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By LIFE IS A STAGE FOR THE EVERGREEN HERO OF ASSAMESE CINEMA, WRITES DAULAT RAHMAN
  • Published 24.03.04
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Nipon Goswami

For Nipon Goswami, the evergreen artiste of Assamese celluloid, life is a stage and everyone is an actor. And even at the age of 60 he is not tired and confident of playing lead roles both in the realm of reel and the real.

Accepting the compliment of being a “evergreen hero” gracefully, he says he is only a survivor. But it is a tough job to survive in the world of “lights and camera” and given the success he has scaled with his optimism, zeal and effort, one can say that he is to Assamese cinema what Amitabh Bachchan is to Bollywood.

Making his debut in acting at the age of seven in the film Piyali Phukan, Nipon has since travelled far on the bumpy road of Assamese film industry’s ups and downs. Success came Goswami’s way smoothly after Sangram in 1967.

An alumni of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, Nipon has given several memorable hits like Dr Bezbaruah, Ajali Nabou and Jibon Surabhi. He has acted in more than 79 films, including television serials and telefilms. He has been accorded the lifetime achievement award by Jyotirupa.

He went to Mumbai in 1973 in search of greener pastures. It was a mixed experience and he signed seven Hindi films. In Joggo, I played the role of the brother of actress Leena Chandravarkar. In another film, Do Anjane, where Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were in the lead roles, I put in a guest appearance. The rest of the films either remained incomplete or were not released later,” he said. Mumbai taught Nipon many things. Among other things, he witnessed different stages of the film industry and facets of celebrity life.

“Acting comes naturally to me,” says Nipon. Unlike most actors, he never uses glycerine in place of tears. “A good actor merges his soul with the character he plays,” he adds.

Bengal also beckoned Goswami and he acted in four Bengali movies, including Duranta Chorai and Tushar Tirtha Amarnath. He feels proud that he acted in films under the direction of Prabhat Mukherjee and Salil Sen. After a brief but memorable innings in Bollywood and Tollywood, Nipon returned to Assam.

“I am not boasting. But I was the most sought-after actor at that time. Love for my land and sweet Assamese language had drawn me,” he said.

Goswami also acted in television serials, including Ritu Aahe Rityu Jai, Bijoya, Trikal, Deuta and Suraj Mukhir Sapno. He has also played the role of a gosain in Ruma Ghosh’s Hindi serial Kamrup ki Kahani based on Mamoni Raisom Goswami’s novel Datal Hatir Wuiye Khowa Howda, which was telecast on the national network.

At present, living a simple life with wife Ranjeeta and 14-year-old son Siddhartha, Nipon rues over the lack of professionalism and dedication among a section of the present genre of artistes. “They are earning money, but not cultivating values such as respect for elders. Lobbying has made an entry into a profession like cinema. It is unfortunate,” he says.

He also feels sorry for young filmmakers who are always in a hurry to complete a film and do not care for a good script or the intensity of acting in lead roles.

Nipon’s commanding personality comes through when he emphasises on dedication to make a performance effective. Though he has graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Nipon never shies away from admitting his mistakes and learning from them. “I used to sit with my directors and discuss the roles. I love imagining everything and whenever I got time from shooting, I used to imagine my characters. It worked for me as I was able to detect my faults,” he said.

A believer in God, Nipon does not drink. He also avoids parties. Acting, he says, is the essence of life for him. “After camera and lights, I devote myself to the upbringing of my son who is a Class IX student at Don Bosco school here,” he adds.

A contemporary of Bollywood heroes like Shatrughan Sinha, Nabin Nischal and Danny, Nipon was given several offers to join politics. But every time he said no.

“Politics is not my cup of tea. If someone, however, joins politics I have nothing to say,” he said.

The actor feels sad about the sharp reaction music maestro Bhupen Hazarika’s joining the BJP has evoked.

He wonders how can people be so sarcastic about the music maestro who has made immense contribution not only towards art and culture, but also towards the overall development of Assamese society. “Bhupenda may do more good to Assam after becoming an MP,” he adds.

On his regrets in life, Nipon feels he could have earned more money if he had stayed on in Mumbai and pursued a career in Bollywood. However, “my real regret is that the Assamese film industry has never grown the way it should have. We had artists like Pramathesh Baruah”, he says.

The first Assamese film Joymoti was made by late Jyotiprasad Agarwalla only a couple of years after the making of the Hindi film Alam Ara.

But there was no mention of it in the book on 100 years of Indian cinema or during the function organised to commemorate the event in Mumbai, he points out.

He does not spare the banned Ulfa either. According to him, imposing a ban on the screening of Hindi films by militant outfits would not help the regional movies. “Putting restrictions on screening of movies will not help in any way to do away with vulgarity,” he says.

Nipon who had resorted to a four-day hungerstrike to force the government to set up Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio and Society is also not happy with the organisation’s present state of affairs.

According to him, serious artistes and non-political personalities should head the studio so that it may develop in the right perspective.

The actor’s vast popularity among artistes of all ages reflects his accommodating nature. The directors say Nipon is flexible and progressive in his approach. His easygoing nature makes other artistes feel comfortable on the sets of a film. He is not very choosy about roles and loves to perform any character that carries meaning and depth.

On his future plans, Nipon says he loves to see himself on the stage more than anything else. “But directing a film is one of my few wishes. I am planning to direct films and am looking for producers”.

A caring husband and father and a prolific actor, Nipon is always inspired by Robert Frost’s poem: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have … miles to go before I sleep”.