Assamese film ‘Wide Angle’ Bringing Anti-foreigners Movement to Life

The camera never lies. A vital attribute that never goes unnoticed is the accompanying photographs to a news story in the print media. It’s the photographs that arouse interests and bring a certain amount of credibility, which in turn, contribute to the success of a news story. Always duty-bound, hardworking and dedicated, photo-journalists are always expected to supply a continuous stream of photographs, and under any circumstances. Distinguished literary doyen Dr Nagen Saikia’s much admired and widely read story, written in the 80s – ‘Staff Photographeror Chobi’, which has been translated into numerous Indian and foreign languages over the years, has now been adapted into a movie, the much-anticipated Assamese film ‘Wide Angle’, which will be released across Assam on March 22.

Set in the backdrop of the anti-foreigners movement of 1983, which raged all over the state, the film depicts the life story of an honest, ideal, courageous and sincere photo-journalist working for a local newspaper. Produced by Debajyoti Bora under the banner of Swavalamban Media and Entertainment, the film is directed by eminent music director Jayanta Nath.

News media is the fourth pillar of democracy, and a photo-journalist’s job involves immense responsibility. The story showcases the incessant pressures and multifarious problems confronting Dilip Bhagawati in his day-to-day life as a husband and photo-journalist. A respectable name in press photography, Bhagawati has to endure failures for many reasons. Like every middle-class family, he and his wife too have dreams and aspirations, but are struggling to keep their heads above water. Confronted by an ethical dilemma in his office, should he act according to his conscience or pander to the whims and fancies of the powers that be?

Bhagawati’s agony increases when a student leader from a neighbour’s family, with whom he and his wife Antara have a sweet relationship, comes to stay with them and is hounded by the police every night. In the meantime, a human relationship is formed between the boy and the childless family of Bhagawati. The film attempts to show the sacrifices that the family is forced to make because of this.

The anti-foreigners agitation, which started in 1979 and formally ended on August 15, 1985, has now stepped into its 45th year. History, over the course of 45 years, has covered this nationalist movement with great care and compassion. This movement has now become a story for today’s generation. Many students had to endure inhuman tortures in police custody for days resulting in serious mental health disorders and physical disabilities, even deaths.

The movement had a profound impact on writers, poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, dramatists and other artistes, who found expressions for their art, producing works that are considered classic today. However, on a closer look, good, meaningful Assamese movies, narratives that raises the purpose, the background, the cultural and the socio-economic changes, the new psychological ideas, and most importantly, the evolutionary changes among the youths brought about by this movement, which saw so many Assamese dedicating themselves, sacrificing their precious lives for its very cause, still haven’t been covered or tackled yet!

Since it has been almost 45 years since the movement happened, there shouldn’t be any obstacle in the making of films that makes a critical analysis of that period in the present context.

However, it’s heartening to know that an Assamese film is now being made keeping this thought in mind.

It will be interesting to see how the director has validated a beautiful story made in the backdrop of the Assam movement.

It will be equally fascinating to observe how a versatile artiste like Tapan Das approaches the role of the protagonist, a truthful and courageous staff photographer who believes in honest journalism.

The various other roles in ‘Wide Angle’ are played by Aparna Dutta Choudhury, Pabitra Baruah, Jolly Laskar, Dipankar Roy, Dhyani Mohan, Zubeen Garg, Geetawali Rajkumari, Rajiv Goswami, etc. The  film’s script, written by Pankajyoti Bhuyan, has been created in accordance with the tastes of the modern-day audiences. The cinematography has been done by Suman Dowerah, editing by Debojit Dutta, costumes by Juri Rani Nath, while music has been directed by Jayanta Nath, lyrics by Mrigen Borkotoky, art direction by Bichitra Bora and Manash Borthakur, makeup by Biswa Saikia, VFX by Shubhayan Chandra, DI Colour by Sujit Karmakar and still-photography by Pallav Mahanta.

The film’s immensely popular song “Joi Aai Axom” has already crossed over 1 lakh views across platforms within a month! Another song from the film – “Purbobharoti”, released on various platforms, has also found popular appeal with the viewers.

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