The inhabitants of the forest terrain of Sundarpur are experiencing a constant, intensifying conflict between man and elephant because of the ecological disaster. In a frenzy of rage, the wild elephants attack the villagers frequently and endanger human lives. Shattered by her fiance’s infidelity, Basundhara, a sensitive, intelligent and courageous young NGO activist arrives at Sundarpur to resolve the crisis. But the villagers have failed to understand her intention, and her first meeting with them turns out to be a total fiasco. Incidentally, she comes in contact with Arjun, a young journalist of the locality. Arjun reveals to her how a large area of the virgin forest has been cleared for illegal trafficking of wood and also for setting up of a stone quarry by Bikash Barua, a forest contractor-cum-local mafia, with the help of dishonest forest personnel. Basundhara then realises that the noise of frequent blasts in the stone quarry frightens the wild elephants and they attack the villagers in return. Determined to fight against the heavy odds, Basundhara forms her own team of volunteers, comprising of village youth who earlier worked for Bikash Barua, and thus she starts welfare activities for the underprivileged people. At her insistence, Arjun publishes a report in the newspaper which is a searing expose of the illegal activities of Bikash Barua and his associates. Basundhara’s mother, who now stays alone in the city, breathes her last in mysterious circumstances.

Basundhara and her team members are also threatened by the miscreants to stop the mission. But she decides not to quit Sundarpur and her mission. The situation takes a different turn. In view of the forthcoming elections, the dishonest ranger is transferred and an honest officer joins in his place. He provides all support to Basundhara. Armed with substantial proof, she is now ready to corner Bikash Barua. With courage and determination, facing severe opposition from the beginning and despite much heartbreak, Basundhara finally achieves her goal.

At this hour of the crisis in Assamese film industry, the making of a socially relevant, universally appealing film – Basundhara – the Earth is praiseworthy. It appears that the producer-director Hiren Bora has taken up the filming of a most topical subject like the man-elephant conflict to draw the attention of the audience. The first feature film of the year was released on January 15, initially at Cinemax, with inauguration by the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who appreciated the film and the director for his attempt to make the people conscious about the burning issue and hoped that it would reach out to a wider audience.

The film, made in Super-16 format under the banner of Surabhi Enterprise (TV and Film Division), depicts the story by the director Bora. Sagar Sangam Sarkar is associated with him in writing the screenplay. Talented actress Barsharani Bishaya in the title role shows brilliance, specially in the emotional and adventurous scenes. Saurabh Hazarika, in the role of young journalist Arjun, has convincingly portrayed his role. In another major role, that of the corrupt businessman Bikash Barua, Dr Iftekar Ahmed, the handsome hero of Prabin Bora’s film Parinam, has done full justice with his impressive performance. Other significant parts are well played by Bishnu Khargharia, Prithwiraj Rabha, Bhagawat Pritam, Moitreyee Goswami, Bhranti Medhi and Rita Bora. The camera work by cinematographer Vivek Banerjee of Mumbai, especially in outdoor shots is eyecatching. Torali Sarma’s meaningful background music and the only song penned by Birinchi Kumar Medhi has enhanced the beauty of the film. Meanwhile, Basundhara – The Earth has been widely appreciated at the recently held International Film Festivals at Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata – as a film with the flavours of Assam.

Apurba Kumar Das