TEZPUR: Debutant director Akanshya Bhagabati’s short film Kumu-The Song of a Wingless Bird was screened at the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Tezpur University on February 12.
Set against the lush green tea gardens of Assam, the short film follows the lives of a 12-year-old Adivasi girl, Kumu, who was forced to forsake her education and carefree life owing to familial circumstances.
Disturbed by regular conflicts between her drunkard father and a diligent mother, she is also burdened with the responsibility of looking after her younger sister.
With her little sister on her lap and the regular hardships she has to face, Kumu turns into a withdrawn girl. She walks through the lanes of the green tea garden beneath the azure sky and attempts to escape her harsh reality.
Parthajit Baruah, who is also an Indian member of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), praised the film for its social value and appreciated the debut director’s effort.
“I wish Akanshya a bright future so that she can make everyone of us proud, including her friends and family and the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Tezpur University along with the society and Assam”, he said.
Through the journey of Kumu, the film focuses on how the Adivasi children living in the tea gardens of Assam are deprived of their childhood happiness and hopes, beauty and parental care and are even forbidden from dreaming of a life beyond their predetermined fate.
Akanshya Bhagabati, who has previously worked as an assistant director in Parthajit Baruah’s The Children of God, and also a final year student of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Tezpur University said, “I have not attended any film school, but the story that I have attempted to express here is very special to me, and it is this concept that has given me the strength and enthusiasm to turn it into a film. The entire journey has been a learning process for me from the masters of their field”.
She hopes that the film will be well received and expressing the power of good cinema she added, “I will be forever committed to my struggles and cause of bringing social issues to the forefront with cinema”.
Made in Sadri language, the major 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.
National Award-winning singer Tarali Sarma, who is the music director of Kumu- The Song of a Wingless Bird, appreciated the cinematic choices and sensibilities of Akanshya Bhagabati as well as the performance of Nayanmoni Mura.
“She has conveyed the emotions so meaningfully with only her looks that it is worthy of all praise”, she said.
She also shared her experiences of working in the film and said, “The film is designed and narrated in such a way that any usage of sound would disrupt the flow. As a result, it just required minor sound enhancements, and all I did was added a few finishing touches and a bit of a song for the film.”
Sarma also praised Suraj Duara’s color grading of the film. “Today color grading plays a very significant role in cinema and yet whatever we do, cinema is ultimately the director’s medium. So we have only attempted to achieve Akanshya’s vision. As a result, she deserves all of the credit for it”, said National Award winner Suraj Duara.
“The movie’s overall flow is natural, as are the locations Therefore, I attempted to keep things as natural as possible, also keeping in mind Akanshya’s vision”, said Debajit Gayan.
Also present at the event was Nayanmoni Mura who played the role of Kumu in the film. She shared her experiences of working in the film as a beautiful experience and said, “When I get home, I’ll tell my friends and family that I looked great on-screen and that I had a good time.”
Shot in and across Dhontula Tea Estate near Nagaon in Assam, the cinematography of the film is credited to Chida Bora who has previously worked in Jaicheng Jai Dohutia’s National Award-winning drama Haanduk-The Hidden Corner.
The editing is done by Hirak Jyoti Pathak. The assistant director of the film is Rupam Saikia and the location sound was recorded by Diky Kashyap with Himangshu Kakati and Deepjyoti Kakoti as production managers.