OSIAN’s Cinefan Film Festival: Sanjay Suri speaks on ‘As The River Flows’

Updated: Jul 31, 2012, 10:27 AM IST

Ananya Bhattacharya

Delhi: Amidst a power failure that crippled the entire northern part of the country, the fourth day of the 12th OSIAN’s-Cinefan Film Festival opened to a fair number of people. Neither erratic power failures nor the uncalled-for rain could dampen the spirits of movie lovers and people were seen amassed at the Siri Fort Complex. Renowned actor Sanjay Suri and National Award winning documentary filmmaker Bidyut Kotoky graced Day 4 of OSIAN’s with their presence and spoke, in detail, about their film ‘As The River Flows’. The film saw its World Premiere on the 29th of July, 2012 at the ongoing festival.

Inspired by and loosely based on the life of Sanjoy Ghosh, an activist who was abducted by the militant groups operating in Assam and for seven years, nobody noticed his absence. Bidyut Kotoky’s film is a socio-political thriller that deals with the life of Journalist Abhijit Shandilya (essayed by Sanjay Suri) who begins to investigate how his friend went missing. The film stars veteran actor Victor Banerjee and newcomer Bidita Bag alongside Sanjay Suri. The film is a bilingual one, and has the usage of Hindi and Assamese.

The film documents, in painful detail, the plight of the people caught at the crossroads of militant groups against the police. The fact that Kotoky’s roots are based in Assam, one of the most strife-torn places in the country, added to the nuances of the story. And actor Sanjay Suri belongs to a state which has known only violence since the year 1989. When the actor moved out of Jammu & Kashmir in 1990, the state was already ravaged by violence. Belonging to conflict zones, both on the part of the filmmaker and the lead actor, went a considerably path in crafting to brilliance the creation called ‘As The River Flows’.

The film revolves around a sensitive issue, shot at a place which is known for its amount of sheer violence. Majuli Island in Assam, the largest river island in the world and the only one in the country, is on the verge of extinction. Plans of UNESCO designating the island a World Heritage Site have still not been able to see the light of the day.

Capturing on camera a place ravaged by neglect and bearing the burden of bloodshed for about three decades wasn’t exactly an easy task for Bidyut Kotoky. The cast and crew were faced with opposition from every possible sphere and had to tackle obstacles ranging from being silent about the subject of the film to grenade attacks. In the face of such hostility, the perseverance and hard work of the brains behind the film finally saw it through, and Kotoky’s tribute to Majuli deserves a standing ovation. Sanjay Suri and Bidyut Kotoky both hope that they are able to release the film commercially soon.