I'm wary to make my kinds of films today: Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia

National Award winning filmmaker, litterateur and academician Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia was walking down the memory lane in front of a large audience in a special function held on the felicitation of 25 years of Dr Saikia's as filmmaker.

Born in February 20, 1932 at Nagaon, Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia has taken Assamese literature to a very respectable height what with the discerning people of the state have now lost count of the awards but have kept close to their heart his works like 'Shringkhal', 'Banaprastha', 'Gahbar', 'Antareep' and the like. Added to this glorious creations, Dr Saikia has made his way to a totally different field, namely of films. He has directed such remarkable films like 'Sandhyaraag', 'Agnishan', 'Kolahal', 'Sarathi' and the Hindi film 'Kaalsandhya', with each of his eight films receiving national and international awards.

It was a swashbuckling evening organised jointly by Assam Cine Art Society (ACAS) and Roopkar Cine Enterprise at the Vivekananda Hall on Monday evening, where Dr Saikia reminiscences to his fans and film lovers right from the idea which cliqued into his mind for making Sandhya Raag to make a debut in the realm of cinema. In keeping with the exact date of the release of 'Sandhyaraag' at Anuradha Cinema Hall on 5th August, a special show of the film was organised at the same venue after 25 years. Significantly his foray in to cinema also paved the way for 'parallel cinema' movement in the state and encouraged many new filmmakers to make such cinema.

What he said, although raised peals of laughter with the incorporation of a few light elements, is full of his inability for more achievement in the face of fund crunch which has been hitting him hard and yet he said he will make one more film this year if he gets fund for the purpose and his health improves. 'I still can make my kind of films with 20-25 lakhs without compromising with the cinematic aspects. But today seeing the kind of films being made and the box office criteria, I am a bit hesitant and even afraid to make my kind of films and able to attract the same audience. If I write a book and the book fails to reach out to the readers, it is not the publisher's fault. I have to take the blame for it, similarly, if I make a film today, I have to make sure that the producer gets his investment back.'

Dr Saikia who has been largely involved in the Bhabendra Nath Saikia Children Trust of late admits that he has been saving all his earnings for the trust now, which has also been a major factor for the lack of resources and time for making his next film. In this regard, Dr Saikia thanked ACAS and Roopkar Cine Enterprise for presenting him the 20-volume set of Children Encyclopaedia Britannia to his trust and assured that it would come in very handy for the children in the days to come. A Doctorate in Physics from the London University in 1961, Dr Saikia also lamented the lack of audience for his kind of films, saying in a lighter vein that of the 2 crore and 66 lakh population in the state, even if four lakh of them come to the theatres 'good cinema' will survive!

When a question was put to him about the trend of remaking films with particular mention of 'Devdas' and the cinematic liberty taken in the form of grandeur sets, costumes and characters in the new film, Dr Saikia sniggered, 'If there come a day when young boys and girls break up into songs in the streets in reality, then maybe, I would have to incorporate them in my films for the sake of authenticity! But I cannot make a film which is not a part of truth.' Dr Saikia though agreed in principle, that both 'parallel cinema' and commercial films are necessary for the film industry to survive and the state to flourish. 'We need both kind of films, films which are based on commercial elements and films of reality for the fact that we both need money and recognitions.'

By Prodyut Kumar Deka
e-mail: prodyutkdeka@hotmail.com