Thursday, September 13, 2012

The bard’s voice flows with the Red River

Abdul Gani

Guwahati: I know, long ago/ the River used to speak/ but when he realised/ every drop of pain/ flows above horizon of words/ he surrendered to silence…”

The voice of the River is the “voice” of Bhupen Hazarika — the “baritone communicative” voice of the legendary balladeer. It is also the voice of Assam. A voice speaking out to the world from the silver screen. Cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika’s last recorded voice will finally reach his countless fans across the world when national award-winning director Bidyut Kotoky’s debut feature film Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xipare is released on September 14.

Sanjay Suri and Victor Banerjee

The film — titled As River Flows in English — has a poem recited by an ailing Bhupen Hazarika in February 2010, a year before he passed away on November 5, 2011 in Mumbai. The poem represents the voice of the river Brahmaputra through the balladeer’s own. “Baritone communicative” was the term used by Russian leader Joseph Stalin to describe the voice of American singer Paul Robeson.

Significantly, the much talked film was inspired by Sanjay Ghosh, an activist who was kidnapped and later killed by Ulfa rebels in 1997 in Majuli. Even before its release, the film grabbed national headlines because of a controversy at the national film awards. The jury members had rejected the film from the awards on the grounds that it was not an Assamese film though the censor certificate clearly indicates it to be one.

“This film has come from the core of my heart and I would be happy if people like it. Viewers will decide about the outcome of my hard work and they will decide whether it’s an Assamese film or not,” said the Mumbai-based director, Kotoky.

The director, who was closely associated with Bhupen Hazarika, is on seventh heaven for having the icon’s voice in the film. “I could not have asked for anything more. Since my childhood I had the desire to work with Bhupen mama. But when I was making the film he was not in a position to direct the music of my film because of his ill-health. But when I visited him with the piece of poetry, he reacted positively. I was lucky enough that he lent his voice,” an emotional Kotoky said. He added, “Who could be a better voice to represent the river than Bhupen mama?”

The film —also made in Hindi —features the same set of acclaimed actors like Victor Banerjee and Sanjay Suri in the leading roles besides Bidita Bag, Raj Zutshi, Nakul Baid and Naveed Aslam.

Preeti Jhangiani and Zubeen Garg, who is also the music director of the film, also appear in cameo roles in the Hindi version. The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), the producing agency of the film, said that the Hindi version too would be released soon. The film traces the story of a missing character — Sridhar Ranjan — in Majuli and his friend’s search for Sridhar. Sanjay Suri is playing a journalist who comes to Majuli to find information of his missing friend.

“I wanted to portray the situation of almost 90 per cent of the people who are stuck in between a conflict zone. Because their voice is never heard outside. Here Sridhar is a metaphor and he can be anybody. I do not know to what extent I would be successful. It’s up to the viewers,” Kotoky further said.

Besides, several renowned names are involved in the film including national award-winning cinematographer Madhu Ambat. Earlier this month, the cultural affairs department of the Maharashtra government organised a special screening of the film to mark the occasion of Bhupen Hazarika’s birth anniversary. Moreover, the film got an overwhelming response from global viewers at the Osian Cinefest film festival held in New Delhi. (Seven Sisters Post)


It is very good movie. Well done Bidyut Kotoky.
Rakesh, Guwahati

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