Jatinga Ityadi (2007)

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Assamese Cinema, Bhishnu Khargoria, North East Cinema


Film on ULFA script going haywire makes it to Indian Panorama

An armed underground rebel group draws up a strategy to create an “international dhamaka” and kidnaps a British couple who had come to Assam looking for a graveyard where the man’s grandfather, a tea planter, lies buried. Unable to communicate with the foreigners, the outfit picks up an educated but frustrated youth who speaks English. Eager to be a part of change, this youth readily jumps in. But once in the hideout, he discovers a totally different picture and decides to work to free the British couple.This in brief is the outline of Jatinga Ityadi, an Assamese feature film made by Sanjib Sabhapandit, that has found place in the Indian Panorama section of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2007. It is also a film that probably reflects, without any hesitation, the disgust and hatred that the common man in Assam has developed against armed militancy.

“My film is just an honest depiction of what is happening across Assam,” says Sabhapandit, an entrepreneur-turned-filmmaker, whose film has already earned accolades after having been screened in at least three prestigious festivals, MAMI, Pune and Thrissur. Sabhapandit incidentally belongs to the same generation as several top ULFA leaders including its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and armed wing chief Paresh Barua.

“It is a simple depiction of present-day reality. I have no axe to grind with the ULFA. This is just a portrayal of real-life situation vis-à-vis armed militancy and people’s sufferings arising out of it,” Sabhapandit says.

Sabhapandit, however, has no pretensions in saying that the armed movement had seriously affected every village in Assam. “How long will we remain silent? Will you allow people to be killed this way?” asks Rita, the lead female character in the film as her brother is shot for not paying money to the militants.

And, inside the rebel hideout, Manab, the educated-but-jobless hero discovers that the idea he had of the militant group and its “struggle for independence” was entirely wrong. And he tries to help the British couple escape, in the process getting killed in a crossfire that also takes the lives of all the militants present in the scene.

“It is definitely a holistic representation of the crisis that the Assamese society is passing through,” says Noni Gopal Mahanta, coordinator at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Gauhati University.

“Sabhapandit’s film is also a touching interpretation of a big dream that the ULFA had given to the people of Assam, and an honest depiction of how removed it was from reality,” says Mahanta, who has recently obtained a Ph.D for his doctoral thesis on the ULFA. “The film also points at the insensitivity of the state in tackling the situation,” he adds.

However, Sabhapandit’s is not the first film that has been made with the ULFA as the backdrop. Dinesh Gogoi’s Surya Tejor Anya Naam, released in 1991, was the first film on militancy in Assam. In 1999, noted filmmaker Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s Hindi film Kaalsandhya looked into how a society was suffering due to rise of armed militancy. Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se too had militancy in Assam as the backdrop.


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