Utpal Borpujari’s debut feature film, Ishu (Assamese, 91 minutes, 2017), which was produced by Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) won the Special Jury Award in the Chitra Bharathi Indian Film Competition at the 10th Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES). The festival was organised in Bengaluru from February 22 to March 1 and the best films in various categories from around the world were chosen to compete.
‘Ishu’ that is an adaptation of Manikuntala Bhattacharjya’s novel by the same name earlier received a nomination for Best Director and Best Film in the Indian Language Competition organized by the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival. Moreover, it has was also screened in Canada Kids Film Festival (Toronto), International Children’s Film Festival Bangladesh (Dhaka, International Competition), 3rd Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFFCY, New Delhi), 3rd Eye Asian Film Festival Mumbai, 10th International Guwahati Film Festival (organised by Gauhati Cine Club) and the 1st Assam International Rural Film Festival, Meleng Phesual (Jorhat), among many others. In the upcoming event chart, ‘Ishu’ has also been selected for the competition in Toulouse Indian Film Festival, France, that is scheduled to be held in April. Helmed by Borpujari who is a film critic and former journalist, the film boldly portrays the inhumane practice of witch hunting that is still prevalent in rural parts of India. The film is narrated from the perspective of a child whose aunt is tagged as a “witch” by the villagers. Starring Kapil Garo as the young male actor, the film’s ensemble cast also includes National Award-winning Bishnu Kharghoria and Tonthoingambi Leishangthem Devi, and veteran actors like Chetana Das and Pratibha Choudhury.
The jury in its citation wrote that the award has been given to Ishu “for a vivid portrayal of how indigenous communities confront and overcome their barbaric practices from within. The film also looks at the interface of tradition and modernity avoiding hierarchical categories”.
Watch: Trailer of ISHU: