The Assamese film industry that has been grappling with many a problem for several decades after having been in a comparatively decent position till the 1980s continues to find the going tough. The prolonged predicament of the industry has a sense of irony, given that the visionary, Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala had come up with his pioneering initiatives in making the first Assamese film Joymoti way back in 1935, followed by Indramaloti. He braved all odds of those restrictive times to realize his dream of taking the State’s culture to a new high through his path-breaking ventures and with such a solid launch pad, the Assamese film industry should have been having a rollicking time in the subsequent decades. Unfortunately, those following in his footsteps were not quite up to the task and coupled with the challenges brought by the changing times in the form of a proliferating entertainment media in varied hues, Assamese cinema failed to adapt to the changing times. While Assamese cinema is enduring all the predicaments crippling regional cinema in general, some peculiar problems have compounded matters. The reluctance on the part of the distributors and exhibitors to screen Assamese films even when those are drawing audiences is a serious issue and this is something the government authorities need to take up. Changing tastes of the audience who have greater exposure to diverse satellite channels and myriad forms of entertainment has made many people, especially the new generation, techno-savvy and selective. Our filmmakers will have to keep this in mind while making films.
The State’s film fraternity has been calling for some government interventions to put the ailing industry back on the tracks. It is in this context that the initiative of the ASFFDC to provide subsidy to films is commendable. A total of 55 films including 45 feature films, six documentaries and four short films have been selected for subsidy worth Rs 1 core in the first phase. The idea behind the move is to encourage filmmakers in their creative endeavours. With technologies effecting sweeping changes in the way films are made, it is also imperative that the Government assist the filmmakers in being a part of the technology transformation vis-a-vis filmmaking. The ASFFDC can also take effective steps towards setting up filmmaking training institutes. While we have been witness to a few Assamese films earning accolades and awards at national and international forums, what we need are films with wholesome entertainment value and an audience capable of enjoying and appreciating good films. Indeed, the occasional commercial success of one or two films goes to show that a well-made film with adequate thrust on artistic and technical aspects will never have to hunt for the audience. A pragmatic film policy by the Government, too, is a must and that has to be formulated by taking into confidence the stakeholders in the industry.