Utpal Dutta pays tribute to Pabitra Kumar Deka, who started the first Assamese professional film journal, through his short film “By-lane 2”

Utpal Dutta, a National Award winning film critic, is known primarily for his books, plays and radio shows. He has now directed an impressionistic 10-minute short film, “By-lane 2”, which is his first ever independent work as a director. The film is based on the works of Pabitra Kumar Deka.

Deka was a senior journalist as well as a creative writer and cultural activist. Professional film journalism started in Assam due to his efforts and initiative.

Deka started the first Assamese professionally managed film journal. “It was not only a film journal. Rather, it can be called a cultural journal as it covered plays, music, theatre. The main contribution of this journal was that he wanted to connect Assam with the other world as he believed in a wider vision and it was reflected in all his works,” says Dutta.

“I came to the city Guwahati. I met Pabitra Kumar Deka and suddenly my cultural interest developed with him, in his library and archive. It is purely my interpretation on Pabitra Kumar Deka, as I know him, as I want to remember him. I started film writing being inspired by him and his works as he is like a guru to me,” said Dutta. Swapnanil Baruah, a cultural activist, has narrated some portions of the film. “I have taken some interesting testimonials from his life and presented them in a dramatic way,” the director adds.

As a critic, he thinks a film must be entertaining. “I wish to see Indian films from Indian perspective and not from a Western one. Their culture is different, ours is different. We have a rich cultural heritage and we must see a work of art keeping in mind our tradition.”

Speaking of regional films, Dutta, who has also acted in a film called “Suryasta”, says, “Generally regional films are at a crossroads. They will copy Bhojpuri style, Mumbai style but they’ve lost their regional aspect so they’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Pabitra Kumar Deka resided in a very small by-lane but his works took him to the cultural highway. “It was he who showed the way to the wide world of creativity and cultural happenings world over, making that small lane of his a cultural highway,” says Dutta. One of the most renowned names in the field of cinema and theatre journalism, Pabitra Kumar Deka has left behind heaps of knowledge and hopefully film journalism will benefit from it in the years to come.