Joymoti by Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla marked the beginning of the Assamese film industry in 1935. Since then, the Industry has been evolving, albeit at a slow pace. The period between 1959 and 1969 is regarded as the ‘golden age’ of Assamese Cinema. 25 movies were made during this time, of which 9 received National Awards. Kamal Choudhury’s Bhaitee (1972) was the first Assamese film in colour, which gave a new direction to the film making industry of Assam.
The film industry has received classic Assamese movies from renowned writers and directors, such as Bhabendra Nath Saikia, JahnuBarua, Parvati Prasad Barua, and Rohini Kumar Baruah.
Bhabendra Nath Saikia, an acclaimed writer, directed a string of socially stimulating, outstanding movies in the 1970s and 1980s. Sandhya Raag, Anirban, Agnisnan, Sarothi, Kolahol, Abartaan, Itihass and Kaal Hondhya, are some of his most notable films.
With films including Aparoopa, Papori, Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khay, Bonani, Firingoti and Khagoroloi Bohu Dur, another Assamese cinema luminary, Jahnu Barua established himself as a globally feted director. Halodhiya Choraye Baodhan Khay won the Best Film National Award in 1987.
The Regional Government Film and Television Institute (formerly known as Jyoti Chitraban Film & Television Institute) is the only government-owned Film Institute in Northeast India. It is located in Kahilipara, Guwahati, and is named after the first Assamese Film Director and Producer—Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla.
Label: Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla during Joymoti production
The first film studio was set up in 1961 by the Government of Assam, under the recommendation of famous Assamese singer and film-maker, Bhupen Hazarika and noted singer, dancer, writer and social reformer, Bishnu Prasad Rabha. Later in 1996, Arnab Jan Deka, through the top Assamese daily, Dainik Assam, moved a formal proposal to establish a Film Institute in the name of the founder of Assamese Cinema at the same Jyoti Chitraban Studio. Finally, 1999, Jyoti Chitraban Film and Television Institute was established.
Label: Phani Sarma, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala and Bishnu Rabha
The studio is built on approx. 30 acre of land and has released more than 200 films till date. It also offers various film-related courses, which include Diploma in Audiography and Sound Engineering; Diploma in Motion Picture Photography; Diploma in Editing Motion Picture and Certificate in Applied Acting.
The Assamese film industry may have witnessed a sterile phase for some years, but new talents and ideas have made it possible to bring Assamese cinema back to the race. While on one hand Assamese short film Tez was selected for screening at the 69th Cannes International Film Festival 2016, on the other, actors and actresses from the Northeastern region are slowly making a mark in Bollywood movies. Over decades, this industry has been successfully educating its people about the history, and has instilled strong values and traditions into the young generation.
The industry has been able to make a global stand and has brought to light various social issues. Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Hipare, a film about the prevailing extremist activities in Majuli and the negligence of the government towards the people; Shringkhal, a movie about widow remarriages; Mon Jai, a movie that explores ethical values confronting the youth; Jetuka Pator Dore, a movie portraying a heart warming picture of the rural landscape with an emphasis on the need for self-reliance in the process of development, are some examples of the new-age thinkers, actors and writers who has raised the bar for the Assamese Movie Industry.