Resurrecting the dying Assamese film industry was one of Munin Barua's many contributions.
Parthajit Baruah reflects on the films of Munin Barua on the occasion of his birthday.
The 1990s and early 2010s were low points for Assamese cinema, with many theatres closing, audiences becoming less interested in watching Assamese films, and the rise of VCDs throughout the state. In such a socio-political climate, Munin Barua, fondly called “Bhaimon da”, made the film Hiya Diya Niya (2000), which altered the direction of Assamese cinema. Earlier, the Assamese public refused to watch even the National Award-winning films in theatres, but it was Munin Barua who offered the Assamese audience a new taste with his films, which became a great smash and helped resuscitate the Assamese cinema.
The film Pratima (1987), which Barua co-directed with Nipon Goswami, marked the beginning of his career as a director, but his work in the 2000s would ultimately salvage Assamese cinema. In this decade, Munin Barua made a string of massively successful Assamese films, including Daag (2001), Nayak (2001), Kanyadaan (2002), Bidhata (2003), and Barood (2004). In terms of the history of Assamese cinema, these films are notable due to the fact that the public gradually lost interest in viewing Assamese films and instead switched their attention to popular Hindi films. With the skill of a magician, though, Barua was able to captivate viewers with films that combined several popular techniques. In fact, Barua is one of those directors who grasped the art that was behind the tremendous commercial success of well-known Assamese films. These films have a wide variety of genres and elements, including action, humour, romance, drama, melodrama, and music, but they all centre on stories of interpersonal conflict within families and societies.
Dinabandhu (2004), which received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Assamese, disproved the notion that Munin Barua is only capable of making commercially successful films. The film, which is based on the short novel "Zowtuk" (dowry) by Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia, recounts the tale of Dinabandhu, a man from a middle-class background who goes through a profound change over the course of the narrative as he deals with the obstacles posed by his family, his work, and his own personality.
In the course of Munin Barua's career as a filmmaker, he has made fourteen Assamese films that went on to become huge hits. In addition, he has worked on many more films as a screenplay writer and assistant director. He has also authored the screenplays for a number of plays that have been performed in mobile theatres. At the age of 71, Munin Barua passed away on April 7, 2018, having left behind a rich legacy.