Basundhara...the earth

Basundhara...the earth

the only film from assam winning national award this year

While the issue of creating awareness about conservation of forest and wildlife is the most widely used content for documentary filmmakers of Assam, there have been very few attempts to address this issue by the filmmakers engaged in feature films. There is no denying the fact that the issue of conservation of forest and wildlife can be projected in a more effective way through documentary format. However, at the same time, in a country like ours, such documentaries always remain far from the masses because of unavailability of a proper system of regular public screening. As a result, any sensitive documentary on nature and wildlife, on winning any award, becomes a cinematic piece touring the festival circuit only, and thus it fails to reach the masses. Therefore, it is obviously the need of the hour for the filmmakers to address this issue in feature format with strong cinematic vocabulary.

After Jahnu Barua’s ‘Bonani’ (1989) and Jwangdao Bosoda’s ‘Rape in the Virgin Forest’ (Bodo, 1994), both nationally awarded films debutant director Hiren Bora made the third significant Assamese feature film on conservation of forest and wildlife, ‘Basundhara... The Earth’ in 2009. Bora’s one was honoured with the Best Film in Assamese Language in this year’s National Awards announced on the 15th of September.

The film, ‘Basundhara... The Earth’, on its commercial release did well at the box office crossing the average mark. In fact, anyone familiar with the present dismaying state of affairs of the Assamese film industry especially from the point of view of business would never expect more from a film like ‘Basundhara... The Earth’ which does not contain the formula elements. Therefore, it is indeed enchanting to see such a serious, meaningful effort earning national recognition. It may be mentioned here that this film was the official entry at the Kolkata Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival (organised by MAMI) and a festival in Chennai, last year.

Content and treatment wise, Basundhara... The Earth is a film of a different genre. Set in the contemporary socio - political backdrop, the film tells the story of a young girl, Basundhara leading the masses to find a means to end the man-elephant conflict, one of the most crucial problems in Assam. Deceived by her boyfriend, disheartened Basundhara finds the only motivation to live the life in her new assignment by the NGO to work in the villages affected by the man - elephant conflict. The villages are adjacent to a National Park where a big racket run by timber merchant Bikash Barua in association with some forest officials and political high ups is destroying the forest and the elephant habitat. There Basundhara ties up with Arjun, a young journalist who is committed to expose Bikash Barua and company. However things take a ugly turn as Arjun is found death. But the zeal of Basundhara is not lost and with the help of an honest forest ranger, she finally succeeds in bringing Bikash Barua and his gang behind bars.

Technically, the film has attained glory thanks to the flawless camera work by nationally - acclaimed cinematographer Vivek Benarjee. The sound and set-props too are impressive. The music, directed by National Awardee Torali Sarma, is an asset to the film. Sarma has also wonderfully rendered the only song, penned by noted lyricist Dr Birinchi Kumar Medhi, and tuned and musically designed by the music director herself.

Talented actress Barsha Rani Bishoya has come up with a commanding performance in the role of the protagonist, Basundhara. She is ably supported by Sourabh Hazarika in the role of Arjun. Dr Iftikar Ahmed has convincingly portrayed the role of Bikash Barua. Some other leading artists of Assamese cinema dishing out praiseworthy acting in Basundhara... The Earth are Bishnu Kharghoria, Prithviraj Rabha, Moitreyee Goswami, Rita Bora, Bhagabat Pritam, etc.

Chandan Sarmah