Director: Utpal Borpujari
ASSAMESE / 2017 /Colour/90 Minutes
In a remote, tribal village in Assam, Northeastern India, resides Ishwar Prasad Rabha, or Ishu as everyone calls him. Ishu is about 10, goes to the village primary school, and is always busy with either his friends or Bhalu, his pet puppy. And if is not to be found at home, he is to be found at the house of his favourite Ambika “Jethi” (aunt) next door. Happy-go-lucky Ishu is pampered by his grandmother and uncle and loved by his parents. But unknown to him, dark clouds are descending on this happy world of Ishu. The village “Bej” (quack), in a conspiracy hatched with Ishu’s another Jethi Bhadreswari, declares Ambika as a witch. The Bej wants Ambika harmed because his quackery suffers as her herbal medicines cure people of diseases. And Bhadreswari is eyeing the land of Ambika, who is a young widow. Superstitious and illiterate people of the village easily get swayed by the two, and they torture Ambika and burn down her house. Ambika vanishes, and no one seems to know where she is. Ishu, heartbroken, starts looking around. Will he be able to find her? What happened to Ambika? Based on famous Assamese author Manikuntala Bhattacharjya’s novel by the same name, “Ishu” takes a look at the still-continuing despicable practice of witch hunting in Assam through a child’s point of view.
An M.Tech in Applied Geology from IIT-Roorkee, Utpal Borpujari won the Swarna Kamal for Best Film Critic at the 50th National Film Awards of India in 2003. As a professional journalist, apart from cinema, he has written extensively on politics, society, culture, literature, etc., while working with some of India’s top media houses. Since 2010, when he decided to turn a filmmaker, he has made several acclaimed documentary films that have been screened across the world in various film festivals. Among them are “Mayong: Myth/Reality” (2012), “Songs of the Blue Hills” (2013), “Soccer Queens of Rani” and “Memories of a Forgotten War” (2016). Borpujari has also served in international film juries as an erstwhile member of the International Federation of Film Critics, apart from having served on juries for National Film Awards and Indian Panorama. He has also curated films as well as served as a consultant for the Northeastern sections in the International Film Festival of India as well as various other film festivals. “Ishu” is his debut fiction feature.
Screenplay Utpal Borpujari
Cinematographer Sumon Dowerah
Editor A. Sreekar Prasad
Cast Kapil Garo as Ishu, Tonthoingambi Leishangthem Devi as Ambika, Bishnu Khargharia as Bej, Dipika Deka as Radha, Chetana Das as Bhadreswari