Longing for their place in the sun - Shankar Borua's latest venture into fiction film enthuses entire crew

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By ANUPAM BORDOLOI in Guwahati
  • Published 13.03.03
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Guwahati, March 13: Shankar Borua’s visiting card carries his signature line: “When the camel decides to sit, the night knows it’s time for the new story”.

For the young Assamese filmmaker, it is time now to give shape to his hepaah (yearning), which will be the first fiction film by the acclaimed director of several documentaries.

Borua told The Telegraph that through Hepaah — subtitled All Those Longings in English — he will be trying to give a “fresh new look to Assamese filmmaking”.

Borua will start work on the audio track of the film tomorrow, while shooting will begin in May.

Shankar Borua — who described himself as “the Assamese storyteller” — burst on the scene a couple of years ago with a documentary titled Angst at Large, which dwelt on the insurgency in Assam. If God be with us, another documentary made last year, looked at the 50-year-old Naga insurgency through the eyes of a sympathetic neighbour. The pig farmer-turned-filmmaker revealed that Biju Phukan — the first star of Assamese filmdom — would portray the central character in Hepaah, which is “set against the turbulent political backdrop of the Nineties”.

“It is a story of a ragtag band of five musicians who overcome tremendous odds to find their place in the sun,” he said. Borua, who admitted to hero-worshipping Biju Phukan since childhood, said he wrote the script of Hepaah with the veteran actor in mind.

Phukan told The Telegraph that he was “impressed by the very bold and different subject matter of Hepaah”, which prompted him to take up the offer immediately. “Among the new breed of Assamese filmmakers, I think Shankar Borua is an exception in his handling of subjects. He is a very positive thinker. His hepaah is infectious,” Phukan added. Some of the other characters in the film will be played by Sanjeev Hazarika, Geetawali Rajkumari and Gaurav Bania.

Borua, however, made it clear the he was not “attempting high art” through Hepaah. “It is, to use a cliché, an out-and-out commercial movie though not the usual bump-and-grind routine,” he said, adding that “What I want to prove is that sensitive films, too, can be part of popular culture”.

Popular singer Jitul Sonowal has composed the music for the film which, Borua said, is interspersed with seven songs. “Written by Nirmalprova Bordoloi and Nalini Dutta Mahanta, the lyrics of the film are very powerful,” he claimed.

Borua’s life is as colourful and diverse as his films. He shunned a nine-to-five job despite a brilliant academic career to become a pig-farmer, a waiter and finally a filmmaker. Like films, Borua’s obsession with pigs continues. “Pigs fascinate me. They are one of the most intelligent species around,” Borua says matter-of-factly. That probably explains his e-mail ID of gahori — “pig” in Assamese.