Oxford University Press (OUP) has published a new book titled ‘ The Moving Image and Assamese Culture : Joymoti, Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Assamese Cinema’ authored by Bobbeeta Sharma. The book explores the inception of Assamese cinema in the context of Assam’s history and culture and its progress up to present times. Sharma is presently Chairperson, Assam State Film Finance & Development Corporation.
Most studies on Indian cinema focus on Bollywood, largely ignoring regional cinema in India which has a long tradition : Assamese cinema for example dates back to 1935. This book brings to light the works of Jyotiprasad Agarwala and his foray into the world of film making and the birth of the first Assamese film ‘Joymoti’ . To contemplate the making of an Assamese film in the early 1930’s when Indian cinema was itself in its nascent stage required capacity and grit to dream big and bring Assam on the map of the history of Indian as well as world cinema. The work thus takes into its purview the political history of the region and the socio-cultural milieu within which the first Assamese film Joymoti was made, providing interesting insights into the thought and philosophy of Jyotiprasad Agarwala (1903-1951), the pioneer of Assamese cinema.
The author has attempted to give an insight into the history of performing arts starting from the folk elements , to classical Sanskrit traditions to the Neo- Vaishnavite art forms developed by Srimanta Sankaradeva to the beginnings of Assamese Cinema . Films can be at many times seen as vehicles of socio-political and cultural self -assertion . This book attempts to explore the beginnings of Assamese cinema to such a search for cultural self assertion. The author maintains that Jyotiprasad Agarwala did not make the first Assamese film Joymoti only as a piece of entertainment but saw it as a medium through which he could express the cultural identity of Assam.
The book includes newspaper interview of eminent litterateur Lakhsminath Bezbarua on the the film Joymoti , articles written by Gopinath Bordoloi and Ambikagiri Raychoudhury on Joymoti and other film reviews as well as rare photographs. The book also includes an interview of Aideu Handique the first Assamese actress taken by the author in 1997 and other film personalities of Assam.
The book is an outcome of the research done by the author when she was enrolled as a Fellow in the Department of Film Studies , Jadavpur Univeristy , Kolkata in 1995, under the supervision of Prof Mihir Bhattacharya who is known as the father of Film Studies in India as he was the founder of the Film Studies Department of Jadavpur University which had the first first Film Studies department in India.
The book was launched on 2nd August 2014 at Nedfi House by chief minister Assam, Tarun Gogoi. Mihir Bhattacharya (Retd) Professor of Film Studies Department , Jadavpur University, Kolkata graced the occasion as a special guest along with Bobbeeta Sharma , author of the book , Sunil Vorah , General Manager , Academic Division , OUP , Kishen Kumar of United Publishers who is Distributor of the book and other members of the film fraternity and academic circle of Assam.
Sharma adds, “I could not complete my PhD as I left my job as a lecturer in Pandu college and also got busy with my television series Bidexot Apun Manuh and later when I got involved in politics. But the thought of coming out with a book always remained in my mind as I had collected very valuable material over the years. I continued my research on the issue and hence this book – ultimately!”