The long race that the octogenarian Nipon Goswami began as Child Artist in 1957 with Piyoli Phukan directed by Phani Sarma finally came to a glorious close as the evergreen Matinee idol reigning the stardom of Assamese Assam with Lankakanda released in 2022 directed by Rajani Sarma, In the world of the Assamese entertainment industry, his name represents one of the most glorious eras of Assamese cinema. He is the first formally trained actor in the Assamese Film Industry and is credited with acting in the highest number of Assamese films, serials, stage shows and television serials. He has spent more than 50 years in this industry.

He acted in 46 films including the blockbusters like Mukuta Maanab aru  Daanab, Sandhyarag, Ajoi Nabou, Apraupa , Ghar Sngsar and Shakuntala Sankar, Joseph Ali and inBhabendranath Saikia’s Kaal Sandhya. Kakaideuta  Nati aru Hati was his most popular film. It was released during the peak period of Assam Agitation in 1983.

Born in Tezpur to an actor father and a singer mother, Goswami made his acting debut as a child actor in the Assamese film Piyoli Phukan.In Bollywood, he was a co-actor in Do Bhai, a Jitendra –starrer and Do-Anjane starred by Amitabh Bachchan. He had acted in seven Hindi films including Kalpana Lajmi’s Daman, and Rajkumar Kohli’s Virodhi among others. He completed his primary education at Kolibri LP School. His parents were part of the entertainment industry.

He graduated from the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India alongside prominent film industry veterans as a contemporary of Subhas Ghai , Navin Nischol and Shatrughan Sinha.

Despite his Bollywood connection, he was more committed to the Assamese film industry and he was the ‘Polestar’ of Assamese cinema with his role in nearly fifty films and captivated the hearts of the audience since the 1960s. Goswami was also actively associated with the state’s unique mobile theatre and had over the years been a part of Awahan, Kohinoor, Hangul and Shakuntala theatre groups. He also acted in a few television serials including Ritu Aahe Ritu Jaai. Goswami lost his wife Ranjita Goswami around one and half years back. She was the pillar of strength and support for him.

Piyoli Phukan, his debut film was a  black & white Assamese language film directed by  Phani Sarma released in 1955. The film is based on the life and struggle of a historical character of Assam, Piyoli Phukan, son of Badan Borphukan, who revolted against British rule. He was sentenced to death and hanged in 1830 at Jorhat. The film is produced by Gama Prasad Agarwalla under the banner of Rupjyoti Productions, Tezpur. Music is composed by Bhupen Hazarika. Piyoli Phukan is the first Assamese film, which got national recognition. The film was honoured by the Certificate of Merit in State Awards

Assamese cinema was born in 1935 when Jyoti Prasad Agarwala released his movie Joymoti. Since then Assamese cinema has developed a slow-paced, sensitive style, especially with the movies of Bhabendran Nath Saikia and Jahnu Barua. Despite its long history and its artistic successes, for a state that has always taken its cinema seriously, Assamese cinema has never really managed to break through on the national scene despite its film industry making a mark in the National Awards over the years.

Although the beginning of the 21st century has seen Bollywood-style Assamese movies hitting the screen, the industry has not been able to compete in the market, significantly overshadowed by larger industries such as Bollywood. It is with Nipon Goswami and Bhupen Hazarika that Assamese cinema came closer to Bollywood with Piyoli  Phukan winning National Award in the 1950s. Some of his known work can be seen in films like Dr. Bezbaruah (1970), Shakuntala Aru Sankar Joseph Ali (1984), Hiya Diya Niya (2000), Antaheen Jatra (2004), Borolar Ghor (2012) and Gaane Ki Aane (2016). Apart from his work, he was equally comfortable with films outside the Assamese film industry and has been a part of Hindi films like Do Bhai (1968), Jaggu (1975), Do Anjane, Kaal Sandhya (1991), Daman (2001) and Purab Ki Awaz (2017). His 2017 release includes the film Sesh Angika.

Directed by Pronoy Phukan, the movie along with Nipon Goswami stars Jayanta Bhagabati and Nayan Nilim in important roles. His 2019 release includes Seema – The Untold Story. After Sangram, Goswami worked in Dr. Bezbaruah directed by Brajen Baruah, which was a record-creating movie. That movie was the turning point in his career and there has been no looking back since then. Nipon Goswami has acted in more than 8 Bollywood films till date. His latest film released was 18.11 – A Code of Secrecy directed by Mohibul Haque.

The film was a passion for him and for this actor with an inherent talent for acting, it was not a money-making business or a profession for gaining name and fame. In his personal life, he was a simple and jolly gentleman with a versatile intellectual ability. Once anyone meets him is unable to forget him as a man. This might have enabled him for creating magic for the audience. He passionately played his role and the diversity is outstanding.

His love for Assam is reflected in the major part of his life spent in Assamese films in spite of his connections with Bollywood. He like Bhupen Hazarika took upon himself the godfather role of introducing Assam to the whole of India. His films in spite of the commercial flavour never missed out on the social message. Nipon Goswami reigned Stardom without ever making people feel this great fact. He was an evergreen hero whose absence is felt after his death and the great loss for the Assamese film as he held the umbrella for it.  People around him be it a co-actor or his audience, everyone developed a relationship of the heart with him

Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee is a columnist and poet. He may be reached at: profratanbhattacharjee@gmail.com