The origin of Assamese Cinema can be traced back to the dreams and imagination of a revolutionary visionary Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala, who was also a distinguished poet, playwright, composer and freedom fighter. He was instrumental in the production of the first Assamese Film “Joymati”, under the banner of Critrakala Movietone. Due to the lack of trained technicians, Jyotiprasad, while making his maiden film, had to shoulder the added responsibilities as the script writer, producer, director, choreographer, editor, set and costume designer, lyricist and music director. The film, completed with a budget of Rupees Sixty thousand and was released on March 10th, 1935. The picture failed miserably. It is unfortunate that like so many early Indian films , the negatives and complete prints of Joymati are missing.
Not withstanding the failure of his venture, Jyotiprasad made another film after a lapse of two years titled “Indramalati (1939)”. It was his second and last film. The eminent composer and singer of Assam Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, played a stellar role in the play. With the passing away of Jyotiprasad, the Assamese film scene witnessed a temporary lull for about a couple of years. But things changed with the onset of war, Taking advantage of this, the Late Rohini Kr. Baruah made a film on a relevant historical topic called “Manomati (1941)”. It was followed by films like Parvati Baruah’s Rupahi (1946), Kamal Narayan choudhury’s Badan Barphukan (1947), Phani Sharma’s Sjiraj, Asit Sen’s Biplabi, Prabin Phukan’s Parghat Suresh Goswami’s Runumi etc.
But the most remarkable film of the fifties was Piyali Phukan which went on to win a National award. In 1955, a new talent Nip Barua made his directorial debut with Smrit Paras. His subsequent films Mak Aaru Moram and Ranga Police bagged many state awards and the silver medal at the national level. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika also produced and directed his first film Era Batur Sur. Prabhat Mukherjee made a film on the universality of mother-hood, Puberan (1959).,which was shown in The Berlin Film Festival. The next memorable production was Lachit Borphukan by Sarbeswar Chakraborty. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika made his unforgettable musical lore Shakuntala (1961) which proved equally successful with critics and the press. It also won president’s silver medal. Following this, a chain of films went into regular production and got released which included Nip Barua’s Narakasur, Anil Choudhury’s Matri Swarga, Brojen Barua’s Itu Setu Bahuto and Mukta & Anwar Hussain’s Tejmala.
By the middle of the sixties, film were produced in Assam on a regular basis. It should also be mentioned here that between 1935 ad to 1970 a total of 62 films were produced. Besides the film makers already referred to, many others engaged in film making during the period included Pravin Sharma, Saila Barua, Abdul Mazid, Amar Pathak, Indukal Pattazarika, Diben Barua, Debkumar Basu, Amulya Manna, Gauri Barman, Atul Bardoloi, Sujit Singh, Nalin Duara and Prafulla Barua.
During the period of 1970-82 a total of 57 Assamese films were made. New directors started emerging on the horizon. Samarendra Narayan Deb’s Aranya (1970), Kamal Choudhury’s Bhaity (1972) the first colour film of Assam, Manoranjan Sur’s Uttaran (1973), Deuti Barua’s Bristi (1974) Pulok Gogoi’s Khoj (1974) Padam Barua’s Ganga Chilanir Pakhi (1976) and Dr. Bhabendranath Saikia’s Sandhya Rag (1977) and Atul Bordoloi’s Kollol (1978) are films worth – mentioning.
The outstanding directors of contemporary Assamese Cinema are Jahnu Baruah (Aparoopa, Papori, Haladhia Choraye Baodhan Khai, Banani, Firingoti, Hkhagoroloi Bohu Door); Sanjeev Hazarika (Haladhar, Meemanxa); Bhabendaranatha Saikia (Anirbaan, Agnisnaan, Sarothi, Kolahol, Abartan, Itihaas, Kaal Sandhya) Dr. Santwana Bordoloi (Adajya) and Bidyut Chakraborty (Rag Birag). Their Films have won National & International Awards