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Jahnu Barua enters Bollywood, sans stars and spice

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS

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Noted Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua is all set to make his directorial debut in Bollywood with a commitment to providing 'entertaining' but 'healthy' cinema for Indian audiences.

The internationally acclaimed director from Assam has tied up with Mumbai-based producer Anish Ranjan for making three Hindi films -- all of them with high drama but with little or none of the 'masala' that forms the staple of so many Bollywood films.

"I was looking for a right producer to make Hindi films and now that I have found one in Anish, I hope to make some good entertaining films without too many stars and devoid of the usual masala," Barua told IANS in an interview.

"My idea is to see that people admit they saw a good movie after watching the film. I want to bring about a change in the taste of moviegoers so that no one can abuse the medium of cinema."

Barua, 52, is a celebrated filmmaker having won a National Award in 1982 for his first Assamese film "Aparoopa".

It was his "Hkhagoroloi Bohu Door" (The Catastrophe) that won him the National Award for Best Director (Golden Lotus) in 1995 and 15 international awards, including the World Peace Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

His films are unique in terms of a strong storyline and narration and he seldom deviates from making a humane statement through the cinematic text.

"The three Hindi films that I am going to make in the next two and a half years would be truly sensitive and not cheat the viewers. I don't make films to cater to the audience but with an approach of social responsibility and accountability to the viewers," Barua said.

One of the projects is tentatively titled "Butterfly Chase" to be shot exhaustively in the Himalayan heights of Sikkim.

The plot of the new Hindi film revolves around a universal subject -- how terrorism destroys the social structure of a society and how young minds divert their energy from creating a peaceful world. "The subject is close to my heart as I come from a region that has for long been tormented by insurgencies," Barua said.

The story of the film, written by Barua himself some 15 years ago, has been slightly changed with the plot now shifting from his home state of Assam to Jammu and Kashmir. It is about a five-year-old deaf girl who is abducted by militants.

"Terrorism is a universal subject now and the problem in Kashmir is more well known than in Assam where the situation is a localised one. So the plot of the story is set in Kashmir," Barua said.

"The story is about anti-terrorism, peace and humanity and I am sure people in general would like the film once it is complete."

Several actors like Kay Kay, Gauri Karnik, Yashpal Sharma and Aditya Srivastava have already been signed on for the film due to begin shooting early next year.

"Normally filmmakers fake Kashmir by filming in Himachal Pradesh. So we decided to shoot in Sikkim as the topography and the surroundings is much akin to Kashmir," the filmmaker said.

Barua, who recently hogged the limelight when he volunteered to mediate with separatist groups in Assam for holding peace talks with the government, is not a happy man today. The rebels had rejected Barua's offer.

"I don't think I will make any Assamese films in the near future as the response from both the public and the local government is very uninspiring towards Assamese films as such," Barua said.


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