1962 My Country Land, which was screened at Cannes on May 18 is a historical drama based on the conflict along the India-China border
When Partha Borgohain, a native of Assam, boarded a train to Chennai in 2005 with a plan to study engineering, he had never imagined in his wildest dreams about doing a film and letting his freak flag fly. Brought up in the rustic air of Northeast, cinema and its intricacies were all Greek to him. However, destiny had its way and Partha's maiden film, 1962 My Country Land, was screened at prestigious Cannes festival this year.
“I am so lucky that I could see my film being played on the same screen where Jungle Book and Juliate were showed,” says an elated Partha, who further reveals how his journey to the Cannes began. He was trying his luck on script-writing under ace director Rajiv Menon, when he got a call from his school friend Tanvi.
“Suddenly things began shaping up and we decided that we should do something together. I told her that my weakest point is the inability to market the script with prospective producers. She offered help and thus the scripting began,” says Partha.
The 1962 MCL, which was screened on May 18 at 5 Rue de la Pompe, is a historical drama based on the conflict along the India-China border. The plot develops over a border village claimed by both the countries as their part, and moves ahead with a smell of romance. Love, separation and sacrifice—all have been exquisitely incorporated in the 108-minute long film which was shot mostly in Tawang and Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh. The story, in Partha's words, is about how the dominant powers suppress the weak and powerless and try to impose their own ideology, faith and culture on the indigenous people.
Buoyant over the appreciation 1962 MCL has received at Cannes, Partha says the certification process is underway for its release in India and hopes it might do well with the domestic audience.
Born at Aalo, a small town in West Siang district of Arunachal as the only son of Subhitya Borgohain, a police officer, and Sengpem Borgohain, Partha's career dreams had not flown beyond being a doctor or an engineer or somebody in the government service.
It was completely out of the blue he attended an entrance test and joined Madras Christian College as a Film and Photography student.
Talking about how he made Arunachal, where he spent over 25 years, a topic of his film, Partha says the state is a perfect location for him. “Whenever people talk about Arunachal, the stories of 1962 Sino-Indian war take a forefront. The stories of the war are still fresh with the locals residing in the affected region,” he says.
The thought on how the national leaders overlooked the northeast region over the years has also pushed him to write the story, says Partha and adds that his interaction with several local people helped him develop the plot.
With the help of Aham Sharma from Bombay film industry, Partha got the skills of Indian mainstream acting as they managed to rope in Daniel Han, Lhakpa Lepcha, Ketholeno Kense and Riken Ngomle for 1962 MCL. With these people coming together, Partha says, there was so much to learn from each of them. He recollects how Lhakpa and Riken agreed to do a nude scene fully understanding the requirement of it for their character.
Partha is in no hurry to do more number of films as he believes character is very important. "I tend to go to the subject through the character. So I am always on a look out for such interesting characters," he says. He has already developed a few such characters and formed scripts for them. His next film, based on a politician, is set in Adi, a language spoken by a particular tribe in Arunachal and is expected to start rolling in July.
Partha admits film work in northeast is not a piece of cake as producers are largely sceptic over the success of the project and are not ready to shell out a huge amount. However, the young blood is not ready to clip his wings and says he wants to fly, not only to bollywood, but even to Hollywood.
At present he is working on several international projects, TV ads and documentaries and also penning a novel along with Stooti Baruah based on a third gender Bihu dancer.