I Don’t Want to be Born Again for Poem: Documentary in Musee du Louvre on Abani Chakraborty

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By – Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee

A great moment indeed for Assamese literature and film and the resurrection of the poetic talents of poet Abani Chakraborty. It reminds me of a line from Bengali Poet Sakti Chattopadhyay “Abani are you at home?” that poem was symbolic during the Naxalite movement in Bengal. But in a similar tone we may feel the need for a poet like Abani Chakraborty as Wordsworth felt the absence of Milton “Thou shouldst be living at this hour.” Missing a poet is like living two lives, one living as if everything is quite right while on the other living a life of pain secretly. The pain that we have felt for all these years for the missing poet Abani Chakraborty finally gets metamorphosed in a documentary. It is an ever mysterious tale for all lovers of poetry when the poet is so popular. Abani Chakraborty was an Indian humanitarian poet of the late 20th century Assamese Literature. Apart from original poetry his works included two novelettes and translations of third world poetry.

This documentary on poet Abani Chakraborty which is going to be accommodated in Musee du Louvre of Paris with Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as a 22-minute experimental documentary, titled ‘I Don’t Want to be Born Again for Poem’ will surely be a milestone as a tribute to a missing poet and all credit goes to Guwahati-based filmmakers Bhaskar Jyoti Das and Waribam Dorendra. Louvre Museum will screen it on February 29 as a part of the Les Rencontres Internationales, a major European festival that celebrates artistic and experimental cinema along with other arts. Les Rencontres Internationales regularly open a critical and forward-looking look at contemporary filmmaking. Works by artists and directors of worldwide renown are regularly shown as well as those by young talents. These are shown also in Berlin simultaneously for promotion of art and film internationally.

It is a commendable step that the two film directors and producers have taken this initiative to popularize their documentary on Abani Chakraborty. During the 1970’s and 80’s there were many revolutionary uprisings happening, near and far, all around the world. In this period, amidst this protest and revolutionary uprising, a poet symbolically expresses his feelings to capture the complexity of human existence. Constant financial pressure in his family life is also evident in his words. At one point, words become distorted and absurd. One evening, the poet, Abani Chakravarty, disappears and left many confusions, as in the poem of Sakti Chattopadhyay. He was not found at home. The documentary on Abani Chakraborty is called an ‘experimental film’. What is most important is that an Assamese film has been reaching out a global platform again.

Abani Chakravarty was born in Nalbari subdivision on January 3, 1941 to a poor Brahmin family. Abani started contributing to Assamese literature prolifically in the 1960s and continued to do so until the 1990s. He was influential in the world of Assamese poetry and literature before he disappeared on a cold Saturday evening on November 12, 1994 from his Kharguli residence in Guwahati. Abani Chakravarty published a number of books including poetry anthologies, translations and two novelettes. He published his poems in most of the major Assamese newspapers and magazines. His books were primarily published by publishers based in Assam apart from his own publication Kabita Prakashan. He was the joint editor for the Assamese magazine Antaranga (meaning “The Intimate”, half yearly, 1969), Asomiya Kabita (“The Assamese Poetry”, monthly, 1970) and the editor of Chirantan (“The Eternal’’, tri-monthly, 1972). Pratibadar Kantha (‘‘The Voice of Rebellion’’, recorded in 1985), a cassette of recitation of his poems, was the first ever cassette of recitation of Assamese poetry. His anthologies include Deha Romeromai Mor (1970), Slogan (1980), Kabikantha (1987), autobiographical novelette Sankardev Uddyan, Si aru Apurba (1990), edited anthologies Britta Bhangar Samay (1972), Ei Samay (1972), Parashu Goswamir Kabita (1989) and Amulya Baruar Jeevan aru Kabita (1990).

Abani Chakraborty, carved out a wonderful poetic niche for him in Assamese literature so silently that few knew that he had published a number of books, including poetry anthologies, translations and two novelettes. Therefore, it is indeed a good news for all lovers of Assamese literature and language that the Louvre Museum in Paris, which houses the legendary painting Mona Lisa, will now witness a documentary on Assamese poet Abani Chakraborty.

Bhaskar Jyoti Das has written the scripts for feature films like Haanduk and Sonar Baran Pakhi, as well as television serials. Guwahati-based Dorendra, who is an alumnus of the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Regional Government Film and Television Institute, has made several documentaries. They have made Assam nay whole of India proud in achieving this wonderful feat. (The writer is an Associate Professor and Head Post Graduate Dept of English of Dum Dum Motijheel College, Kolkata and can be reached at email [email protected])

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