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Legendary film-maker Pramathesh Chandra Barua: a forgotten hero

A view of Pramathesh Barua’s royal residence at Gauripur and (inset) the man himself.
 GAURIPUR, May 20 - Pramathesh Chandra Barua, a legendary film-maker, director and actor was born with a silver spoon in his month on October 10, 1903. He was the eldest son of Raja Prabhat Chandra Barua of Gauripur Royal Estate. His mother Rani Saroj Bala Barua was a pious lady. Pramathesh Chandra Barua could have led a comfortable life with all resources in his hand but he was not interested in leading such a life. From his childhood he was an ardent lover of art and music. His father Prabhat Chandra Barua wanted to hand over the charge of the Zamindari Estate but he politely rejected his offer and requested him to hand over the charge to his younger brother Prakritihsh Chandra Barua, the famous elephant expert of Assam.

Leaving his comfortable life and after graduation in Science at Presidency College, Kolkata, Pramathesh Barua left for London to learn the technic of production of cinema and later on he went to Paris and Germany to have a first hand knowledge about cinematography. After he had acquainted himself with all these techniques abroad, he came back to Kolkata and set up his own studio, Baura Film Unit at his own residence. He had the credit of producing a large number of films including Kamanar Agun, Takai Ki Na Hoi, Naughty Boy, Alik Babu, Panchachar, Maraner Pare, The Border Thick and Charitrahin. He himself directed these films and played the lead role also. These were all silent movies.

Ruplekha, Mohabbat ke aansu, Devdas, Abaseshe, Grihadah, Manjil, Maya, Mukta, Adhikar, Rajatjayanti, Zindagi, Shapamukti, Mayer Pran, Uttarayan, Seshuttar, Jabab, Sader Kalanka, Amiri etc., were some of his talkies where he played the lead role.

His immortal creation was Devdas. He not only played the lead role but also directed the film. He was the pioneer in introducing the flashback technique in the history of Indian cinema. People of India and specially Assam are very unlucky that Pramathesh Barua met a tragic death at the age of 48 on November 29, 1951.

Nothing was done to keep his memory alive at Gauripur except for a college established in 1964, a life-size statue in front of the college and a road without a nameplate. The rehearsal house where Barua used to stage dramas is nowhere. No public committee was formed to keep alive his memory and even the royal places – one at the Matiabag hillock and the other in the heart of the town are now in a decadent state. No proper measures have been taken to preserve his immortal creations. There is not a single cinema hall at Gauripur. The art and music lovers of Gauripur seem to be proud of their rich folk culture but they have forgotten the contributions of a legendary film maker who tirelessly dedicated his life for the cause of cinema as an instrument of socio-cultural development of the downtrodden masses of the society.

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