The one name that coinsures up a feeling of warmth in every Assamese heart is that of Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia. His gift to the Assamese Society and in the fields of art., culture and literature has not yet been adequately measured. A very capable student of Physics and successful teacher of Gauhati University, Dr. Saikia entered the arena of literature with a few short stories that have shaken the very foundation of the form & style of Assamese fiction. With an eye to very minute details he used his pen with a depth surgeon's precision. That was a unique beauty of his literary creations.
He passed his matriculation examination in 1948 and the Intermediate examination in Science in 1950, both with first division marks. He passed B.Sc. Examination in 1952 with honors in Physics from the Cotton College of Gauhati University. He received a post graduate degree in Physics from the Presidency College of Calcutta University. He obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of London in 1961. He also obtained a Diploma from the Imperial College of Science & Technology, London in 1961. He later worked as reader in Physics at the Gauhati University. He became a Member, Sangeet Natak Akademi, India.
Dr. Saikia started his illustrious career as a physics teacher, first at the Sibsagar College and then at the Guwahati University. He did pioneering work in the publication of college level textbooks in the Assamese language during his tenure as Secretary of the Co-ordination Committee for production of textbooks in regional languages. He served as the Chairman of the Railway Service Commission, North East Frontier Railways in the early eighties.
However, it was his literary genius that made Dr. Saikia a household name in Assam. Be it short stories, novels, stage plays or children's literature –Dr. Saikia's stature in Assamese literature is unparalled. He was the author of twenty nine books as of January, 2001 which also included his autobiography Jivan Britta that he completed in 2000.
In a career of 21 years from 1977 to 1999 Saikia made 8 films, 7 in Assamese and 1 in Hindi. Kalakhetra 6 films include - Sandhyaraag, Anirban, Kolahal, Itihas, Abartan and Agnisnan.
His creativity is such that he was always found at the head of a line of stalwarts in his own field. Dr. Saikia with a handful of very distinct few of his age group, has taken Assamese literature to a very respectable height and in the process a horde of awards came his away. What is remarkable in his case is that the discerning people of Assam have lost count of the awards but have kept close to their heart his works like "SHRINGKHAL", "BANAPRASTHA," "GAHBAR", "ANTAREEP" and the like. Added to this glorious creations, Dr. Saikia has made his way to a totally different field,namely of films. Someone has said about Dr. Saikia that he has a "Midas Touch" in whatever he puts his hand on. As if to prove this, he has directed such remarkable films like "SANDHYARAAG", "AGNISHNAN", " KOLAHAL", " SARATHI", and "KAALSANDHYA". Each & everyone of his films received not only rave reviews but also recognition both in the country and abroad. An important point to be noted that all his films were based on his own literary creations. One good aspect of this transformation is that he could translate every bit of his literary details to celluloid. These achievements, it is needless to say, have done us proud.
From Sandhyaraag in 1977 to Kalsandhya in 1999, this man has not only churned out eight films, but also established the fact that even without a conducive environ-ment for filmmaking in the State, good films can be made. He has been credited, by friends and foes alike, with the distinction of taking the Assamese film movement to the national and international levels. And, Dr Saikia has done this almost single handedly.
His first film Sandhyaraag created a record, being the first Assamese film to be included in the Indian Panorama section of the International Film festival of India such as Cannes , Montreal , Toronto , Karlovy Vary , and Nantes. There was no looking back after that, and the maestro's works almost monopolised the state film industry as far as inclusions in the Indian Panorama were concerned. Except Anirbaan in 1981, all the other films went for the Indian Panorama section of the International Film Festival of India.
Dr Saikia has also put his hand & heart in the publication of few prestigious journals, the most popular "PRANTIK" is one with which he was associated from the very start. A children's journal "SOFURA" discontinued for sometime, but has started again under his able leadership. Readers of "PRANTIK" will agree, that Dr. Saikia has given the journal a very respectable look not only its presentation but also in the variety and depth of its contents.
Dr. Saikia's creativity found other equally successful outlets. His radio plays are one. More particularly a few he created for children has not been bettered as yet by other similar creations. He has also given a status to the most famous trend in Assamese Theatre, Namely Mobile Theatre. A hitherto unknown trend was established by a few such theatrical group with very rich plays and appropriate directional touch by him.
He received the Sahitya Academy (India) Award in 1976, the Publication Board, Assam, Award in 1973 (Inaugural Year) and the Sahityik Hara Nath Ghosh Medal,1981 given by the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, Calcutta, the Assam Valley Literary Award, 1990 (Inaugural Year) institutated by the Magor Education Trust and the Surendra Nath Paul Award for lifetime achievement, awarded by the cha – cha – cha Tea Festival of Calcutta in 1999.
He was honoured with the Srimanta Sankardeva Award, the highest award Instituted by the Government of Assam, for the year 1998, and the Kamal Kumari National Award for the year 2000. In 2001, the Dibrugarh University conferred the Degree of D.Litt, honoris Causa on Dr. Saikia in recognition of his outstanding contribution in the fields of cinema and literature. He was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India in the same year.
Having spent his childhood in poverty, 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. Dr. Saikia died on August 13, 2003 in Guwahati and 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.
Contact Address Of Aarohan :
Aarohan, Dr. Bhabendra Nath Sakia Road
Basisthapur, Guwahati - 781028, Assam
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org