Guwahati: From the records of Jyoti Chitraban Digital Archive, it is found that the second Assamese film is “Devdas”, a 1937 film made by Pramathesh Chandra Barua. The finding would like to set the records of Assamese film history straight, as till now Jyotiprasad Agarwala’s second film “Indramalati” (1939) was believed and recorded as the second Assamese film. Information available in Wikipedia also confirms it.
“Devdas” directed by Barua starred ace Assamese actor-director Phani Sarma as Devdas, Mohini as Chandramukhi and Zubeida as Paro. The songs were playbacked by Shamshad Begum and Bhupen Hazarika. This was Barua’s last of three language versions, the first being in Bengali made in 1935 and the second being in Hindi made in 1936.
One of the greatest filmmakers in Indian film history, Pramathesh Chandra Barua was the son of the Zamindar of Gauripur in western Assam, where he was born and spent his childhood. After his graduation from Presidency College, Calcutta, he travelled to Europe, where he received his first exposure to films. After returning, he served for a time in the Assam Legislative Assembly but ultimately moved to Calcutta and later began a career in films.
Barua’s breakthrough film was indeed the 1935 version of “Devdas” where he himself was in the title role, whereas his Hindi version had K L Saigal as the leading man. The Hindi version became a craze all throughout India; it cemented Barua as a top-notch director and Saigal as the top-notch hero of Indian films. He made many other films, but “Devdas” remained the most celebrated film in his career that ended in his premature death in 1951, incidentally the same year Jyotiprasad Agarwala breathed his last.