BY NURUL ISLAM LASKAR
Writer, translator and researcher Shalim M Hussain has been selected for the ‘India Foundation for the Arts’ grant 2017-18. The grant has been sanctioned for four short films on ‘Nau Khela’, ‘Lathibari’, and ‘Kobi Bayat’, three performative arts from the char-chaporis of Assam and ‘Gasshi Rati’, a semi-religious ritualistic performance. The announcement was made by the Foundation in New Delhi on Friday.
Hussain, who hails from Sontoli Village of Kamrup Rural District of Assam, has been working on the literature and culture of the char-chaporis (river islands of Assam) for a long time. In 2010 he co-directed a short documentary film on ‘Lathibari’ and has been instrumental in founding a protest movement that has been given the name ‘Miyah Poetry’. He is one of the founders of Itamugur, an art collective that is focussed on promoting the literature and art from the char-chaporis of Assam.
Some of the poems from the ‘Miyah Poetry’ series translated by Hussain are now being serialised on the Sunflower Collective blog. Hussain is a PhD scholar at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, and is currently working on Assamese literary aesthetics. He has also translated the popular Assamese novel ‘Asimot Jar Heral Sima’ by Kanchan Barua to English.
Since very little work has been done on the char-chaporis and lesser still on the cultural practices from these areas, it is hoped that this study and the proposed set of documentary films will help in introducing the chars to a wide audience, and dispel doubts and stereotypes surrounding the area. It is also expected that this will lead to better and more informed debates on the char chaporis in the future.