Jahnu Barua

The Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua's films are known for their social themes, which address the contemporary culture and politics of Assam, deploying an almost expressionistic approach to regional reformism. Graduating from the Guwahati University and the FTII, he made his first feature film, Aparoopa in 1982, which was the first Assamese film produced by NFDC.

Most of his films have won acclaims nationally and internationally. He has been awarded the 'Padma Shree' by the Government of India.



Notable Films:

Aparoopa - 1982 - Assameese

The debut feature film by Jahnu Barua, Aparoopa is a technically accomplished melodrama set in the colonial upper class society of Assam's tea gardens. Aparoopa forgoes her education to marry the rich Barua to whom her father owes money. Her boredom and anxiety become unbearable on the arrival of an old college friend and military officer who offers her an escape route.

Direction & Screenplay: Jahnu Barua
Cast: Suhasini Mulay, Biju Phukan, Girish Karnad
Cinematography: Binod Pradhan
Music: Bhupen Hazarika



Papori - 1986 - Assameese

Set in the political background of the All Assam Student's Union agitations during the 1983 elections, the film is about Papori whose husband Binod is falsely arrested for a murder. During this time, her daughter ends up in the hospital, where she eventually dies. Phukan, a police inspector finds the true murderer but cannot arrest him because the killer enjoys political protection. A smuggler rapes Papori and her husband is convicted of murder. This melodramatic film ends with an epilogue stating that the husband is eventually freed and the police inspector promoted.

Direction & Screenplay: Jahnu Barua
Cast: Biju Phukan, Gopi Desai, Sushil Goswami, Dulal Roy
Cinematography: Binod Pradhan
Music: Satya Barua, P.P.Vidyanathan



Halodiya Choraye Baodhan Khaye - 1987 - Assameese
(The Catastrophe)

This film won Barua the National award for Best Film and several International awards.

Set in the volatile political background of Assam, the film depicts the story of a farmer whose landholding is ripped off by a cruel landlord. He makes innumerable trips to bureaucrats with his problem, but fails to get any favourable reply. At last he finds a good bureaucrat who helps him to regain his lost land.

Direction & Screenplay: Jahnu Barua
Cast: Indra Bania, Purnima Pathak Saikia, Badal Das, Hemen Choudhury, Pabitra Kumar Dekha
Cinematography: Anup Jotwani
Music: Satya Barua



Banani - 1989 - Assameese
(The Forest)

A forest ranger confronts illegal timber merchants and contractors on behalf of the impoverished tribal people. The honest ranger's actions results in frequent transfers from one post to other to the annoyance of his wife, who wants to settle down and look after their ailing child. Eventually she supports her husband's fight and the tribal people realise that they need a weapon to defend themselves.

Direction & Screenplay: Jahnu Barua
Cast: Mridula Barua, Sushil Goswami, Bishnu Kharghoria
Cinematography: Anoop Jotwani
Music: Satya Barua, Prasanta Bordoloi



Firingoti - 1991 - Assameese
(The Spark)

It is 1962, on the eve of the Sino-Indian war. Ritu, a young widow comes to Koronga, a remote village of Assam, as a school teacher appointed by the state government. Once she reaches the virtually inaccessible village, she is told that there has been no school there for the last eleven years. Eleven years ago, the school house was burnt down, but Ritu has been informed by the authorities that the school teachere has just retired and started drawing his pension!

Ritu chose her vocation soon after her husband's death, mainly to get over her acute depression. Now she takes on the challenge of rebuilding the school. When she starts campaigning among the villagers, she first meets with suspicion, then interest and finally enthusiasm. The school begins to function under a large village tree, while the villagers contribute two bamboo poles each, some dry thatch and a few hours of labour and finally build the new school house.

The tree of knowledge grows. Ritu's efforts affect many lives. When going to the town hall one day, she hears of the war, she comes back and gets the local radio working. News and information about the outside world flow into the village. But the process of enlightenment now has to contend with the loss of innocence. In the wake of this comes a 'son of the soil' from the city, who, having lost his job there, wants to take over the school. When Ritu fights back against the threats and even physical assault, the man brings his ruffian friends and sets fire to the school house. One by one the villagers gather around the pyre. The shocked silence of Ritu is finally broken by the promise that they will build the school house once again. No fire will be allowed to extinguish the spark of knowledge any more.

Direction & Screenplay: Jahnu Barua
Cast: Moloya Goswami, Bishnu Kharghoria, Hemen Choudhury, Inu Baruah, Badal Das
Cinematography: Anoop Jotwani
Editing: Heu-en Barua, Ranjit Das
Music: Satya Barua



Hkhgoroloi Bohu Door - 1994 - Assameese
(It's a Long Way to the Sea)

Hokhgoroloi Bohu Door won Jahnu Barua the National award for best director and 15 international awards, including the World Peace Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The boatman, Puwal who ferries people across the river goes to the city of Guwahati on the invitation of his son Hemanta. Hemanta's main intention behind this invitation is to get his father's signature to enable him to sell a family land. A disillusioned Puwal returns to the village, but only to find that a bridge is built over the river, thereby losing his ancestral employment.

Direction & Screenplay: Jahnu Barua
Cast: Bishnu Khargaria, Susanta Barua, Arun Nath
Cinematography: P.Rajan
Music: Satya Barua


Filmography:

  • Aparoopa
  • Papori
  • Halodiya Choraye Baodhan Khaye
  • Banani
  • Firingoti
  • Hikhgoroloi Bohu Door


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