While art and culture is something which is constantly flowing and updating itself, lack of preservation can lead much of it to wither away with time. In Assam, despite boasting of a rich heritage and culture, we had lost many of our work of art like literature, music and cinema because they were not preserved. However, independent filmmaker Himjyoti Talukdar had other ideas and today thanks to his online website Enajori.com, a large chunk of our culture including folksongs, movies, songs, cuisines, poetry, short stories and photos have been archived. Enajori.com won World Summit Award held in Colombo in 2013 and was recognised as one of the top five online projects in the world in the field of digital preservation of cultural heritage. It also won Manthan South Asia & Asia Pacific Award in 2012 for digitisation of cultural heritage of Assam and the website was also included as a reference in Delhi University Modern Indian Language syllabus. Talukdar, who will also come up with directorial debut ‘Calendar’ next year spoke about his journey in an exclusive conversation with Eclectic Northeast.
What was the idea behind starting Enajori.com?
A: I initiated the project in the year 2010. At that time, there were very few Assam related content online. So, I started collecting old articles, songs, photos and archived them online so that they can be preserved. We wanted to make an online bond among different Assamese [people] scattered around the globe.
How difficult was it to collect all these items, some of which are very old?
A: Thankfully, I possessed a lot of heritage stuff and I used them in the archive. Apart from that, many people have contributed especially in archiving music. We have published the name of the contributors in the website.
Though you have a large number of songs and poems in your website, the number of movies and novels are comparatively less.
A: I have three movies in the website namely, Narakasur (1962), Piyoli Phukan (1955) and Gonga Chilonir Pakhi (1976). The problem about collecting movies is that most movies have copyright issues. Also, lot of movies from 1950’s and 1960’s are almost lost. Even their producers and directors would not be able to tell about them. Regarding novels, again the copyright issue comes into play. Sometimes, we come across a material and we don’t know whether publishing it would amount to copyright violation because we can’t trace the publisher. In such cases, we put a disclaimer to contact us if there is copyright violation and we will remove the content.
Tell us something about your subsequent projects in this regard.
A: I started three more websites called Xurorenajori.info, Sahityarathi.com, Dipali Barthakur.info. In Xurorenajori, we have preserved about 18,000 Assamese songs including gramophone records. This website was started in 2012. In Sahityarathi.com, we are in the process of preserving Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaruah’s work. He has an enormous body of work and till now, we have preserved 40% of the total literature. This website is also available as an app on Google Playstore. Similarly, in Dipali Barthakur.info, we are preserving the veteran singer’s work.
Tell us about your directorial debut ‘Calendar’.
A: ‘Calendar’ is a simple family drama starring Arun Nath and Malaya Goswami. It is a very low budget film and we are planning to release it in February next year. The duration of the film will be 90 minutes. We hope that we will be able to engage and entertain the audience with this movie. I had earlier co-produced the movie ‘Marksheet’ which was directed by Ratan Sil Sarma. I wrote the story-screenplay and dialogues of the movie. It was the story of a charming, playful kid Babu who dwells in his own fantastical world much to the dislike of his father who constantly rebukes him for his academic detachment.