Manipur’s first national award winning female filmmaker Meena Longjam said that banning Hindi films from screening in Manipur cinema halls has been a blessing in disguise as it gave the opportunity for the independent filmmakers to come out using the digital medium.

Longjam, who won the national award for her documentary ‘Autodriver’, also said that in spite of the apathy of the government Manipur has been able to produce some of best filmmakers in the entire region.

“After the banning of Hindi films in 2000 by a group of outfits, all the cinema halls perished. But it gave a new horizon to digital films to spurge in Manipur. We have made films for our people, our land and for the world to know about us, but you feel disheartened when you don’t have good platforms to screen and also invite filmmakers from around the world to see where we stand today,” Longjam, was in Guwahati recently, told The News Mill.

Her film ‘Autodriver’ is about Laibi, a lady auto driver based in conflict torn Imphal city. In order to support an ailing husband and education of her two sons, she took up this profession defying a traditional society. It won the national award in 2015 for best social issue.

“I believe, today Manipur has produced the most of the major documentary filmmakers. They all come independently with themselves – mostly returned from Film and Television Institute of India or Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute,” she said.

Longjam rued at not having proper facilities in Manipur for encouraging the filmmakers. She said that apart from a Manipur film award, there’s nothing.

“We have not been able to host any film festival for past many years. I mean since I have arrived in the scene, I haven’t seen. This is lack of support in that sense. We have a small organization called Tele Cine Foundation comprising young filmmakers. This group has been organizing screenings, master classes and everything. They have actually backed the new documentary filmmakers in Manipur,” said Longjam.

Her latest documentary titled ‘Achoubi in Love’ tells the story of an impeccable effort of Achoubi, a widow who reinvents a solution to protect indigenous Manipuri ponies.

Slamming the present government, she said that they only promise but don’t exactly do the things.

“We don’t have a film school in Manipur. Manipur State Film and Television Institute (MSFTI) was supposed to come up in 2016. It was initiated by the past government and even hired a director from Kolkata but the current government is doing nothing in that regard,” Longjam added.

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About Abdul Gani


Abdul Gani is a Guwahati-based journalist