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Friday, June 2, 2023

A Candid Conversation With Dr. Juhi P Pathak Who Won Prestigious Sarojini Naidu Award

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A Candid Conversation With Dr. Juhi P Pathak: When we think of “successful” people, we usually think of someone with a bank account in the billions, a famous historical figure, or a world leader. However, when asked to define success, most successful people will say that their accomplishments are not what makes them feel achieved. While some people devote their lives to discovering the concept of success and the characteristics that make someone effective.

On the other hand, women who are successful in life educate themselves on a regular basis. Change is unavoidable no matter what industry you work in. Dr. Juhi Pathak is such a role model for women who want to make a difference in the society.

Dr. Juhi P. Pathak is an author, a researcher, an academician, and a social worker. She has a specialization in print, television, films, and media ethics. Dr. Juhi P. Pathak, an author, researcher, educator, and social worker, has been awarded the Dr Sarojini Naidu International Award for Working Women, 2022. The award was presented at the Asian Academy of Film and Television’s award ceremony (AAFT). Smt. Padma Shri- Padma Shri- Smt. Pratibha Prahlad The chief guests on the occasion were Kumari Devayani and Dr. Phani Jayanti Sen. Dr. Sandeep Marah, President of the International Chamber of Media and Entertainment Industry (ICMEI) and Vice-Chancellor of AAFT Media and Arts University, presented the award.


A Candid Conversation With Dr. Juhi P Pathak:


  1. First of all Congratulations on receiving the prestigious 6th Edition of Dr. Sarojini Naidu International Award for Working Women 2022? How does it feel?

It is always a very good feeling to be awarded. For me, I look at an award as an acknowledgment of the hard work and efforts I have put in to that work. It is always appreciated that our efforts are being recognized. However, here I would like to highlight a very beautiful concept of ‘Chardi Kala’ introduced to me by someone I consider my sister. It means ‘ascending energy’ which means desiring to keep a mental state of everlasting resilience and optimism; and accept everything that happens in one’s life as the ‘will of God’. An award is received for the work that I have already completed. The only objective of holding that award close to my heart that it should always motivate me to deliver better work in the future.

  1. How difficult was the transition from Gauhati University PhD Scholar to academician at a leading private university in the country?

Here, there are three major transitions. One, from a Junior Research Fellow (PhD scholar) to an academician. Second, is the transition from being part of a State University to a private University. Third, is the transition from being in my home State to a different one for work.

All three transitions have their own challenges and advantages. While being a PhD scholar at my Department of Communication and Journalism, Gauhati University, I was given the opportunity to take classes in the Department as well as at the Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL, GU). This experience helped me create my foundation in teaching and made me extremely confident when I got my first full time teaching opportunity in Delhi NCR.

Also Read: WAMUL Guwahati Recruitment 2022 : 22 Assistant & Executive Post

I would not be exaggerating if I say that my transition from the State University to private university has been a smooth one for only one reason. The Departments from which I had the opportunities to acquire education were extremely systematic and competitive. The same work culture was exposed to me at the Private universities I had the chance to work for. Hence, it would be correct to say that the work culture was similar. We have to be resilient, productive, motivated and competitive to be where we are.

Thirdly, while speaking of the transition from being in the home state to another one, it goes without saying that there is a gap on the societal and cultural fronts but, having studied in Universities outside my State from the very beginning, I had become equipped to assimilate myself with the locals of any given place. Moreover, my knack of learning languages helps me in that process. I would take that quality in my stride.

Here, in all three phases of transitions, it would be unfair if I do not mention the support of all my seniors and colleagues who always made me feel at home and allowed me to flourish to my optimum potential for wholesome personal and professional growth.

  1. Your book, ‘Film Appreciation on Cinemas of Jahnu Barua,’ has received a lot of positive feedback. First and foremost, why did you choose to write about Jahnu Barua among many filmmakers, and secondly, why did you choose to bring out this book as a research project?

In my understanding, a researcher is one who posses the skills of keen observation, the ability to corelate and draw parallels from multiple sets of data and analyze and interpret the data. When I first watched Shri Barua’s first film ‘Aparoopa’ it was clear to me why the film was bestowed with the National Award. It motivated me to watch all of his 12 films and my observations on all the aforementioned films resulted into a huge volume of work which had to be trifurcated into three decades of Barua Sir’s contribution to Assamese cinema.

Shri Jahnu Barua is a multiple national and international award-winning Indian film director. He has been conferred Padma Shri (2003) and Padma Bhushan (2015). He has won 12 National Awards.

Despite such huge contributions to mainstream Bollywood and Regional Cinema, very little is known of his work in the academic sphere. The current body of literature on Assamesecinema and its filmmakers is very restricted and limited.

This series of three book attempt to analyze the 12 major Assamese feature films brought out by JahnuBarua and to critically appreciate and analyse them to highlight the various psychological and macro environmental factors underpinning the Assamese society. The first volume was released in the year Nov-Dec 2021. The second book in the series is expected to be out in Nov-Dec 2022. And I am still working on the third volume that I am expecting to be published next year, that is, by 2023 end.

