Cinema

In a new cask

Director Anshuman Barua. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Growing up by the river Brahmaputra, however young or old you are, it is certain that you would have heard, if not hummed, these peppy film songs — “Ki naam di matim tumak” and “Moina kun bidhatai hajile”. Set to music by Ramen Barua, these numbers though created over 40 years ago, are still a rage in Assamese popular singing. They belong to “Dr. Bezbaruah”, the first Assamese thriller directed by the inimitable Brajen Barua. A rousing success that it was then, the film laid the foundation of commercial cinema in the Assamese film industry. Also for the first time with “Dr. Bezbaruah”, the storyline in an Assamese film took a detour from presenting the simple life of the village folk. Yet another first that came with this '60s film was that its indoor and outdoor shooting was done across various locations of Assam.

Set for resurrection

Today, Brajen Barua is no more but “Dr. Bezbaruah” is all set for a resurrection. Brajen Barua's nephew, young filmmaker Anshuman Barua is remaking the film in Hindi with the title “Shivam”. The film, “likely to be released at the end of the year”, has a mixed cast picked from Assamese and Hindi film industry. Calling it “a recreation”, Mumbai-based Anshuman sets straight the argument behind embarking on this journey.

“I am not very interested in this remake business but I can't deny the fact that I have made a version of a film that already exists. It was such a successful film both commercially and artistically that I didn't really want to mess around with it. But today, if someone from my generation wants to see the film there's nothing readily available. Only the songs are in the market thanks to HMV.” The director says he couldn't have “let such a beautiful piece of cinema get lost in time.”

“As to why I made it in Hindi, it is because I am looking at tapping a wider audience.” The market for Assamese cinema, he explains, “is very small…I always think that if films made in other parts of India or even abroad can come to Assam and do business here, why can't films made in the North East go to places outside the region and do business there.”

Though Anshuman had seen the film on Doordarshan as a child some 20 years ago, he can recollect only in bits. “So I approached Brajen Barua's daughter for a copy of it but even she didn't have anything, Finally, we found a script handwritten by Barua with his brother Ramen Barua, who lent music to the original. Based on that script, we have rewritten the screenplay of the Hindi version.”

To keep the loveliness of its original scores intact, Ramen Barua has been roped in to do the music for “Shivam.” Says Anshuman, “In fact, Udit Narayan and Shaan, who have lent their voice to the songs, had refused to believe that these are 40-year-old compositions till I made them hear the original songs.” He has retained three songs from the original film and added two new ones composed by Ramen Barua.

To the old storyline he has made “a few peripheral changes keeping in mind the modern times, for example, sending telegrams have become a thing of the past.” He has used a digital high definition camera to shoot two songs and a few scenes. “This I think was done for the first time in Assam.” Anshuman says, in his first film “Dooor”, he talked about “the alienation, the mental gap that exists between the people of the North East and the rest of India. With ‘Shivam' I want to bridge that gap…I want to tell the people of the North East, ‘For a change lets invade the other side'.”

With cinegoers in Assam beginning to return to halls to watch movies, Anshuman is expecting a good response for “Shivam.” Besides its commercial release, the film is likely to see DTH and Internet releases and release on cell phone network as well. “With coming of broadband and 3G, I hope things will be easier,” hopes Anshuman.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 5:56:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/In-a-new-cask/article15951931.ece

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