Bhabendra Nath Saikia (1932-2003)
Bhabendra Nath Saikia was a renowned Assamese novelist, sort story writer and film maker. He is a popular personality in the field of Assamese culture and literature. Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s literary works and plays are popular among the people even today.
Life of Bhabendra Nath Saikia:
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was born on 20th February in Nagaon. He passed his matriculation examinations in the year 1948, his B. Sc degree with honors in Physics from Cotton College in the year 1952 and his Masters degree in Physics from Presidency College under Calcutta University in the year 1955-1956. Bhabendra Nath Saikia obtained a PhD degree in Physics in the year 1961 from the London University. He also obtained a Diploma of Imperial College of Science and Technology located in London in the year 1961.
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia passed away on 13th August, 2003 in Guwahati. He is survived by his wife Preeti Saikia and two Houston based daughters, Dr. Sangeeta Saikia and Rashmi Saikia.
Career and Works of Bhabendra Nath Saikia:
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia started his brilliant career as a physics teacher initially in Sibsagar College and then shifted to Gauhati University. He was the pioneering motive behind the publication of college level textbooks in Assamese language during his tenure as the Secretary of the CO-ordination Committee for production of textbooks in regional languages. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia also served as the Chairman of the Railway Service Commission of North East Frontier Railways in the early eighties.
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia received more popularity and recognition through his literary works. His literary publications made him a household name in Assam. He is regarded as one of the top ranking writers of Assam. His works have been translated to a number of languages as English, Bengali, Hindi, Telegu, Malayalam, Marathi and Gujarati among others. Bhabendra Nath Saikia has written twenty nine books as of January 2001, which also includes his autobiography ‘Jivan Britta’ which he completed in the year 2000.
He has also written a number of plays for All India Radio (AIR). The plays include Kolahal, Durbhiksha and Itihaas which were taken up as national plays by the AIR. The play ‘Kolahal’ was selected for broadcast from foreign centers.
Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia has also been actively associated with the stage as a playwright and director. He has written many plays for the Mobile theatre of Assam and a number of one act plays. Dr. Saikia directed eight feature films. These films has been screened at different International Film Festivals held in various places like Cannes, Madras, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Bangalore, Calcutta, Karlovy Vary (Czechoslovakia), Nantes (France), Valladolid (Spain), Algiers (Algeria), Pyong Yong (North Korea), Sydney, Munich, Montreal and Toronto. He also directed one episode of a Doordarshan series on Rabindra Nath Tagore’s stories in Hindi. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia's films include ‘Sandhyarag’, ‘Anirban’, ‘Agnisan’, ‘Kolahal’, ‘Sarothi’, ‘Abartan’, ‘Itihaas’ in Assamese and ‘Kalsandhya’ in Hindi. His literary collections include novels like ‘Antarip’, ‘Ramyabhumi’, ‘Atankar Shekhot’, short story collections like ‘Prahari’, ‘Sendur’, ‘Gahabar’, ‘Upakantha’, ‘Sandhya Bhraman’ ‘Akash’, children books like ‘Maramar Deuta’, ‘Tumalukor Bhal Houk’, ‘Morom’ and essay collections like ‘Xekh Pristha’. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia also wrote plays like ‘Romyabhumi’, ‘Neelakontho’, ‘Deenabandhu’, ‘Amrapali’, ‘Monkut’ among others.
Bhabendra Nath Saikia was the founder editor of the Assamese magazine ‘Prantik’ which was published fortnightly from Guwahati since 1981. This magazine played a vital role on the socio-political lives of the people of Assam. Dr. Saikia was also the founder editor of the popular Assamese children’s magazine ‘Sofura’. As an editor of this magazine, he was intensely involved with the cultural growth and development of children. During his journalism career, he broke new grounds in the field to pave a new way to future journalism in Assam.
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was also instrumental in the conception and development of Sri Sankardeva Kalakshetra, Assam and he served as its vice Chairman until August 2003. He was actively involved in the creation, proposal, construction and planning of the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra. This cultural center which is one of its kinds in Assam was built in the memory of the great Assamese cultural legend Shrimanta Sankardeva.
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was a member of a number of reputed organizations and councils. He was the member of Sangeet Natak Akademi and a member of the Executive and General Council of Sahitya Akademi. He was also the member of Indian National Council for co-operation with the UNESCO and of the Academic Council of Gauhati University. He was the president of Jyoti Chitraban (Film Studio) Society and a member of the advisory body of the All India Radio, Guwahati. Dr. Saikia was the Chairman of the Assam State Film (Finance and Development) Corporation Limited. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was also the member of the governing body of the North East Zone Cultural Center in Dimapur. Simultaneously, he was also the member one Cultural Center in Kolkata. Bhabendra Nath Saikia also was the member of Court of Guwahati University, Assam and of the Society f the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. He was also the member of the Board of Trustees of the National Book Trust of India.
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia also established the Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia Children Welfare Trust (Aarohan) in Guwahati which he regarded as his dream and fulfillment of his life’s work.
Awards and Recognitions of Bhabendra Nath Saikia:
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was the recipient of a number of prestigious awards. He is recognized as the pioneer in development of the Assamese culture and literature through his works. His works depict the thinking and the common Assamese person life. Dr. Saikia was honored with the Sahitya Academy (India) Award in the year 1976, the Publication Board Assam Award in the inaugural year 1973 and the Sahityik Hara Nath Ghosh Medal in 1981 which was given by Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in Calcutta. He also received the Assam Valley Literary Award in the inaugural year 1990 which was instituted by the Magor Education Trust. He received the Surendra Nath Paul Award for lifetime achievement which was awarded by the Tea festival of Calcutta in the year 1999. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was honored with the Srimanta Sankardeva Award in the year 1998. This is the highest award instituted by the Assam Government in the state. He received the Kamal Kumari National Award for the year 2000. In the year 2001, the Dibrugarh University conferred him with the Degree of D. Litt, honoris Causa in recognitions for his outstanding contribution to the fields of cinema and literature. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian Government in the year 2001.
The films directed by Bhabendra Nath Saikia were all awarded the ‘Rajat Kamal’ award as the best regional films in India. He received this Rajat Kamal Award for his film Sandhyaraag in the year 1978, for Anirban in 1981, Agnisnaan in 1985, Kolahal in 1988, Sarothi in 1992, Abartan in 1994 and for Itihaas in 1996 respectively. He also won the prestigious National Award for the best screenplay for his film ‘Agnisnaan’. Dr. Saikia’s films have been included in the Indian Panorama section of the Indian Film Festival and have been screened at many international film festivals. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was adjudged as one of the ‘Twenty-One Greatest Assamese Persons of the Twentieth Century’.
Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia was posthumously honored with the naming of few awards and cultural centers. He was honored posthumously with the naming of the Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia road in Guwahati and by naming a children’s amusement park in Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra after him. He was also honored posthumously with naming of Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia library at the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati. A cultural award named the Bhabendra Nath Saikia Cultural Award was also posthumously named after him. The first recipient of this award was film maker Jahnu Barua in the year 2010.