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Fascination for the docu format

Gautam Bora's ardent love for documentary film-making continues unabated though his forays into the arena of feature films have been rare. MALEEHA RAGHAVIAH finds out why in this interview.

FILM-MAKER Gautam Bora is different. He would prefer not to rest on past laurels nor deviate from the unbeaten track that he has traversed ever since he launched himself into the world of documentaries more than two decades ago. Gautam is the same old person one had seen in 1997.

The film-maker is in the thick of making a documentary on the North East — the land, the people, their culture. He is enamoured with the theme at hand — a docu-film on the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.

The documentary would dwell on the mysticism of tantric Buddhism that revolves round the monastery. It is an attempt to document the ascetic, monastic aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, the assimilation of Lamas with Monpa lifestyle.

"I am of the view that the visual media has not been projecting the ground realities in the North East or in Kashmir for that matter. What is brought out is only propagative. Official guidelines do not chalk out the objectives in a realistic way.

My mission is exploring life through documentaries — social realities, the inherent tolerance, self-sustaining mechanisms and issues which need to be explored and exposed to the public. It would be a `travel into the unknown'.

The five years have not dimmed his enthusiasm even a little. It has only made the film-maker more mature. He is philosophical as he speaks of his new venture.

"I am enamoured with documentaries, though I am not averse to feature films. It is primarily the high cost of feature film-making which keeps me away from them. In documentary making there is so much to portray, which is not being done ... at least in the case of the North East."

"Sons of Abotani: The Misings", won him the Best Documentary of the Country Award. It unwraps the oral history, folklore, songs, and tales of the `tribe of the Brahmaputra Valley'.

It was the Karbi film, "Wosobipo" (Cuckoo's Call) which secured the Indira Gandhi Award for the Best First Film of a new director, for Bora, in 1989. Bora considers this film his best work so far. "Wosobipo" was the lone Indian entry at the 41st International Film Festival in Berlin in 1991, where it earned rave reviews.

Bora's entry into the feature film arena was as a scriptwriter and associate director in Dhiru Bhuyan's "Pratham Ragini" and as assistant director in Bhaben Saikia's "Agnisnan", both Rajat Kamal winners.

The recent video film directed for the Kendra Sahitya Akademi, "Poet at the Crossroads", on Assamese poet Navakanta Barua, the documentary on river Brahmaputra and another on traditional silk weaving in Sualkuchi, are some of his latest works.

"Maybe, I would do a film on the Nagas, a society in transit. This is a challenging topic I have been dreaming about for long,'' muses Bora.

Bora is not involved in theatre but is fascinated by photography, which attracted him to celluloid. He says that the visual medium is challenging and one could go on creating images, to which there is no limit. It means portraying life vividly and honestly.

In his case it is his training at the German Film Institute that has made him sensitive to the problems of the people in his own State and region, besides helping him to equip himself an as artiste who could experiment and develop new perceptions, he adds.

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