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Assamese feature film 'Ishu', premiered at the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) as part of the Competition section in Indian Language films, brings into focus the medieval practice of witch hunting in the country. Director Utpal Borpujari said, "Ishu is a children's feature film which deals with the subject purely from a child's point of view.. "In Assam, it usually happens in rural areas. Either they beat up people and throw them out or they just kill, many a times by beheading," Borpujari said. Ishu is Borpujari's debut feature film. He said in most cases, a woman is branded a witch for reasns like grabbing the land and if she happens to be a young widow, then there is sexual assault as well. 'Ishu', produced by Children's Film Society, has been shot in remote tribal hamlets of the state, Borpujari said.
Borpujari is also a film critic and former journalist having worked with different media organisations. He said the government, different political parties and student bodies were creating awareness about the social evil constantly. Referring to the story line, Borpujari said, the film centres around the world of young Ishu, his pet dog Bhalu, his friends and 'Ambika aunty'. However, his world turns topsy turvy when Ambika is branded a witch, beaten up and goes missing. "My film like the literary work sees the happenings from the child's point of view. And if you see from a child's point of view, you can get an unbiased view," he said. Ishu was premiered at KIFF on Sunday. Ishu is based on renowned Assamese writer Manikuntala Bhattacharjya's popular novel of the same name and was screened in Indian Language section. Its cast include Kapil Garo, Bishnu Khargoria, Leishangthem Devi, Chetana Das among others. Borpujari, who had previously made several documentary fims, complimented the KIFF authorities for introducing the 'Rare Language Indian Films' category where eight films in Garo, Boro, Chakma, Dogri, Konkani, Kodava, Maithili and Khasi were screened. The films from different Northeastern states in their own dialects project the unique lifestyle and culture of the people of the region and should reach out to bigger audiences, he said.
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