prathmesh-barua

Pramathesh Chandra Barua (24 October 1903 – 29 November 1951) was a famous actor, director, and screenwriter of Indian films in the pre-independence era.

Barua was the son of the Zamindar of Gauripur, Assam, where he was born and spent his childhood. He studied at Hare School, Calcutta and then Bachelor of Science graduated from Presidency College, Calcutta in 1924. At the age of only 18, while still studying in college, he got married. It was arranged by the family. He had two more marriages. His third wife was film actress Jamuna Barua. After his graduation, he travelled to Europe, where he received his first exposure to films. After returning, he served for a time in the Assam Legislative Assembly and joined the Swaraj Party but ultimately moved to Calcutta and later began a career in films, much to the chagrin of his father.

Barua made a small investment in Dhirendra Nath Ganguly’s Indo British Film Co, and also worked for him as an actor. He then went to Europe for a second time, observing production of movies in London. After purchasing some lighting equipment in Paris, he returned to India and established Barua Pictures Limited. The studio’s first major project was Apradhi in 1931, a silent film that starred Barua and was directed by Debaki Bose. The film became a critical success, and Barua went on to play the villain in Bhagyalaxmi (1932), directed by Dhiren Ganguly. Barua later hired Ganguly when British Dominion Films failed, and the two of them, along with Debaki Bose, then joined New Theatres.

Barua’s breakthrough with New Theatres came with Devdas in 1935. The film was first made in Bengali, with Barua himself in the title role; he then remade it in Hindi as the 1936 film Devdas, with K.L. Saigal as the leading man. The Hindi version became a craze all throughout India; it cemented Barua as a top-notch director and Saigal as the top-notch hero of Indian films.The Devdas (Assamese) was Barua’s last of three language versions. Barua followed up Devdas with Manzil in 1936, Mukti in 1937, Adhikar in 1938, Rajat Jayanti in 1939, and Zindagi (which reunited him with Saigal) in 1940. Phani Majumdar who later became a noted film director in his own right, started his film career with Barua at New Theatres.

Barua’s films were photographed by Bimal Roy, who would later become an accomplished director in his own right.

Barua left New Theatres in 1939 and freelanced thereafter. However, of his post-New Theatres films, only Shesh Uttar/Jawab (1942) stood out. He planned an Indian version of The Way of All Flesh, but it never materialised.[citation needed] He took to drinking heavily, and his health began to decline; he died in 1951.