its leaders and its functioning over six decades, having, as he states, “observed it at close quarters in peace and in war”. Of the way it has functioned, he has no illusions and states in his preface that its influence pervades civil society in ways that are pernicious, though he adds that “large swathes of public opinion seem to be challenging its hold on state power”. Nawaz’s starting point opinion seem to be challenging its hold on state power”. Nawaz’s starting point is the Partition of India and the First Kashmir War during which, he writes, “Pakistan’s higher planning and leadership failed to clearly see the advantage of intervening in Kashmir and gauge the Indian reaction in a manner they could interpret effectively”.
The chapter on why the war failed is highly educative. Nawaz’ conclusion is that “Kashmir became both a reason for not allowing a democratic polity to emerge and a massive financial haemorrhage for the new nation state” with civilian and military leaders struggling “to keep the issue alive enough to further their own careers”. Strangely enough there is little coverage of the involvement of the UN Security Council and specially of the vicious role Britain played after India took the Kashmir issue it the UN. By 1962 Indo-US relations had soured and Nehru’s visit to the US proved to be a disaster from which India has yet to recover. Nawaz speaks of India’s “condescending attitude” towards the US and bow Nehru and president Truman appeared to talk “past each other”. That was to sour Indo-US relations and was the reason, apparently, why Washington stopped talking about huge aid packages to India. It was thereafter that the US started backing Pakistan.
Liaquat Ali made all the right moves to charm Washington. And successive Pakistani leader followed suit even when the US had already made up its mind that Islamabad would turn out to be a good partner. The USP of this volume on Pakistan’s disturbed history is its story objectivity and detachedness. In the event, a great deal of light is thrown on such events as China’s invasion of India and Pakistan’s assessment of India’s military weakness, the Raan of Kutch war which India ‘lost’, leading Pakistan to “a fake sense of victory” and a feeling that it could “win a cake-walk victory on Kashmir”, though in Nawaz’s opinion “both Pakistan and India had very cautious Army Chiefs”. In writing this magnum opus Nawaz had access to US official documents, but just as importantly, he had access to people within the intimate armed forces circles, as for example a man like Ali Yahya Khan, son of president Yahya Khan. It was Ali that provided Nawaz access to his father’s personal files on such matters as Pakistan’s role in the US opening to China- a subject, incidentally Henry Kissinger, then US Secretary of State has dealt with in some detail in his own memoirs. But what Ali Yahya Khan has revealed makes fascinating reading.

The US was always aware of Pakistan’s weakness and its failure to make good use of US financial aid. We learn of the links between the US Embassy in Delhi and some links between the Embassy and some Indian Air Force officials. Information on Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon’s military purchase plans were being leaked. Even an Indian General in the US for medical treatment was having behind-the scene talks with top US officials. At a time when the US was almost veering towards India in 1961 in supplying military aid to it, there was strong protest from Pakistan’s president Ayub Khan, who, in a two paragraph cablegram to president Kennedy reminded him of what he had been assured of partly, namely that “at no time” had the US any intention of giving military aid to India. Pakistan was apparently getting “concerned” about “India’s aggressive posture” in invading Goa, Daman and Diu. But Americans were not impressed with Ayub Khan’s protest. Nawaz quotes a letter from Bobert W Kromer, a member of the US National Security Council (NSC) to McGeorge Bundy, NSC president, which said that strategically “if the US were to choose between India and Pakistan its best bet would be to go with the larger India”. Kromer warned his boss against letting Ayub push “US into a position which runs contrary to our larger interests in the area.” Of Ayub himself, Kromer wrote: “ We have failed to get across to him the limitations, as well as the benefits from our support. Instead he seems to have gotten the felling that we are so attached to him as an ally, that he can pursue his aims with renewed vigour and drag us along with him.” Kromor said Pakistan’s commitment to SEATO and CENTO was only “on paper”. This, and several such revelations provide us with now insights into US-Pakistan and US-India triangular relations hitherto unavailable to India.
What is Nawaz’s own assessment of India? He writes “Externally, Pakistan today faces on its eastern frontiers, a newly emerging Superpower : India. India’s growing economy and armed force and especially its rapid development of a massive force projection capability continues to be a concern... India may well become the regional hegemon that Pakistan...fear”. Aa Nawaz sees it, “Normalisation of ties with India” is essential and a gradual thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations needs to be “enhanced” so both “can bury their historical emotion on their path to their economic and political development”. No wiser words have been said. This is the work of a true historian and not that of a biased Islamist with an axe to grind. Importantly, it is highly informative, and therefore educative, throwing as it does fresh light on the role the US has played in the relations between itself, Pakistan and India. The US obviously had its own reservations about the reliability and use of Pakistan which India failed to exploit. And who is to blamed for that? Jawaharlal Nehru and the likes of VK Krishna Menon?



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