A Golden Awakening
Who art thou
-- Jyoti Prasad Agarwala
Jyoti Prasad Agarwala (1903-51) was a pioneer of Assamese culture who carried
forward the values of communal harmony inherited from Sankardev and Madhavdev
and strove to build a democratic mass culture. A creative genius, he made the
first Assamese film “Joymati” in 1934 in his makeshift studio ‘Chitraban’.
He also built the first cinema hall in Assam in 1937. Popularly known as ‘Rupkonwar’,
Jyotiprasad Agarwala composed about 300 songs and himself set quite a few of
them to music. He has also written nine plays. Apart from writing 3 books on
child literature, he explored almost every corner of literature and art. In
his works he dwells on the task of the present generation as a renewal of tradition
by discarding dead wood and reviving creativity. In all departments of life,
right from constitution-building to public architecture he issues a clarion
call for overthrow of colonial mental servitude and awakening of the native
creative spirit while stressing the value of the unique regional and national
features, he never loses sight of their place in the universal polyphony of
resurgent mankind. The freedom movement is seen by him as a historic moment
in man’s struggle to liberate his creative energy from all useless divisions
and fossilized remnants of the past and re-discover his integrity in a new civilization
where man’s passion for artistic expression and beauty becomes sovereign.
Art and beauty, according to him, are to be achieved not by abandoning the material, practical world, but by transmuting it with the creative freedom of man. The historical separation of the intellect from manual labour, of the cultural elite from the masses, must be overcome in a society where everyone in his field becomes a productive artist.
The year-long birth centenery celebrations of Jyotiprasad Agarwala started in June last year