Wheel turns full circle for rebel Assamese filmmaker

Shankar barua, the rebel film makerA product of the torrid times, Shankar Borua, a Canada-based Assamese filmmaker, had tried to unravel the psyche of the northeast Indian. The 32-year-old who migrated to Canada three years ago is fast being acknowledged as a "rebel filmmaker of the alternative genre".

In the two films he has made on his own so far, Borua has been noticed for sensitive portrayals of stories from the northeastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

His documentary "If God Be With Us" was an attempt to understand the Naga psyche. His earlier film "Angst At Large" took a look at the socio-political outlook of current Assam embroiled in a similar turmoil as Nagaland.

Borua told IANS on e-mail from Vancouver: "As a filmmaker my work centres on our land and our people. My films respond to my innermost desire to document history for posterity in a time of increasing marginalisation of the voices of many amidst the cacophony unleashed by a few."

The bloodbath in the northeast has been chiefly due to the aspirations of groups organised along ethnic and ideological lines who, citing historical, socio-economic and political reasons, disagree to being part of India and seek separate sovereign status.

At the same time, the Indian state machinery has been firm in its resolve to keep its integrity and unity intact.

"If God Be With Us" attempted to document the Naga resistance and uncover the larger issue of colonisation of aboriginal peoples and the appropriation of their land and heritage.

"What makes it really tragic is the state of a lot of indigenous nations today. They are a fractured people - a divided house. Entire cultures have been annihilated. Peoples have disappeared - the traumatisation of a vast majority of people to satisfy the greed of a few. All of this deserves to be exposed to the bone.

"In mankind's march towards realising the project of modernity, across Asia and Africa and the Americas, people have suffered untold miseries of unimaginable magnitudes over the centuries. Some have been recorded, documented and laid bare.

"A whole lot of others have not been made known for reasons a sane mind would find hard to comprehend. Global capital and politically correct narrative make a heady concoction. A diabolic mixture of colonialism and racism is the mainstay of the popular narrative."

But Borua refuses to accept the reasons behind this.

"We are told networks and broadcasters have mandates to adhere to. We are being made to believe that dominant constructs of nationality and identity are here to stay - any questioning of the status quo is suspect. It is an atmosphere as this - which gives birth to new alternative narratives.

"Cinema deals with the two co-ordinates of time and space. I am more comfortable with the latter. I never went to film school and first interned with Jahnu Barua, the Assamese filmmaker, on his award-winning Assamese fiction film "Hkhagoroloi Bohu Door" (It's a long way to the sea).

"Along the lines of a dialogue with my first teacher I am currently wrapping up a script titled "Hkhagor Paluhi"(I have reached the sea). I believe the wheel has turned full circle."

By Sanjib K. Baruah/Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Sep 2

SHANKAR BORUA 
the assamese storyteller 
email : gahori@hotmail.com 
 
WHEN THE CAMEL DECIDES TO SIT 
THE NIGHT KNOWS IT'S TIME FOR THE NEW STORY 

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Past story