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50 golden years of Aranya

By The Assam Tribune
50 golden years of Aranya
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Samarendra Narayan Dev's Aranya is a classic which still resonates with the times of today, writes FARHANA AHMED.

Winner of the National Award, Aranya was shot mostly in Bhairabkunda – on the Indo- Bhutan border in Assam. It was the first ever movie from Assam to be entirely produced by a club.


On November 12, 1971, Samarendra Narayan Dev's Aranya hit theatres across the State. Produced by the United Club of Mangaldoi of the undivided Darrang District, Aranya is still very fresh in the minds and memories of cine lovers. Dev presented many pertinent issues, which are still relevant in the present times, with a delicate narrative and poignant music to transform Aranya into a timeless classic.


Aranya's story revolves around the arrival of a young forest ranger, Jayanta Baruah, at the Rangamati Reserve Forest and his encounter with the forest mafia – Pratap Duwarah. Jayanta, camping in a forest bungalow, was a deterrent for Duwarah – who deals in illegal timber and also kills rhinos for their horns. He tries in vain to woo the new forest officer through various means in a bid to continue his illegal activities uninterrupted.


Meanwhile, Jayanta meets Krishna, a Gorkha girl living in a village on the edge of the forest. Krishna's simplicity instantly makes Jayanta fall in love with her. On the other hand, the onslaught on the forest by Duwarah creates havoc inside the Rangamati Reserve Forest, and all attempts by Jayanta to stop Duwarah fail. Jayanta reports Duwarah's illegal activities to the higher authorities and this attracts the wrath of the forest mafia. Duwarah conspires to eliminate Jayanta and so, he entrusts his confidant, Bahadur, for the job. Bahadur makes a plan to kill Jayanta by asking him to enter the jungle on a full moon night on false information of a rhino sighting. As Bahadur follows Jayanta inside the jungle, Duwarah enters Jayanta's home and tries to molest Krishna, who turns out to be Bahadur's daughter. A scared Krishna runs towards the jungle for safety. Hearing his daughter's screams, Bahadur turns back and sees his daughter being chased by Duwarah. In utter disgust and anger, Bahadur fires the rifle which he uses to hunt rhinos at Pratap and kills him.


In Aranya, together with a simple love story, there is a parallel narrative of human frailties like greed, enchantment, morality and ethics, along with the undercurrent of social class consciousness as well as the human encroachment of Nature. In a romantic scene of the movie, Jayanta expresses his amazement at Krishna's mastery over Assamese despite being a Gorkha girl: "Toi bor bhal Axomiya kou. (You speak very good Assamese)" To this, Krishna, who is a little hurt, replies: "Moitu Axomore suwali. (I'm an Assamese girl too)" one who rips off her dignity at night. Winner of the National Award, Aranya was shot mostly in Bhairabkunda – on the Indo-Bhutan border in Assam. It was the first ever movie from Assam to be entirely produced by a club.


Another reason for Aranya's agelessness is its music. All of its songs – penned by Keshab Mahanta and voiced by veteran artistes like Manna Dey, Arati Mukherjee, and others, with music by Sudhin Dasgupta, are still a big hit. It was Hemanga Biswas who advised Dev to rope in Keshab Mahanta for the movie's lyrics. Sudhin Dasgupta's days in Darjeeling inspired him to compose "Aei poornimar rati…" in a Gorkha folk tone. A graduate from the Royal School of Music, London, Dasgupta was equally melodious in two other numbers of Aranya – "Xile xile theka khale…" by Arati Mukherjee and "Dinar puhar…" by Manna Dey. Numerous remixes and covers by many present-day artistes bear testimony to the popularity of Aranya's music.


The cast of Aranya was robust enough to enjoy popular acceptance. The pair of Biju Phukan as ranger Jayanta and Bidya Rao as Krishna was an instant hit at the box office. Tassaduk Yusuf as anti-hero Pratap Duwarah is one of the most memorable casting in the history of Assamese cinema. The cameo role by Bijay Sankar in the "Dinar puhar" song added more flavour to the already well-served storyline of the movie.

