Synopsis of the Feature Film “Sonar Baran Pakhi”
Popularly nicknamed Hastir Kanya (daughter of elephants), Pratima Baruah was born in the royal family of Gauripur in present day Dhubri district of Assam adjoining West Bengal in India and neighboring Bangladesh. Legendary filmmaker Pramathesh Chandra Baruah was her uncle.
It was her father Prakitish Chandra Baruah alias Lalji who gave her the strength to fight all odds that came her way. As a child, as she accompanied her father in many a elephant hunting expedition, she remained close to the mahouts and learnt their unique ways of singing.
However other royal family members disapproved of the young girl humming rustic ballads, many of them warning her that nobody would marry her if she continued to practice the lokageets, the songs of the masses.
Wedded to music as she was, the child, thoroughly captivated by the lilting notes that resonated in the air around her, also mastered other forms of folk songs and was brought to the tinsel world by none other than filmmaker Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, another singing maestro of that generation, in his debut feature Era Bator Sur in which Pratima sang a Goalpariya Lokageet.
That was the beginning. The rest is history. Popular songs, folk songs, all practically hits with the music lovers, came one after another from her mesmerizing voice. It was her pioneering efforts that popularized Goalpariya Folk Songs and brought it to wide acceptance and national recognition.
Although she was born and educated in Kolkata, she never shied away from her close touch with the people of her ancestral place. Her innocent nature, a down-to-earth personality, devoid of ersatz, ensured she always was in the hearts of the common people. Pratima predictably remained untouched by all the fame and acclaim that she rightfully earned.
Laurels came her way – the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the Padmashree honour given by the government and many more titles fondly bestowed on her by the cultural bodies from across the state of Assam.
Pratima had not sung for fame and personal gains. She had sung for the pure love of folk music.
The Director’s Thought
Pratima Baruah Pandey (1935-2002) is definitely the golden feather of the Goalpariya folk songs of Western Assam. She shed the silver spoon that was hers by birth and unhesitatingly mingled with the carriers of the traditional songs sung by commoners like boatmen, buffalo herds and mahouts to come up with a repertoire which she flawlessly and soulfully performed at various forums to earn nationwide recognition for this distinct folk form.
As a film lover I intended to capture the uncommon threads of life of this gifted artist who, despite being a girl child and being born and brought up in a royal family braved all odds, mingled with mahouts (elephant drivers), moishals (buffalo boys) and naworias (river boatmen) in a rural ambiance.
From the folklorists’ point of view, her renditions of those fascinating folk songs at national and international platforms with unbridled passion, keeping intact the indigenous flavor that made all the difference and this does indeed call for a feature-length portrayal of her life and works.
I am sure that the story of the genius in Pratima Baruah Pandey would keep her posterity aware and conscious of what she aspired to attain in her life.
“Sonar Baran Pakhi” Film Video Gallery
“SONAR BARAN PAKHI” Facebook Page
AWARDS & HONOURS
- 15th DHAKA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017 (won Best Audience Award)
- 15th INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF LOS ANGELES (IIFLA), 2017 (Won Grand Jury Award)
- 18th JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016
- 22ND KOLKATA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 2016
- 9TH BENGALURU INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 2017
- 13TH IAWRT ASIAN WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL, 2017
- 15TH THIRD EYE ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL, 2016
- KHAJURAHO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2016
- 6th INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF SOUTH ASIA – Toronto (IFFSA) 2017
- 20th FLAYING BROOM INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL, Turkey 2017
- HABITAT FILM FESTIVAL 2017
- 13th JECHON INTERNATIONAL MUSIC AND FILM FESTIVAL, Korea 2017
- INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF MELBOURNE 2017
- MOSAIC INTERNATIONAL SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2017
- 7th INTERNATIONAL FOLK MUSIC FILM FESTIVAL; 23rd – 25th 2017 Nepal
- WMAFF, WOMEN MEDIA ARTS AND FILM FESTIVAL Sydney, Australia 2017
- KALEIDOSCOPE FILM FESTIVAL, NEWYORK. 2017 November 9th- 12th
- CHICAGO SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL. 29th September – 1st October 2017
- SINGAPORE SOUTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 2017