Veteran Assamese film actor Biju Phukan, who had also directed a couple of films in his career spanning nearly 50 years, passed away at a private hospital here on Wednesday. Phukan, who was 70, is survived by his wife Rajashre Phukan, a son, a daughter and huge number of fans.
Phukan, who made his debut on the silver screen as a member of a music band in Brajen Barua’s superhit “Dr Bezbarua” in 1969, was elevated to a hero in the same director’s “Baruar Sansar” the very next year. The second film in which he played the main role, that of a forest officer fighting rhino poachers – “Aranya” by Samarendra Narayan Dev in 1971 – won a Rajat Kamal for being the best regional (Assamese) film.
While he had acted in over 60 Assamese and a couple of Bengali films too, Biju Phukan will be mostly remembered for two particular roles he played, the first being a typical Assamese village youth in Shiva Thakur’s “Bowari” (1982), with the song “Mon heera doi, cycle nohoy tilinga…” still remaining immensely popular even after 35 years. “His best however was the role of Mohikanta, a wealthy villager in ‘Agnisnaan’, a story set in the 1940s, written and directed by Bhabendra Nath Saikia in 1985, for which Moloya Goswami, who played his first wife, had received the National best actress award,” said noted film critic Utpal Datta.
Condoling his death, noted Delhi-based film-maker Utpal Borpujari said, “A legend of Assamese cinema has gone. Biju Phukan was a dashing superstar, superb actor, perfect gentleman,” he said. Condoling his death, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Assamese cinema has lost a great pillar. His contribution to the growth and development of Assamese cinema will be always remembered.”
Phukan, who also spent a couple of years in the highly popular mobile theatre industry in the early 1980s, had also acted in Brajen Barua’s ‘Opaja Sonar Maati’ and ‘Lalita’ (both 1972), Deuti Barua’s ‘Brishti’ (1974), Shiva Thakur’s ‘Bowari’ (1982), ‘Ghar-Sansar’ (1983), ‘Man-Mandir (1985) and ‘Ashanta Prahar’ (1994), Nip Barua’s blockbuster ‘Ajoli Nabou’ (1980) and ‘Anthony Mor Naam’ (1986), Munin Barua’s ‘Pita-Putra’ (1998), ‘Pahari Kanya’ (1990), ‘Barood’ and ‘Rang’ (both 2004), apart from Jahnu Barua’s national award-winning films ‘Aparoopa” (1982) and ‘Papori’ (1986).
Active in public life too, Biju Phukan had also tried his luck in politics, having first contested, unsuccessfully though, in the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat as an Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) candidate in 1999, and then as a Trinamool Congress candidate for the Guwahati Lok Sabha seat in 2014.