Student leaders appeal to combat witch hunting in Assam

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HT Bureau

Guwahati, Oct 3: Extending full support, top leaders from AASU, ABSU and SFI on Tuesday appealed to people of Assam to join hands against deadly witch hunting menace and come out in large numbers to watch the Assamese film Aei Maatite on October 6. Directed by independent filmmaker and eminent theatre personality Dr Sitanath Lahkar, Aei Maatite is the first Assamese full-length feature film on the burning problem of witch hunting and it will be widely released across the state on Friday.

Aei Maatite is also the first film of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) president Pramod Boro, Students’ Federation of India (SFI) general secretary (Assam Unit) Nirangkush Nath and Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS) president Bittu Sonowal as actors.

“I have acted in Aei Maatite and it is my first film. It is made on a very important subject. This film has played a very crucial role in showing the way to get rid of serious social evils like witch hunting, which is based on superstition and is affecting tribal and backward communities. We appeal to people to watch Aei Maatite to consider it as our collective social responsibility to stop and eliminate witch hunting menace from Assam,” AASU’s Gogoi said.

He further said: “Aei Maatite has created an atmosphere to initiate a struggle. Film is a very strong medium of mass communication. We hope that this film will leave an impact on every segment of Assamese society, including students, youths and others across villages and towns.”

Expressing his views on the film, ABSU’s Boro said: “I liked the film Aei Maatite. I have also appeared in it for some time. The film has big importance. Even today, witch hunting incidents are taking place and it is not only in tribal or adivasi areas; but in other places also. People are killed so brutally that it leaves an impact on the entire society or region. That is why the film has importance in today’s time. That is why I want that people should watch it.”

He also said: “Lots of writings have taken place in books, papers, magazines; but many people do not read it. But people understand the issue when they see it visually. That is why this film is a good step for making people realise visually. Surely, there will be awareness after viewing this film. We want this to happen. I thank the makers for taking such an initiative.”

SFI’s Nath said: “On coming October 6, Assam’s first anti-witch hunting film Aei Maatite will be released. I have acted for the first time in this film and I really enjoyed doing so. Directed by Dr Sitanath Lahkar, Aei Maatite is not only a film; it is a social movement against superstition and witch hunting. Let us go together to watch Aei Maatite on October 6. We all should watch this film and should come forward to take this initiative against witch hunting menace further.”

The firebrand student leaders also lauded Aei Maatite from technical point of view and hoped that movie lovers will surely enjoy watching this Assamese film.

“I have seen the film and happy to see that it is technically very superior. It has successfully experimented on various fronts. The usual complaints off late we have received about Assamese films that they were very slow or technically inferior, people will not see such weaknesses in Aei Maatite. The tempo of the film is very speedy and I think that people will love it. We appeal everyone to please come out to watch this film and wipe out the bad phase of Assamese film industry,” AASU’s Gogoi said.

Expressing similar views, SFI’s Nath said: “Considering direction, music and other aspects, it is a complete film. That is why I again appeal to all to come out for watching Aei Maatite on October 6.”

Aei Maatite, made under the banner of Angeekar Films, is an adaptation of Dr. Lahkar’s famous stage play Tamaasa on the burning problem of witch hunting. The story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics have also been penned by Dr. Lahkar, a retired principal of Cotton College.

The ‘action-drama’ film has some very critical scenes, shooting of which were done with utmost care and precision. Such type of rustic action scenes are hardly seen in Assamese films. The film cinematically showcases some of the inhuman killings in the name of witch hunting.

Angeekar Films received the clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification (Censor Board) for Aei Maatite with a U/A certificate.

Aei Maatite mainly talks about the witch hunting problem in Assam and how a section of people are using witchcraft for their own interest. The film has a very strong message against witch hunting, upholding the value of scientific temperament and human life. Witch hunting has no reason at all and is shrouded with darkness of superstition, which is to be overcome by the society itself – this is the say of the film.

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