The first-ever Assamese film, Joymoti (1935), directed by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, was made just four years after the first Indian talkie Alam Ara. And yet, Assamese cinema has not arrived in a large way on the national stage. 

In Assam, a film with a budget of over Rs 50 lakh is considered a large project. In fact, in Assam, only in present years have a couple of films crossed a Rs 1 crore budget, that is to say, is the Mission China, produced and directed by singer-musician Zubeen Garg, which with its reported Rs 2 crore-plus budget, has become the priciest film of the Northeast ever. 

Jollywood had worked with other regional film industries like Tollywood, Kollywood, Pollywood, Bhojpuri, and Bengali films in Chamelee Memsaab, Dr Bezbarua, Piyoli Phukan, Joymoti which was a big success but in the past few decades, we can see that only a smaller number of Assamese films collaborate with other regional film industries. 

Pabitra Margharita who is the chairman of Jyoti Chitraban has his opinion on the Assamese film industry not being able to do big as other regional film industries in India. 

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The major problem for filmmakers in the region is the lack of enough theatres, with quite a few states not even having a permanent cinema hall. 

Except for Assam, all other states that do have cinema halls have less than 10 screens each. 

Another problem is that Northeast India is a virtual Tower of Babel with nearly 275 ethnic communities with as many languages and dialects — most of which are not understood by communities other than that which speaks it. 

The government of Assam established the Jyoti Chitraban as a Government Studio in the year 1961 to provide equipment and facilities to enthusiastic filmmakers in the state. 

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, and Zee5 all have a large catalog of many Bengalis, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, and Punjabi films. 

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But not Assamese films. There have been new Assamese films since 2011 — almost 30 to 40 — which are such good films that have done well nationally and internationally. 

Zubeen Garg who is a popular Assamese film actor, film producer, and singer feels that big OTT platforms are not taking Assamese films because they are not doing well on this platform as the number of views in this language is very less. 

Zubeen says Eros Now which is an Indian subscription-based video-on-demand entertainment platform will be soon launching the Assamese catalog in their OTT platform. 

It suddenly aches din for Assamese cinema, one year ago a movie named Kanchanjangha collected Rs 7 crore at the box office. 

The same year, another movie named Ratnakar has grossed over Rs 9 crore and broke the all-time single-day collection record of Assamese cinema. 

What’ve more both movies opened at multiplexes even in cities like Delhi and Mumbai Independent cinemas, like Local Kung Fu of Kenny Basumatary’s, have seen some amount of box office success. Also, Rima Das’s Village Rockstar got nominated for Oscars in 2017. 

At the death’s door industry that was once called ‘Jollywood’, there is suddenly hope of revival.

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