The glorious history of Assamese cinema dates back to the dreams and imagination of veteran filmmaker, play writer, poet, composer and freedom fighter Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.
Jyoti Prasad Agarwala holds the credit of bringing the tale of Joymoti Konwari to the screen. Through his film, Agarwala set a benchmark in the arena.
Today ‘Joymoti’, the first ever film to be released in Assamese Cinema completed 88 years of its journey. The movie explores the travails of a seventeenth century princess who suffered immense torture, for she refuses to betray her husband and children.
The pain in her survival period can be seen and felt in the movie. Till date, ‘Joymoti’ remains a nationalist film that attempts to create a cultural world using the tender elements of Assamese Society.
Besides, applauses and admiration from a section of society, the one of its kind work of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala brought him debts as it didn’t worked commercially. Despite an alluring theme, the lack of clarity in the dialogue that occurred due to some sorts of technical glitch failed to attract the audience.
At the same time the movie’s lead actress had to cope with social obloquy and expulsion for years. The society bashed her with criticisms for as acting was not a thing to do for women back then. Besides, addressing the male lead as ‘Bongohor Deu’ made it worse for her.
The projection in the film’s storyline resembled the situations which were prevalent in India during the British rule in 1930. Consequently, the realistic depiction in the film was a political approach. It spoke the opposite of the theatrical style of acting, costume and sets, which at that time were the dominant features of Indian films. Cinematic content of productions in other Indian regions were also overtly religious, based on mythology. In a contrary, Joymoti was based on real historical materials. However, even if we turn the text pages today, history books have remained silent about a particular lady named Joymoti.
‘Joymoti’ was for the first time premiered on March 10, 1935 at the Rounak Mahal in Calcutta. The film was shot at a family owned Tea estate named Bholaguri Tea Estate. Later in 1934, the estate was converted into a film studio which was named as Chitralekha Movietone.
It is to be mentioned that, while making ‘Joymoti’ Agarwala was carving a regional aesthetic that also belongs to the international gallery which acknowledges new and experimental ideas and methods in art, music and literature.