Debut director Akanshya Bhagabati’s short film “Kumu-The Song of a Wingless Bird” was screened at Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Tezpur University on February 12 in the presence of renowned film critic and filmmaker Parthajit Baruah , national award-winning singer Tarali Sarma, national award-winning sound designer Debajit Gayan and national award-winning filmmaker Suraj Duara, among others.
Set in the lush green tea gardens of Assam, the short film follows the life of a 12-year-old Adivasi girl, Kumu, who was forced to give up her education and carefree life due to family circumstances.
Troubled by regular conflicts between her drunken father and a diligent mother, Kumu is also burdened with the responsibility of caring for her younger sister. With her little sister on her lap and the regular hardships she has to deal with, Kumu turns into a withdrawn girl. She walks through the alleys of the green tea garden under the azure sky and tries to escape her harsh reality.
Parthajit Baruah, who is also a member of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), praised the film for its social value and appreciated the effort of the first director. “I wish Akanshya a bright future so she can make everyone proud,” he said.
Through Kumu’s journey, the film focuses on how Adivasi children living in Assam’s tea gardens are deprived of childhood happiness and hopes, beauty and parental care and are even banned to dream of a life beyond their predetermined destiny.
Akanshya Bhagabati, who previously worked as an assistant director in Parthajit Baruah’s ‘Children of God’, and also a final year student in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Tezpur University, said: “I don’t I didn’t go to any film school, but the story I’ve tried to tell here is very special to me, and it’s this concept that gave me the strength and the enthusiasm to make a film out of it. The whole trip was for me a process of learning from the masters of their field”.
She hopes the film will be well received and express the power of good cinema. “I will forever be committed to my struggles and cause to bring social issues to the fore with film,” she added.
Made in Sadri language, the main cast of the short film includes Geeta Bhumis Munda, Dibika Mura, Debessor Bhumis, Arjun Munda among others. The titular role of the little girl is played by Nayanmoni Mura.
The faculty of Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Tezpur University, Abhijit Bora, appreciated the cinematography and sound design of the film and encouraged the students to engage in other such projects. “This movie is an example. I would really like Akanshya’s bandmates and juniors to take more such initiatives in the future,” he added.
National award-winning singer Tarali Sarma, who is the musical director of ‘Kumu-The Song of a Wingless Bird’, appreciated Akanshya Bhagabati’s cinematic choices and sensibility as well as Nayanmoni Mura’s performance. “She conveyed emotions so significantly with just her looks that it deserves all the praise,” she said.
She also shared her experiences working in the film and said, “The film is designed and told in such a way that any use of sound would disrupt the flow. As a result, it only needed minor sound enhancements, and all I did was add some finishing touches and a little song for the movie.
Sarma also praised Suraj Duara’s color grading of the film. “Today, color grading plays a very important role in cinema and yet, whatever we do, cinema is ultimately the medium of the director. So, we only tried to realize Akanshya’s vision. As a result, she deserves full credit for this,” said national winner Suraj Duara.
“The overall flow of the film is natural, as are the locations. Therefore, I tried to keep things as natural as possible, also keeping Akanshya’s vision in mind,” said Debajit Gayan.
Also present at the event was Nayanmoni Mura who played the role of Kumu in the film. She shared her experiences working in film as a great experience and said, “When I get home I will tell my friends and family that I looked great on screen and spent a good moment.”
Shot in and through Dhontula Tea Estate near Nagaon in Assam, the film’s cinematography is credited to Chida Bora who previously worked in Jaicheng Jai Dohutia’s award-winning national drama “Haanduk-The Hidden Corner”. Editing is done by Hirak Jyoti Pathak. The film’s assistant director is Rupam Saikia and the location sound was recorded by Diky Kashyap with Himangshu Kakati and Deepjyoti Kakoti serving as production managers.