Remake misses critic's award

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By OLD IS GOLD TO HIM, BUT THE WINDS OF CHANGE ARE ALSO WELCOME. YET, GUWAHATI IN ITS PRESENT AVATAR HAS FAILED TO WIN OVER THIS SEPTUAGENARIAN FILM CRITIC, WRITER & DIRECTOR
  • Published 18.11.06
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Call it a “monotonous life” or just “static existence”, certain things in the life of septuagenarian award-winning film critic Pabitra Kumar Deka simply refuse to change.

For instance, he has been receiving uninterruptedly his regular dose of newspapers, magazines and journals from the same hawker, Tiwari, at his residence in Pub Sarania for the past four decades. The white Crompton Greaves ceiling fan in his reading room has been rendering service to him for the past 45 summers.

“This fan brought from England,” Deka points to the roof while sitting cross-legged on a divan in front of his reading table, “was a gift from my father when I built my house in Guwahati. And Tiwari,” he adds with a smile, “was a boy of 14 when he started supplying newspapers to me. Now he is an old man with an old cycle, but he still makes sure that I get my dose of news with my morning cup of tea everyday.”

Deka has always found affinity with old and trusted friends, acquaintances, places and commodities in the city.

Perhaps this is the reason why drastic changes in the city where he has been staying since 1962, is beyond his comprehension.

“I realise that change is inevitable. Life cannot remain the same. But the changes around us are not the kind we were expecting,” he says. “Choked drains, flooded lanes,litter bins overflowing with stinking garbage — this is not the future we had contemplated for Guwahati in our youth.”

But what really bothers Deka is the lack of “security” the citizens suffer from on a daily basis. “We are not secure. Today, terrorists can kill us any time. People are scared of moving out of their houses to avoid being killed in a bomb blast,” says the popular columnist.

“As young men, my friends and I used to roam the streets after watching a night show. Those were wonderful times, big empty roads waiting to be explored by youthful energy. But today, it is hard to move in the city after 8 pm. Police patrol also hinders free movement,” Deka says in between puffs of a cigarette, an addiction he developed when he started watching four to five films a day.

As a testimony to his love for literature, films and music, Deka has turned his entire house into a treasure trove of books and CDs. His library boasts of rare and precious books and films from all over the world. He also has several newspapers and magazines dating back to the 1930s.

“Earlier, I used to lend my books and CDs to my friends. But I don’t trust the younger lot as they are not sincere in returning my things,” says Deka.

A native of Nagaon, Deka came to the city to carve out a niche for himself in the world of films and literature. He has since travelled a long way to become one of the most senior and popular film critics of the region.

Till date, Deka has written several short stories, plays, novels and columns brimming with humour and satire. He has been honoured with several awards, including the Eastern India Motion Picture Association (EIMPA) award, 1988, for best writing on regional films of Assam.

He won kudos as a director for his highly acclaimed short film Eai Bat Nichei Chinaki and his documentary on Aidew Handique, the first Assamese heroine.

As a screenplay writer, he worked in several award-winning films, including Hastir Kanya — a documentary directed by Prabin Hazarika. The documentary was selected for Indian Panorama and screened at the International Film Festival held in India in 1997. It was also awarded the best biographical film at the National Film Awards that year.

He tried his hands at acting in Halodiya Choraye Baodhan Khaye directed by internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Jahnu Barua. The film was awarded Swarnakamal (Best Film) at the prestigious National Film Awards.

A staff reporter