Reviving Celluloid

Actor ZERIFA WAHID feels the new film Baandhon can set a trend for cinema in Assam. She speaks about her role and the potential of this flick by award-winning director Jahnu Barua

Do you think Baandhon has the potential to change the course of the ailing Assamese cinema?

Yes, I believe that this film can set a trend for Cinema in Assam by amalgamating meaningful cinema with cinema for the common masses, instead of being a film just for the so-called intellectual audience or film critics. An All India release of Baandhon is so encouraging.

How was your experience working with Jahnu Barua?

Jahnu Barua is a very humble and simple human being, so working with him was a great pleasure. He is always smiling on the sets, though he is a very serious filmmaker. I greatly love and respect him not only as a filmmaker but also as a human being.

Please describe your role in the film.

My character in Baandhon is a very sweet one, people loved me and everyone said that I looked very beautiful. Myself and Jatin Bora played supporting roles to the two protagonists in the film. Jahnu Barua made it very clear from beginning that though the film carries a very serious message, I carry the colour of the film. He made sure that I look beautiful and wear the best looking costumes. I played Ranjana who is married to Jatin Bora and doing her PhD.

The film is also about relationships. How sensitively do you think Jahnu Barua has handled different relationships in the film?

Through a lot of beautiful and humorous moments in the film, Jahnu Barua has portrayed human relationship and its beauty. The relationship between the old couple, their love and quarrels, has really touched the right cord in the audiences' heart. Everyone could relate to it because it was so realistic. Similarly, my relationship with my husband also inspired young couples. And, finally the emotional dependence of the grandparents on their only grandson and losing him in the bomb blast was felt by every audience who watched the film, be it in IFFI, Goa or Chennai. I went to both the festivals and interacted with the audience after the film was screened.  

What do you think can be done to improve the plight of Assamese film industry?

I can write a book on it by now. I am really tired of answering the question or giving my opinion in innumerable talk shows on the problem and prospects of film industry in Assam but find no change or progress in our plight. Very simple, we need more Cinema halls in Assam, and a change in the attitude  the film distributors who are promoting only Hindi Cinema in Assam by sabotaging the prospects of Assamese films by describing them as below standard and unviable commercially. The Government had a huge role to play in this regard. The government has so far been neglecting Assamese Cinema by considering it as one of the most not so serious problem. They should have by now established mini cinema halls in the villages and semi urban areas considering the fact that if people can spend so much money in watching mobile theatre and specially to see actors from cinema on mobile stage, will they not come to see films if they have cinema halls in the village and towns? Atleast the government can take up a plan of establishing ten mini cinema halls every year, and in my opinion it is not impossible. The Assamese film industry was generating a lot of employment, and has great potential in preserving our art and culture. We are tired of begging for our rights which we deserve. Cinema is so closely related to any culture and how could anyone let it die so easily.

 Can you draw any lessons from the film and the publicity it has received?

Yes, with a very good story, we can make a very simple and sensitive film to which everyone can relate to, instead of making it dark and difficult to understand in the name of 'art film'. But of course you need better poster design and publicity for the film to reach out to the audience.

It is not just my career as an actor I am concerned about but Cinema as an art should not die like this. Cinema is a world culture and Assam should not be an exception.

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Baandhon and Assamese Cinema