FIFTY FIVE NOT OUT: BIJU PHUKAN

love to portray their idols as something out of this world, calling them by different epitomes, including semi-God sometimes! And we as Assamese, can we be far behind?

We don't wish to underestimate the contribution of Biju Phukan to the Assamese Film Industry who has been working as Actor and Film Director since the last 30 years or so, but while we go through that, we want to make it clear that Biju Phukan, like Mumbai's Amitabh Bachchan, has been the most unwavering factor in the history of Assamese Film Industry in the 70s and 80s.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

The year is 1947. To be specific, it was the day when the country attained its independence. To be more specific, it was also the year when an Army officer had a son born to him. Sounds like Salman Rushdies 'The Midnight Children', isn't it?

The father, obviously recognising the significance of the year, named his son as Bijoy. Bijoy grew up and completed his schooling as Bijoy Phukan. But fate had something different for him, at least to his name. When the entire people of the state know and call him by Biju Phukan, what can a school certificate do? Incidentally, Biju was the pet name of Bijoy Phukan!

FIFTY DONE AND MORE TO GO

Out of the total 55 years of Biju Phukan's life, more than 30 years have been spent as an Actor. A career which spans to around more than 50 films starting with a brief role in 'Dr Bezbaruah' directed by renowned filmmaker Brajen Baruah. However, his first role as leading actor was in 'Baruar Sansar' followed by 'Aranya' which established him as a 'hero'. Some of his other important films include 'Lalita', 'Banariya Phool', 'Upoja Sonor Mati', 'Anutap', 'Rashmirekha', 'Maa', 'Mamata', 'Ganesh', 'Dharmakai', 'Abhimaan', 'Bahagar Dupariya', 'Antony Mur Naam', 'Bowari', 'Ghar Sansar', 'Brishti', 'Natun Aasha', 'Aajali Nobou', 'Achanta Prahar', 'Meghmukti', 'Rajanigandha', 'Bisesh Erati', 'Pahari Kanya', 'Pita Putra', 'Man Mandir', 'I killed him Sir', 'Aie Morom Tumar Babe', etc.

Biju Phukan had also the opportunity to work in the 'other kind of films' or specifically parallel films. Who can forget the character Mahikanta in the National Award winning film 'Agnishnan' and directed by Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia? Even the film 'Brishti' directed by Deuti Baruah was different and much ahead of its times. Others include 'Aparupa' and 'Papori' directed by renowned filmmaker Jahnu Baruah.

After a long sabbatical break from films, Biju Phukan is once again the busy actor. Though times have changed, and he is no longer the 'Biju Phukan' of yesteryears, still Phukan has been offered author backed roles today which require huge emotions, and histrionics to display. Of late, he has been signing films left and right with 'Agnisakshi' probably being the first one to reach the theatres. Among the films on the floor are 'Priya Milan' directed by Munna Ahmed, 'Chinaki Achinaki' directed by Anamika Hazarika and 'Barood' directed by most popular filmmaker Munin Baruah.

Biju Phukan also got behind the camera in the late 80s which was quite expected of him considering the fact that he is the only actor who is well conversant with all the techniques of the film medium. His first directorial venture 'Bhai Bhai' was a big hit, though his next 'Atikram', a children film, has not been released till today unfortunately. His television serial 'Deuta' written by Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia was also very popular and well received by the critics. Biju Phukan remains open to the idea of directing a film again, and according to sources, he might direct one by next year!

THE 'RAJASHRI' STORY

Another wonderful news for him and for his admirers is that the Actor is also on the verge of completing 25 years of his married life. Evoking once again that experience, Phukan recalls, 'The year was 1977. I had gone to Bishwanath Chariali for 'Upapath', a film also starring Mridula Baruah against me for the first time. While our shooting was going on, I along with Mridula had rushed off to Tezpur for a wedding reception. As it happens, I came across a girl at the reception, a very attractive girl! We were introduced to each other, and become quite good acquaintance. And slowly we began to exchange 'love letters' to each other. Within 6 months of our meet, we got married. That was in 6th December, 1977.'

Biju Phukan's marriage with Rajashri sounds just like one of the prelude to a Rajashri production's 'film story', and now on the threshold of jubilee, lays bare that the story has gone on to be a 'success'. Phukan plans to hold a special function on his marriage anniversary this year, with all the ingredients of a 'hit' film like songs, dance, music etc and the guest list would include all his friends, relatives, colleagues, film directors, producers, technicians, journalists and all those people who mean to him a lot. Phukan reveals that he would also take the floor himself!

Pradyut Deka (prodyutkdeka@hotmail.com)