GUWAHATI, April 7 - National award-winning filmmaker Munin Baruah, who piloted a turnaround of the languishing regional film industry in the early 2000, passed away around 1:55 am today at his Bhagadattapur residence here, casting a pall of gloom across the State.
Baruah, who is fondly addressed as �Bhaimon da�, was ailing for quite some time. He was 71. He leaves behind his wife and veteran actress Manjula Baruah, a son and a daughter.
His last rites were performed at the Navagraha cremation ground with full state honours.
The funeral pyre was lit by his son Manas Baruah around 4 pm in the presence of a huge gathering comprising mostly his family members and colleagues in the film industry.
Before being brought to Navagraha cremation ground, his mortal remains were taken to Jyoti Chitraban Film and Television Institute and the proceedings were taken care of by the All Assam Students Union (AASU).
Credited to have directed several back-to-back blockbusters beginning with Hiya Diya Niya in the year 2000, Baruah entertained the Assamese movie buffs with several other commercial hits like Daag, Nayak, Kanyadaan, Bidhata, Barood, Rang, Ramdhenu and Priyar Priya.
Together with singer-composer Zubeen Garg and actor Jatin Bora, Baruah formed the brand called �Zubeen-Jatin-Munin� which virtually became the mantra of success for the Assamese silver screen for several years.
His movie Dinabandhu (2004), which was based on a story by legendry Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia, saw Baruah try his hands on an altogether different genre of movies. The movie was not only critically acclaimed but also went on to win the National Film Award in the �best feature film in Assamese� category.
Baruah, who made his directorial debut (jointly with Nipon Goswami) with Pratima released in 1987, was born in 1947 at Khumtai in Golaghat district. Later, he
directed Pita Putra, Pahari Kanya and Prabhati Pokhir Gaan. However, it was through Hiya Diya Niya that he became a household name in the State.
Zubeen Garg-starrer Priyar Priya, a political satire, released last year, was Baruah�s last movie as director.
Baruah had started his career in the film industry by writing screenplays. Even before becoming a full-fledged director, he had written screenplays for many successful movies, including Bowari, Ghar Sansar and Son Moina, where he also donned the mantle of an assistant film director to his mentor Siva Prasad Thakur.
Baruah contributed equally for the mobile theatre industry in the State and enjoyed a successful stint there as well. The television industry too was no exception.
Baruah�s popular comedy series Papu Nikur Sangbad, telecast on Doordarshan with Jayanta Das and Hiranya Deka in the titular characters, topped the television rating chart for years.
He had also written screenplay for several other directors. Very few people know that Baruah also acted in several plays in the early stage of his career.
In the last few years, the filmmaker was spearheading the campaign for reviving the film industry through an effective film policy for the State.
Singer Zubeen Garg, who rushed to Guwahati from Majuli where he was shooting for his upcoming movie, said, �He was like a father to me. I can only feel the loss but cannot express it in words. He led an illustrious career.�
Recollecting his association with Baruah, actor Jatin Bora said, �He was planning a project with me. We were supposed to sit together to work out the plan. He is the one responsible for whatever I have achieved in my life.�
AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said Baruah�s contribution was not limited to the film industry alone. �He contributed immense to the greater public life. He had a vision for the film industry which he had placed before the government from time to time. The onus is now on the government to turn his vision into reality.