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Barua: The 'Bhupen Hazarika of Assamese cinema'

November 2, 2013


Nov. 02--We catch up with Jahnu Barua, the 'Bhupen Hazarika of Assamese cinema' at ADIFF

JAHNU BARUA, ONE of India's greatest filmmakers, never raises his voice above a whisper. No wonder his movies speak for the most oppressed and traumatised souls of society. Here is a craftsman who rose from obscurity to rub shoulders with the iconic names of world cinema.

At the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival, Barua was put on a different pedestal as one of his classics Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai (The Catastrophe) was screened on October 28. The Assamese movie, a cinematic masterpiece that depicts a poor farmer's heartbreaking struggle against deceit and corruption in rural Assam -- had won the national award in 1988 and two special awards at the Locarno International Film Festival.

The Catastrophe was screened at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival as part of a special programme to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema.

"It's a great honour to be among the five all-time classic Indian movies at the festival. I am really happy, not just for myself, but for the whole region (Assam)," Barua, winner of nine national awards, told this scribe soon after receiving a warm applause from the audience left spellbound by the myriad layers of human emotions that he so mesmerisingly created in the movie.

"I come from a very rural area where cinema wasn't popular. My parents didn't have much knowledge about it either.

"It was only later when I did a course in filmmaking from FTI Pune that they finally began to take interest in cinema. In fact, the first movie I ever made was the first movie my parents ever saw. Aparoopa, my first feature film, was special not because it won the national award, but it introduced my parents to the world of cinema," he said.

Barua's love-affair with movies began after he got a taste of Satyajit Ray's genius. "I admired his work. I was very young, but even then I was attracted to the strength of the medium and not to the glamour that comes with movies. I realised movies can convey a powerful message to the people and society."

There was a glint in his eye when we asked if we could refer to him as 'the Bhupen Hazarika (Assam's most famous musical icon) of Assamese cinema'. "Many people over the years have also told me they find the spirit of Bhupen Hazarika in my movies. He always wrote songs for humanity. That's what my movies are all about. So, yes even I see the similarity," said the Mumbai-based director who was felicitated by the UAE Assam Society.

Barua also made a Hindi movie in 2005. His Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara, starring Anupam Kher and Urmila Matondkar, is about a retired professor's bout with dementia and how he begins to think that he accidently killed Mahatma Gandhi. Kher's sublime performance in the movie won him a special jury award at the National Film Awards.

So will we see him in Bollywood projects again?

"Yes, I am open to doing good Hindi movies. If I like the subject, I will definitely make movies with mainstream stars. But, of course, the subject has to be good as I want to continue making good cinema."


(c)2013 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

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