Every movie industry goes through a sine curve wherein a period of saturation plagues the industry for some time and it’s resurgence depends on fresh ideas and even fresher execution to lure the audience back to the theatres with renewed vigour. Hollywood reinvented itself with 2001 : A Space Odyssey back in 1968 which is still considered a path breaking achievement in marrying the drama and science fiction genres. Back home, Bollywood moved on from saccharine coated family drama to more rugged, colloquial spewing characters in movies like Satya. In fact, the dark underbelly of Mumbai became fodder for a lot many directors to explore. Narrowing down to regional cinema, Marathi movie industry got a fresh lease of life with the Oscar bound Shwaas in 2004. Marathi movies have always been about substance rather than the ostentatious, but two movies in less than 10 years making it as the official selection for the Oscars was commendable. And with the turn of the century, Marathi movies have created a niche for themselves in the Indian movie industry and have been liked by non-Marathi people as well.
Which brings me to the Assamese film industry. The industry is not in the best of shapes, with continuous brawls with the more popular Hindi movies and the easy availability of the good ones through pirated medium. Gone are the days when people used to clamour for first day first show tickets in front of Anuradha Theatre right in the heart of Guwahati. Today, few commercial theatre owners even refuse to release Assamese movies in their hall unless there is a guaranteed purse to be earned. But that discussion is for some other day. What pains me the most is the representation of the Assamese industry in social media by abominations like Mr Rajkumar’s movies and antics. Do not get me wrong, I am all for freedom to practice one’s craft, but if non-Assamese people get glimpses of the industry through social media and Mr Rajkumar’s farcical moves are all they see, I have serious reservations against it. This is the industry which gave us stalwarts like Padma Shri winner Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia and Jahnu Barua and music which has transcended state boundaries, therefore we need quality content to feel proud of.
The quagmire in which the industry found itself in made it imperative for someone to take the batton in hand. And who better to do it then Assam’s musical doyen and an idol to lakhs of people, Zubeen Garg. Zubeen has held the flag of Assamese movie high through his singing in both the Assamese industry and in Bollywood. So when the first poster for Mission China was made public, I, like many others stood up and took notice. A budget of 2 crores for a movie was unheard of. Zubeen took the mantle on himself to show the world what the 82 year old Assamese movie industry was capable of, and now, 2 days after the release, we are seeing the results!
The movie is a spectacle like no other. Every frame of the movie screams of class and the cinematography can be counted among the best in Indian cinema history, let alone Assamese cinema. The scale of the movie can easily be judged by the opening credit scene which is done with quality special effects. Zubeen’s mellifluous voice greets the audience as he dons the narrator’s chair as well, and we relax in our comfortable chairs and let the master take control of the proceedings. Mission China is a love story with a backdrop of insurgency and a race against time to save loved ones. The casting is top notch with Zubeen leading the way as Colonel Goswami. He manages the brooding, internal anguish look well. Zubeen Garg has always had the restrained emotional man’s eyes, which he uses well in this movie to convey the internal demons which he carries as a result of being falsely implicated and jailed for three years. But when the daughter of the state’s Home Minister gets abducted by the notorious Lama and his gang of insurgents, the Army has to fall back on their most accomplished recruit, Colonel Goswami. Colonel is initially unperturbed as he has laid low after coming out of jail, but something closer to heart makes him take up duty back again. As the movie progresses, we realize that the Colonel had a past where he had captured Lama but Lama managed to escape and also took the Colonel’s love interest hostage.
The movie quickly presents the context and gives the characters enough back story for us to care about before landing in the troubled territory of the Mission in hand. Mission China doesn’t linger much on the humdrum and sweet nothings. It even edits out portions of the love songs so as not to meddle with the flow of the movie. Zubeen recognizes that cine goers will want to hear him croon during the course of the narrative and he obliges with some soothing numbers. The supporting cast of Deeplina Deka, Pabitra Rava, Yankee Parashar does a good job in the movie. The climatic fight with the insurgents is a show in muscle and suaveness and replete with some head chops which will make Game of Throne lovers proud.
Overall, this is a movie begging to be enjoyed in a theatre hall. The scale is unprecedented and Zubeen has clearly upped the ante with this offering. A family watch with elements of love, action and emotions galore, we request you to visit your nearest cinema hall immediately.
gobblpoint: Watch it for the grandiose scale which has never been seen in an Assamese movie. Watch it for some cool action sequences. And above all, watch it as an appreciation of the effort of Assam’s dear son trying to revive faith in the industry which was dwindling away rapidly.
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of the film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.