Veteran Assamese film and stage actor Indra Bania passed away in a private hospital in Guwahati on Wednesday night following prolonged illness. He was 73.
Bania had shot into fame in Jahnu Barua’s ‘Halodhiya Choraiye Bao-dhan Khay’ (The Catastrophe) that had also won the Swarna-kamal for the best film in 1988.
Born in 1942 at Dhalpur, a remote village in Lakhimpur district in eastern Assam, Bania had first grabbed the limelight by playing the lead male role in ‘Gobardhan Charit’ in the 1970s in All India Radio, Guwahati. He had however started to earn a living through popular comedy shows on the stage, performing across the state especially during the Rongali Bihu festival.
It was however Jahnu Barua, the best-known filmmaker from Assam who chose Indra Bania to play the lead role of Raseswar Bora in ‘Halodhiya Choraiye Bao-dhan Khay’ in 1988, for which the actor narrowly missed the best actor’s award in the national film festival. That however was more than compensated when Bania was chosen for the Silver Leopard Best Actor’s award at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, particularly because he is so far the only Indian actor to have won that award.
Winner of several state-level awards, Indra Bania had acted in more than 40 Assamese films in a screen career spanning over four decades.
In 2007 Bania played the lead role in Enisha Sharma’s ‘Freedom at the Edge’ – a film on Machang Lalung, a poor tribal from Silchang in Assam who was confined in a prison for 54 years without any trial.