By Prantik Deka
Guwahati, January 25: The Pabitra Kumar Deka Archive, a first of its kind archive, was recently declared open by the Chief Guest Kanak Sen Deka, eminent litterateur, former president of the Asam Sahitya Sabha and editor of Assamese daily Dainik Agradoot, in a sombre function held to mark the death anniversary of Pabitra Kumar Deka, at his Pub-Sarania residence, Guwahati. In his speech, Kanak Sen Deka referred to late Deka as an institution and a writer of great stature who made immense contribution towards the literary and cultural field, adding that the archive would be of much help for research among the new generation.
There are few who haven’t heard of Pabitra Kumar Deka, a name forever etched in the state’s cultural scenario. He is the man behind making writings on cinema or theatre an integral part of journalism in this part of the world, particularly in the vernacular media. He was the visionary behind the pioneering the cultural magazine ‘Roopkar’, and instituting the first film awards in Assam, the Roopkar Awards, back in 1975. He was also a famous satirical litterateur, editor, drama critic, prolific writer of essays and compositions and director of TV serials and documentaries.
Before he channelled his energy and activities towards cine-journalism and script-writing, before he became an immensely respected name in the cultural world, he was once also a leader of the people’s cultural movement and a leftist activist. He attracted much praise and appreciation with his prolific writings in the pages of yesteryear magazines like Samakalin, Naksha, Asomiya Kabita, Amar Pratinidhi, Roopkar among many others which brought a great deal of pleasure to an adoring following.
Some of his most well-known novels are Hu-Chi Minor Kabita, Saudor Sadhu, Ajon Biror Sadhu, Mulla Naseeruddinor Galpa, Dhananjoyor Diary, Mora Manuh Bosabor Upai, Nirbasita Koutuk, Byakul Kamona, Bhabendra Nath Saikiar Chalaschitra, Moi Koboror Pora Koisu, Natak Holeu Natak Nohoi,Hewers of Coal, The Night of 16th January among others.
Deka defined the cultural movement and contributed to it at every juncture and quite naturally, the intellectual and cultural legacy he has left behind is enormous.
One of his most outstanding accomplishments was his realisation of the historic value of every published article, book or photograph related to cinema. The archive he has left behind is a priceless repository of information and artifact of Assamese cinema and a heritage which needed serious conservation effort.
The archive comprises of books, magazines and periodicals on films, still photographs, cassettes, CDs, VCDs, which have been systematically preserved.
In the same event, the Roopkar Awards were presented to four noted personalities for four consecutive years from 2013 to 2016. Veteran actor-director Kulada Kumar Bhattacharya presented the awards. The awardees are Munin Barua (director/playwright for 2013), Arunlochan Das (film journalist for 2014), Sashi Phukan (Publisher-editor of the magazine ‘Bismoi’ for 2015), Nayan Prasad (actor-drama director film critic for 2016). Awardee Munin Barua could not attend due to illness and the same was received by his son Manas Barua.
The programme, anchored by cine-journalist Bidyut Kumar Bhuyan, was graced by a number of noted personalities from the film and media industry, besides educationists, film enthusiasts among others including Dilip Chandan, Achyut Kumar Patowary, Kopil Bora, Bobeeta Sharma, Sanjeev Hazarika, Udayaditya Bharali, Kishore Giri, Jitumoni Bora, Hemanta Kumar Das, Mrinal Das and Nabanita Sarma Bora.