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50 golden years of Aranya

Samarendra Narayan Dev's Aranya is a classic which still resonates with the times of today, writes FARHANA AHMED.

Winner of the National Award, Aranya was shot mostly in Bhairabkunda – on the Indo- Bhutan border in Assam. It was the first ever movie from Assam to be entirely produced by a club.


On November 12, 1971, Samarendra Narayan Dev's Aranya hit theatres across the State. Produced by the United Club of Mangaldoi of the undivided Darrang District, Aranya is still very fresh in the minds and memories of cine lovers. Dev presented many pertinent issues, which are still relevant in the present times, with a delicate narrative and poignant music to transform Aranya into a timeless classic.


Aranya's story revolves around the arrival of a young forest ranger, Jayanta Baruah, at the Rangamati Reserve Forest and his encounter with the forest mafia – Pratap Duwarah. Jayanta, camping in a forest bungalow, was a deterrent for Duwarah – who deals in illegal timber and also kills rhinos for their horns. He tries in vain to woo the new forest officer through various means in a bid to continue his illegal activities uninterrupted.


Meanwhile, Jayanta meets Krishna, a Gorkha girl living in a village on the edge of the forest. Krishna's simplicity instantly makes Jayanta fall in love with her. On the other hand, the onslaught on the forest by Duwarah creates havoc inside the Rangamati Reserve Forest, and all attempts by Jayanta to stop Duwarah fail. Jayanta reports Duwarah's illegal activities to the higher authorities and this attracts the wrath of the forest mafia. Duwarah conspires to eliminate Jayanta and so, he entrusts his confidant, Bahadur, for the job. Bahadur makes a plan to kill Jayanta by asking him to enter the jungle on a full moon night on false information of a rhino sighting. As Bahadur follows Jayanta inside the jungle, Duwarah enters Jayanta's home and tries to molest Krishna, who turns out to be Bahadur's daughter. A scared Krishna runs towards the jungle for safety. Hearing his daughter's screams, Bahadur turns back and sees his daughter being chased by Duwarah. In utter disgust and anger, Bahadur fires the rifle which he uses to hunt rhinos at Pratap and kills him.


In Aranya, together with a simple love story, there is a parallel narrative of human frailties like greed, enchantment, morality and ethics, along with the undercurrent of social class consciousness as well as the human encroachment of Nature. In a romantic scene of the movie, Jayanta expresses his amazement at Krishna's mastery over Assamese despite being a Gorkha girl: "Toi bor bhal Axomiya kou. (You speak very good Assamese)" To this, Krishna, who is a little hurt, replies: "Moitu Axomore suwali. (I'm an Assamese girl too)" one who rips off her dignity at night. Winner of the National Award, Aranya was shot mostly in Bhairabkunda – on the Indo-Bhutan border in Assam. It was the first ever movie from Assam to be entirely produced by a club.


Another reason for Aranya's agelessness is its music. All of its songs – penned by Keshab Mahanta and voiced by veteran artistes like Manna Dey, Arati Mukherjee, and others, with music by Sudhin Dasgupta, are still a big hit. It was Hemanga Biswas who advised Dev to rope in Keshab Mahanta for the movie's lyrics. Sudhin Dasgupta's days in Darjeeling inspired him to compose "Aei poornimar rati…" in a Gorkha folk tone. A graduate from the Royal School of Music, London, Dasgupta was equally melodious in two other numbers of Aranya – "Xile xile theka khale…" by Arati Mukherjee and "Dinar puhar…" by Manna Dey. Numerous remixes and covers by many present-day artistes bear testimony to the popularity of Aranya's music.


The cast of Aranya was robust enough to enjoy popular acceptance. The pair of Biju Phukan as ranger Jayanta and Bidya Rao as Krishna was an instant hit at the box office. Tassaduk Yusuf as anti-hero Pratap Duwarah is one of the most memorable casting in the history of Assamese cinema. The cameo role by Bijay Sankar in the "Dinar puhar" song added more flavour to the already well-served storyline of the movie.