Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was a well known novelist, short story writer and film director from Assam. He won many literary awards, including Sahitya Akademi in 1976, and was also honored with the Padma Shri award in 2001.
Bhabendra Nath Saikia was born on 20 February 1932 in Faujdari Patti, Nagaon town in Assam, India. He was born in a poor family. His father, Bidur Chandra Saikia, was a teacher; and tried hard to make both the ends meet. In 1948, he passed his matriculation examination, and the Intermediate examination in Science in 1950. He graduated with a BSc honours degree in 1952 from the Cotton College of Gauhati University. He later received a post graduate degree in Physics from the Presidency College of Calcutta University.
In 1961, he obtained his PhD in physics from the University of London. Same year he also obtained a Diploma from the Imperial College of Science & Technology, London. Later he joined the Gauhati University and worked as a reader in Physics.
His Contributions in Literature, Theatre and Cinema
Dr. Saikia became a member of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, which started his illustrious career in Assamese theatre. He also edited an Assamese monthly magazine the Prantik and an Assamese children’s magazine named Xaphura. He was also the president of the only film studio in Assam, Jyoti Chitraban.
He made seven Assamese films and for each of his films he won the National Awards. In 2001, Dr Saikia was awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions to the literature, culture and cinema of Assam.
Dr. Saikia established the Aarohan Trust in Guwahati, using the money he received from the Assam Valley Literary Award, to provide free training to poor children interested in art, theatre and music.
He is recognized as one of the top writers of Assam and his works have been translated into English, Hindi and several Indian languages like Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati etc.
He had also written several plays for All India Radio (AIR) and many of his plays like Kolahal, Durbhiksha and Itihaas were taken up by the AIR as national plays. He was also associated actively with the theatre as a playwright and director. He had written many plays and one-act plays for the famous Assamese Mobile Theater industry, most notably with Abahan Theater.
He had directed eight feature films, which have been screened at International Film Festivals held at various places such as Cannes, Karlovy Vary (Czechoslovakia), Nantes (France), Valladolid (Spain), Algiers (Algeria), Sydney, Munich, Montreal and Toronto. He had also directed a Doordarshan TV series based on Rabindra Nath Tagore’s stories in Hindi.
He received the the Rajat Kamal Award of the Government of India for the film Sandhyarag in 1978, Anirban in 1981, Agnisnan in 1985, Kolahal in 1988, Sarothi in 1992, Abartan in 1994 and for Itihaas in 1996.
Dr. Saikia died on 13 August 2003 in Guwahati at the age of 71. He is survived by his wife Preeti Saikia and two daughters. The Assam Government has named a road in Guwahati and a state award in his honour. An amusement park and a library in Guwahati has also been named after him.
Quote by Bhabendra Nath Saikia
“I cannot make movies which are contrary to practicality. I have never made such films, nor I would make in future. My cinema/movies illustrates factual aspects of human life, with possible artistic inputs from me, both as a writer and movie-maker.”
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah