| A still from Aai Kot Naai |
Manju Bora is the only fiilmmaker in Assam who has nurtured her creative pursuits for over a decade. Since her debut with Baibhav in 1999 (which fetched her an award at the Dhaka International Film Festival in 2000), Bora has made six films and the latest, Aai Kot Naai (Maa), was released last Friday.
Of all the six films, Aai Kot Naai stands out in content and treatment. Dealing with a complex issue, Bora projects the ultimate triumph of human values over greed and parochialism.
The backdrop is a locality comprising a few villages along the Assam-Nagaland border where armed conflict between the state forces, insurgent groups and political opportunism flourish because of boundary disputes.
When the villagers all of a sudden find their houses and property destroyed in a fire, a group with vested political interest blames it on the inhabitants of the other side of the inter-state boundary.
The mistrust born of a deliberate misinformation campaign by a group with political aspirations turns common people living on either side of the inter-state boundary who were once friends into foes.
An Assamese youth falls in love with a Naga girl from the village on the other side of the boundary. Conflict between the communities stands in the way of their relationship.
Following a clash, a newborn from a village in Assam goes missing, leading many to believe that the baby had died. But after two months, his mother finds the infant being breastfed by another woman in a remote village on the other side of the boundary. Bidyabati Phukan, who played the mother, put up a brilliant performance. Equ-ally impressive were Bishnu Kharghoria, Indra Bonia, Rajen Phukan, Pabitra Choudhury and Hem Bora.