Akanshya Bhagabati’s short film ‘Kumu’ won the prestigious John Abraham National Award for best short feature at the 15th edition of the reputed SiGNS Film Festival, Kerala.
Organized by the Federation of Film Societies of India – Keralam, SiGNS is a pioneering festival in India featuring national level competition for documentaries and short fiction for the prestigious John Abraham National Awards.
Akanshya Bhagabati, who has previously worked as an assistant director in Parthajit Baruah’s ‘The Children of God’, and also a final year student of the department of mass communication and journalism, Tezpur University said: “I have not attended any film school, but the story that I have attempted to express here is very special to me, and it is this concept that has given me the strength and enthusiasm to turn it into a film, and receiving this prestigious award, I am overwhelmed with joy and a great sense of honour.”
‘Kumu’ is set against the lush green tea gardens of Assam, where it follows the life of a 12-year-old Adivasi girl, Kumu, who was forced to forsake her education and carefree life owing to familial circumstances. Through the journey of Kumu, the film focuses on how the Adivasi children living in the tea gardens of Assam are deprived of their childhood happiness and hopes, beauty and parental care and are even forbidden from dreaming of a life beyond their predetermined fate.
The cinematography of the film is credited to Chida Bora who has previously worked in Jaicheng Jai Dohutia’s national award-winning film ‘Haanduk, the Hidden Corner’.
Renowned national award-winning singer Tarali Sarma has composed the music for this film. Sound design is credited to national award-winning sound designer Debajit Gayan, colour grading by Suraj Duara, who directed the national award-winning film Orang. The film is edited by Hirak Jyoti Pathak.
The character of ‘Kumu’ is played by Nayanmomi Mura, from Dhontula Tea Estate near Nagaon, where the entire film was shot.
About the award:
John Abraham Award was instituted in 1999 by the Kerala Region of the Federation of Film Societies of India in memory of John Abraham, the filmmaker who was the guiding spirit behind radical initiatives for people’s cinema.
From 2005, the competition was extended to the national level, and the festival was renamed SiGNS, with a focus on documentary and short films in video format. In its 15th edition, this year SiGNS has carved a niche for itself on the festival map in India.