End of a glorious chapter in Assamese celluloid

A glorious chapter in the history of Assamese celluloid came to an end recently. The first female film director of the State and the queen of the Beltola royal family Subrapha Devi passed away at a city nursing home earlier this week.
Born to Late Jogendra Kumar Rajkhowa and Late Swarnaprabha Rajkhowa in the oil township of Digboi, late Suprabha Devi got energetically involved in the world of films after her marriage with Late Dwijendra Narayan Dev of the Beltola Royal family of Guwahati. She assisted her late husband in the production and distribution of several super hit commercial Assamese films. Her real journey in the world of celluloid, however, began with Jog Biyog (1970), Toramai (1975), Moromi (1976) and Rangdhali (1979). She donned the director’s hat in 1984 for Nayanmoni whereby she became the State’s first female director and was awarded the Shilpi Divas award.

Reminiscing about her association with the late filmmaker, Rupjyoti Sharma, the actress of Toramai, says, “I shared a very close relationship with baideu and she regarded me as her own daughter. She was the one who marked my entry into the world of films as the film Toramai, where she launched me, went on to become a super-duper hit, running for more than twenty-four weeks in theatre halls.” She further adds, “It took a lot of courage for women to venture into the world of filmmaking at that point of time in our State’s history. Baideu herself guided and encouraged me a lot. She had played a major role in persuading my parents to enter the world of films.”

Not only films, her interest extended to the world of music as well. A lyricist of repute and a lover of good Assamese folk music, she could be seen spending several hours with Late Nirmalprabha Bordoloi, Late D’bon Baruah and Ramen Baruah improvising typical Bihu tunes and lyrics for the songs of her films, many of which are still regarded as evergreen numbers. Her determination and experimental nature of mind came to the forefront in 1986 when she produced and directed a full-length feature film Sarabjaan, which was based on a popular Assamese folk tale with the same name and which was compiled by Rasaraaj Lakhshminath Bezbaruah.

As a director and producer, Suprabha Devi’s contribution to the Assamese film world is unparalleled. Not only films, once television made its entry in this part of the world she also produced and directed several documentaries and television serials. While her thematic stories on screen enthralled cinegoers, she was also highly popular among the artistes and technicians for her behaviour off the screen.

Suprabha Devi is survived by her son Indrajit Narayan Dev, daughter-in-law Vikeyano Zao and two grandchildren. Both her son and daughter-in-law are noted filmmakers, with a number of documentaries, features and short films to their credit. The husband-wife dup also enjoy the distinction of being the only filmmakers from the Northeast to have two of their films, ‘Last of the Tattooed Head Hunters’ and ‘This Land we call our Home’, screened in the prestigious Cannes film festival.

To this day, Suprabha Devi’s energetic involvement in film and television has set a new horizon and inspiration to many young and upcoming talents to absorbed themselves in music and film making and many youngsters have recently brought pride and glory to the Assamese film industry and the Assamese society as a whole.


About Aiyushman Dutta

Who am I? Yet to find the answer. For the time being, u can call me a writer, maybe a journalist and a music entrepreneur or an errand boy! Whatever suits your fancy!

Posted on July 1, 2011, in Day-to-Day, Personalities/ Interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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