JORHAT, Jan 17: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya on Sunday demanded that the Centre should institute a national award in the name of playwright, writer, songwriter and filmmaker Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala of Assam.
Addressing a huge gathering on the occasion of the 70th death anniversary of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala observed in the state as Silpi Divas, Bhattacharya said that there is an award instituted in the name of Dadasaheb Phalke who made Raja Harischandra, the first feature film in India, but Agarwala who made Joymati, and was among the first filmmakers in the country had by and large been ignored by the Indian film milieu.
“We demand that a national award be instituted in his name and that the state government initiate the move. This would be a befitting tribute to the doyen of Assamese culture,” he said.
Silpi Divas was organised centrally at the Shankardev Seminary School playground by the All Jorhat District Students Union (AJDSU).
Bhattacharya further said that research should be conducted into the literary output of Agarwala and other literary icons like Bishnu Prasad Rabha and Bhupen Hazarika in Dibrugarh University, Gauhati University and other major universities of Assam.
“Today on the occasion of Silpi Divas we demand that the state government provide funds to institute chairs in the names of all three in the universities,” he said.
He also sought setting up of cultural centres having all modern amenities with auditoriums and other technological support across the state to practice, preserve and promote cultural activities by the upcoming generations.
The AASU chief advisor said such proposed centres should be named after renowned cultural personalities like Rupkonwar, Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Dr Bhupen Hazarika and others.
He said that the government which every now and then announces schemes could very well take schemes in the cultural front for Assamese people and society. He said by taking such measures a cultural revolution could be ushered in.
Recalling Rupkonwar’s ideals and his appeal for universal brotherhood, Dr Bhattacharya said that Agarwala had tried to unify and bring all groups and tribes of Assam together by cultural means and strengthen Assamese society.
Bhattacharya, while appealing one and all of Assamese society to forge stronger ties among all sections of communities, cautioned of not falling into the trap of dividing the society in the name of caste, creed, languages and religion as attempted by a section of politicians.
He said such divisive tendencies were detrimental to the Assamese society and preventing it will be a proper homage to great persons like Rupkonwar who tried to unify all.
AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath who also addressed the gathering said that the government had in the past four and half years had done nothing to preserve the memory of the cultural icon, despite assurances from the chief minister to this effect.
“AASU demands that his house and memorabilia at Tamulbari tea garden in Dibrugarh district and his studio at Bholaguri tea estate be properly preserved and be made into museum, where people can visit and know about his creative vision,” Nath said.
Nath further taking a dig at the divisive forces at play in the country and in Assam said that the people of the state should unite and then only could society progress in the right direction.
He said that Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s body of works portrayed cultural unity and had for its premises the victory of good over evil.
“Like Assam’s two greatest socio-religious reformers Srimanta Shankardev and Mahapurush Madhavdev, literary giants like Agarwala, Natyasurya Phani Sarma, Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha, Dr Bhupen Hazarika and Lakshminath Bezbaruah trod the same path of uniting society through their writings and followed the ideals of Krishna by way of destroying the evil and anti social elements present in society, ” he said.
Four renowned artistes were also felicitated with a gamosa, a japi, a sorai, a citation on the occasion earlier. The recipients were Tilmizur Rahman, an actor who acted in famous Assamese movie Ronga Police, Chao Debendracharan Borboruah, a folk musician, Rina Baruah, an actress, Nityaranjan Borthakur, a dramatist.
Noted Dihanam artiste Bodon Moliya, who could not attend the function due to ill-health would be later felicitated at his home.
Homage was paid to the portrait of Agarwala and rich tributes paid to the visionary. Joyshree Chaliha, daughter of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, in her address, went down memory lane of her visits to Jorhat and recited a few lines of a poem of her illustrious father.
Firmer Professor of Assamese department of Dibrugarh University and a language expert Bhim Kanta Boruah, also spoke on the occasion and paid rich tributes to Rupkonwar. A souvenir, ‘Niharika’, was released by JB College principal Bimal Barah. In the morning, a huge cultural procession wended its way through the town.