An Assamese feature film highlighting the menace of witch-hunting, which has claimed hundreds of lives in many rural areas, has received all-round appreciation from cine-lovers across the state.
"Aei Maatite", directed and produced by noted playwright Sitanath Lahkar, has stirred the conscience of cine-goers who are hopeful that the film will chart a positive course in resolving the issue.
"Hundreds of people in Assam have lost their lives in the name of witch-hunting, and this is the reason why I chose it as the subject of my first feature film with the hope that people will become aware of the problem," Lahkar, a former principal of the prestigious Cotton College here, told PTI.
Witch-hunting is a big challenge as it is born out of superstition and all-round backwardness of people which is aggravated by a small powerful section of society with the help of sorcerers, he said.
"Aei Maatite" is an adaptation of Lahkar's acclaimed stage play "Tamasaa" and he has also written the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics. The film released on October 6.
"The initial response along with the appreciation to the three trailers released earlier has boosted our morale and it proves that people appreciate stories which are real and with which they can connect," Lahkar said.
This is the first Assamese full-length feature film on the burning issue, which stems from superstition coupled with greed and personal grudge of certain criminal gangs.
"'Aei Maatite' delivers a strong message against witch- hunting, upholding the value of scientific temperament and human life," Lahkar added.
The highlight of the film is the introduction of new faces in lead roles - with Monisha Goswami playing the female lead, Jhon Narzary the lead negative role and the lead male character is portrayed by Rupam Chetia.
"It has always been my endeavour to bring in newcomers in my projects and their energy definitely boosted the entire production unit," Lahkar said.
Their performance does not give an iota of hint that it is their first feature film and "as a director, I am happy that they delivered to the maximum of their capability", he added.
The film with more than 100 characters, mostly newcomers, also has the added attraction of featuring four prominent student leaders of the state.
AASU leader Lurinjyoti Gogoi, ABSU leader Pramod Boro, SFI leader Nirangkush Nath and Chatra Mukti leader Bittu Sonowal have acted in the film and appealed to people to watch the film as it as "our collective social responsibility to stop and eliminate witch-hunting menace from Assam".
A special screening of the film was held for crusader against elimination of witch-hunting, Birubala Rabha, who was overwhelmed by the film and appealed to Lahkar to ensure that it is screened in those areas where witch-hunting is prevalent.
The film was shot at six locations - Joypur village in Rani, Guwahati, Dimoria, Panikhaiti, Mayong and the rural landscape of the state has been beautifully captured in the film.
The five musical tracks, composed by Lahkar and eminent musician Bibhuranjan Choudhury, add to the cinematic experience.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)