Silpi Divas, celebrated each year on January 17, is a significant day in Assam. It was the day when Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla passed away in 1951. Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, the first filmmaker and a Marwar from Rajasthan, is the “Rupkonwar” of Assam. He was a true Assamese at heart, despite the fact that his ancestors arrived in Assam in 1811 from Rajasthan.
Jyoti Prasad was born on June 17, 1903, to Kiranmayee and Paramananda Agarwala in Dibrugarh. On the day of his death, he truly left a void that has never been filled. It is sad that we lost him so soon. He was only 49 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. But his legacy remains in the hearts of every Assamese to this day. His life was short, but he paved the way for future artists in a variety of areas of culture, including theatre, literature, filmmaking, lyrics, music composition, etc. He fell in love with the culture, and his contribution to performance art is tremendous. The music and film industry of Assam would not be the same without him.
Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala has drawn inspiration from the works of such playwrights as T.S. Eliot, Henrik Ibsen, Bernard Shaw, and John Galsworthy. Incorporating the elaborate stage directions, settings, and backgrounds of western dramatists like Ibsen, he radically reworked the conventions of Assamese theater. There is also speculation that Galsworthy was the model for Karengar Ligiri's realistic stage design.
After settling in Tezpur in 1934, he opened the Chitaraban Studio on the Bholaguri Tea Estate. His first film, "Joymoti," an Assamese film, was released in 1935, making him the first filmmaker in the state. He opened a movie theater in Tezpur in 1937 under the name "Junaki." His follow-up film, 'Indramalati,' released in 1939, was a huge hit at the time. His other accomplishment was the revival of Asomiya, a newspaper that had been suppressed in 1944. Quite a few of his works are intended for young readers too. His other works include the plays Lobhita, Karengar Ligiri, and Rupalim.
Jyoti Prasad Agarwala has written some fantastic poetry as well. The vast majority of the 300 songs written by him also feature original music compositions by him. The songs in this compilation are known as Jyoti Sangeet. Later, it evolved into a new musical genre in Assam. Government officials proposed constructing India's first public sector studio in Guwahati's outskirts in 1961 as a tribute to Jyotiprasad. The studio was named “Jyoti Chitrabon."
This year, Assam is celebrating the official Silpi Divas event at the Assam Agricultural University. The Minister of Cultural Affairs has announced numerous awards that will be presented at the event. Renowned musicians Rajen Gohain and Pokhila Lekthepi will receive the Silpi Award (2023), and Pranjal Saikia will receive the Natasurya Phani Sarma Award (2022). The Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia Award 2022 will be conferred on the eminent actor, Arun Nath, while the Biju Phukan Award 2022 will be granted to noted filmmaker Samarendra Narayan Deb. Renowned author Mileshwar Patar will receive the Bhimbor Deori Award in 2022. Along with that, 50 artists deserving of recognition for their work in the cultural sphere would receive a monthly Silpi Pension of Rs 8,000. In addition, the cultural affairs minister revealed the names of the 152 bereaved families of deceased artists who will receive a one-time special pension of Rs 50,000 in 2022-23, as well as the recipients of the Barxik Silpi Sanman, a yearly award of Rs 50,000.