indian cinema heritage foundation
  • Release Date03/04/1941
  • LanguageAssamese

Manomati, the third Assamese film after Joymoti and Indramalati, and the first film to have its own film poster, is based on Rajani Kanta Bordoloi’s second novel of the same title. Known as Upanyash Samrat (King of Novel-writing) Bordoloi’s novel depicts the historical background of the last few years of Ahom rule in Assam, and offers a vivid picture of the Burmese invasion of Assam. In fact, the Burmese invaded Assam three times, between 1817 and 1821, and these invasions weakened the Ahom kingdom and eventually led to its fall.

The film Manomati, directed and produced by Rohini Kumar Baruah, and released at Ronghor, Dibrugarh on 3rd April, 1941, unfolds a love story against the historical backdrop of the third Burmese invasion of Assam. The film centers around the theme of romance between Lakshmikanta and Manomati, and their struggle for union due to a clash of their respective families. Lakshmikanta and his friend Manuhar visit Barpeta Satra to watch the 'daul' festival and there, Lakshmikanta meets Manomati and gets attracted to her. Lakshmikanta is the son of Halakanta Baruah of Jugirpam and Manomati is the adopted daughter of Chandi Baruah of Barnagar. Their families have conflicts for a long period of time which stand as a hurdle between the two lovers. But Manomati’s friend Promila is instrumental in the union of the lovers secretly in the garden-house of Chandi Barua's residence. The happy union is suddenly disrupted as the same night, the Burmese attack Chandi Barua’s house. It happens as Halakanta Baruah connives and assists the Burmese to invade Bornagar, and attack Chandi Baruah to avenge an old grudge against him. As a consequence, the Burmese capture Manomati, her friend Promila, Shantiram and Lakshmikanta. When the Burmese General Mingimaha Tilwa attacks Assam for the first time, he takes an Assamese girl Padumi with him and makes her his consort. Padumi’s love for her motherland is clear when she plays a vital role in the release of the captives. The role of the protagonist Manomati was played by Neelima Datta Das who was just 12-13 years old then. This was the one and only film in which she acted. Similarly, the director and producer Rohini Kumar Baruah never attempted to make his second film. This film incorporated 10 songs, and the music was composed by Kamal Narayan Choudhury. Ashok Sen was in charge of the cinematography while editing was handled by Biren Guha and Jiban Phukan, and sound recording was by Shambhu Singh. The background score was designed by Ranjit Roy.