The Assamese film fraternity, which observed the ‘Day of Solidarity: Let’s Join for Assamese Cinema’ on Tuesday, sought to direct government and public attention to the dwindling fortunes of regional cinema. Nearly 100 male and female actors, directors, producers and film technicians gathered at Dighalipukhuri Park here to call for a revival of Assamese cinema.
Eighty years after its establishment, Assamese cinema finds itself floundering. The first Assamese feature film, ‘Joymoti’, which released on March 10, 1935, saw auteur and Assam’s renaissance man Jyoti Prasad Agarwala establish the Assamese film industry. Over the next few decades, Assamese cinema went on to garner respect and acclaim from the masses and critics alike.
In the past decade or so, however, its fortunes have dwindled, with the shift in viewers’ taste, the closure of single-hall theatres in rural and urban pockets and the apathy of the state government being blamed.
“It’s time that the fraternity introspects and realizes its errors. The audience expects more from regional cinema. A comparison is always drawn between Assamese films and mainstream Bollywood movies. A viewer wants Bollywood elements in Assamese films. We have to think of the budget as well,” said Munin Barua, director of ‘Ramdhenu’, the last Assamese blockbuster.
A total of 23 films were produced and released last year. Most of them failed at the box office, while the remaining barely broke even. Six Assamese films have released this year and seven more are in the offing.
“We need to preserve Assamese cinema. We as a society are also to be blamed for the lost glory of Assamese cinema,” said Chetana Das, veteran comedienne. “The industry used to employ so many people, but, now, many have been left jobless. The situation calls for action. We need a change in the tax policy as well,” said actor Barsha Rani Bishaya.
Due to Assamese cinema’s fading glory, many actors have shifted their allegiance to mobile theatre. Technicians and make-up artists have followed suit.
The Union minister of sports and youth affairs, Sarbananda Sonowal, who was present at the event, offered his help. “We need to stay united. I am here to offer my support. We should work together to revive regional cinema,” said Sonowal.