The issue of immigration still poses a major concern for the state of Assam since our country attained independence. The state had witnessed violence on several occasions over the issue of identifying the ‘foreigners’ or illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. This violence was witnessed during the Assam Agitation, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests and others.
Among these, the most violent protests on this count broke out on February 18, 1983, leading to a horrific bloodbath known as the Nellie Massacre. Nearly 2,000 people belonging to the minority community of Bengal origin were slaughtered within six hours in Nellie.
Several people of the late 1990’s or 21st century are unaware of the horrific violence but the ones who have witnessed or heard of it try to divert the topic as it reminds them of the bloodbath, the violence and the horror.
As cinema is considered to be one of the mediums to aware, teach the masses about history, issues and others, an independent filmmaker attempts to make the people of today’s century aware of one of the most violent riots that took place in Assam.
Parthajit Baruah, an independent filmmaker and director produced a movie based on the Nellie Massacre with the title ‘The Nellie Story’. The poster and trailer of the movie were released on Monday during a poster release event organized at Gauhati Press Club in the presence of acclaimed Indian female filmmaker from Assam, Manju Borah; Assamese actor, Kapil Borah; and Editor-in-Chief of Pratidin Time, Nitumoni Saikia.
The event started with the theme song of the movie sung by Anurag Barua followed by the speech of the director of the movie, Parthajit Baruah.
In his speech, Baruah mentioned how people are still afraid of pronouncing the term ‘Nellie’. While speaking about the Nellie Massacre, Baruah stressed that ‘The Nellie Story’ is not a pro-Muslim, anti-Muslim, pro-Hindu or anti-Hindu movie but it is rather based on humanity.
Two posters were made for the movie, illustration and theatrical. The illustration poster, created by Kowsick Borgohain, was unveiled by filmmaker Manju Borah.
After unveiling the poster, Borah revealed about the time she was living with her daughter alone while her husband was away for work purposes and narrated how scary it had been.
Agreeing with Parthajit Baruah, Manju said, “I agree with Parthajit of how people are still frightened to pronounce the term ‘Nellie’ in their mouth. This word itself has become a taboo.”
Speaking on the previous works done by the movie director, Manju said, “He always tries to make movies on issues that happened in the past and are unknown by many which is commendable.”
Her speech was followed by the unveiling of the theatrical poster by Assamese actor Kapil Bora. Bora said, “I saw a horrific photo of the Nellie Massacre in India Today when I was young. I still try to avoid it because it still wreaks my heart to date.”
He further said, “Sometimes I fear that someday someone from outside Assam would me a question whether there is a thing such as Assamese movies? I hope the industry flourishes with more Assamese movies soon.”
The trailer of the movie was released by Nitumoni Saikia who after watching said, “The incidents and issues of the past can be presented in front of the younger generations through three mediums. These are journalists (by collecting facts and conducting investigations), litterateurs (via short stories or novels) and cinema.”
Saikia said, “I am not a filmmaker, actor, film critic or involved in this industry in any way but I am an audience. An audience who enjoys watching films. Of course, there are good films and bad films. As far as I have watched the trailer, I assume and hope that ‘The Nellie Story’ is not a propaganda movie but rather it brings a sense of humanity that often gets overlooked during war.”
Agreeing with Saikia, the lead actor of the movie, ‘Aamis’ fame Arghadeep Baruah said, “I am born in the generation when I not exposed to the idea of ‘Nellie’ but thankfully, while working for this movie I got to know the incident. When movies are made to spread propaganda, we should consider what we want to perceive or watch as despite several categories of movies, at the end of the day we categorize it into a good or a bad movie.”
The movie ‘The Nellie Story’ will be released in theatres on December 8.