Sometimes when we are having a conviction on a research project, the same is reiterated when the same conviction is accepted by another academic or research institute. The simple way is to write on a subject and publish it as a book. I wanted to take my work one step ahead and bring it out as a form of a research project which would mean that I am not living in my own echo chambers but establish the fact that there are institutions who are having faith in my work as well.

Rejection as they say is a re-direction. The work of a researcher doesn’t end after completion of the project and writing it out as a manuscript. We need support of academia and stakeholders who can support our research endeavor. I faced my share of rejections while I was seeking support, until I discussed my research with an NGO promoting women scholar, CaptAyushPurusartha Foundation (CAPF). During our initial rounds of talks, it took me efforts to convince the panel and the moment I was able to make them understand the vision of this research, they agreed to fully support it. So, the point is, the work doesn’t end with the completion of the research report. Your struggle to establish credibility and convince others to invest in your research is another challenge for which we all have to be prepared. And it is always easy to take the shorter route to everything. The challenge is if we want to take a longer challenging yet more fruitful route.

And God has been kind that the book was widely appreciated and featured on the front pages of prestigious newspapers at both the national level and at the Northeast.

  1. It takes many people a long time to pass the NET and JRF, but you passed on the first try. Do you have any advice to offer?

I would like to answer this question with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “I am a great believer of luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.” And also a statement made by Benjamin Franklin, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

Being engaged with a huge number of students as a teacher, I often hear statements like, “I will take six months / one year break and prepare for UGC – NET/JRF; and I am sure if I work extremely hard, I will be able to crack the exam.”

Here, I correct them in their thought process. We can take breaks for n number of years and even put all our hard work into that goal, but even then we cannot be sure if we will be successful in that endeavor. Success will only come when we make the right strategy and take the right moves in executing that strategy.

I had invested quality time in understanding the pattern of the exam. To me, any exam is like a Chakravyuh. We must understand the code to break it and come out successful.

My advice here is there is no alternative to reading books. If we take an effort to master a subject from a knowledge point of view, it is inevitable that we shall surely pass any exam.

  1. So, Dr. Juhi Pathak Do you believe research has improved or changed your perspective on media and journalism as a researcher?

Curiosity, open mindedness, determination, persistence, patience, keeping integrity in work and decision making with logic and reasoning are a few qualities of a researcher.

Research has not changed my perspective on media. Rather, it has allowed me to contribute to the body of knowledge in the domain of mass communication. Every research-based manuscript that a research scholar writes, is a value addition to the umbrella domain. Hence, I consider myself blessed that through my pen, I am able to add perspectives to this field of knowledge.

  1. How does the regional media system differ from the national media system? Do you believe our regional media could benefit from some improvements?

The basic way in which the national media differs from the regional media is in terms of the news values that they have to cater to. Lets take a rational approach. For a handful of news channels and print newspapers catering to National news, it might be slightly difficult to accommodate all of 29 states along with the union territories. Why should we only see the representation of the 8 states of Northeast?

As a research scholar, I will not go by hearsay but would cite data to put forward my view. As on today, the Office of the Registrar of Newspapers for India has 317 newspapers registered from Assam, 44 from Manipur, 28 from Meghalaya, 59 from Mizoram, 12 from Nagaland, 83 from Sikkim, 68 from Tripura and 25 from Arunachal Pradesh. There are 9 Tv news channels from Assam and now we can see the growth of digital news space coming up which is strengthened by the Northeast Association for Digital Communication and Media (NADCOM). Now the onus is on us to look within for strength and not reply on outside validation for our skills and representation.

  1. Every year, a large number of mass communication and journalism students graduate from the north east’s colleges and universities, but why do most of them lack the desire to pursue a career in the national media sector?

Here, again I would like to give a very pragmatic response to this question. Mass communication is the umbrella domain under which we have a wide array of branches like print, radio, television, digital, advertising, public relations, films among others.

We have data that a huge number of film makers from the state are winning national and international awards. Similarly we have doyens of journalism heading national television news channels, actors ruling the big screens and many names shining like bright stars scattered over the lengths, breadths and centre of our country.

I am extremely confident that if a student has made up his/her mind to pursue the studies of journalism, they are surely passionate to take up a career in the same domain. And if the right skill meets the right opportunity, they will create new benchmarks in the field of mass communication.

However, we also cannot make a statement that students lack a desire to take up career opportunities in the national sector. It may also mean that they have a strong reason and motivation to stay back and contribute at State level.

As stated in the last answer, unless there is motivation we would not have seen large number of print, tv news and digital media proliferating in the entire northeast.

  1. Often in the media and journalism sectors, we see a completely different picture than what we read in our courses; does this have a negative impact on the students?


I am happy you asked this question as I had been trying to set the perspective correct from my prism of thought. As an academician for more than a decade serving at various prestigious Universities, it is a misconception that media education is redundant. Practically, it is not possible as we take feedback from all our stakeholders – students, faculty, alumni and industry – to keep the syllabi of all programmes up to date with the needs and expectations of the industry. The same is approved by Board of Studies that includes experts from the industry and finally approved by the Academic Council. And this is a continuous process year after year. Hence, this myth that media courses are redundant needs to be set correct.






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