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Friday, May 14, 2021

Yearlong celebration to mark 50 years of Manipuri cinema begins

On this day in 1972, Manipur’s first feature film ‘Matamgi Manipur’, directed by Debkumar Bose, was released. Since then, the film fraternity has been observing April 9 as ‘Mami Numit’ (Birth of Manipuri Cinema).

Written by Jimmy Leivon | Imphal |
Updated: April 10, 2021 12:40:26 am
Manipuri cinemaFelicitiation of film pioneers and outstanding artistes, distribution of the 13th Manipur State Film Awards 2020 also marked the opening day of the 50th birth anniversary of Manipur cinema.

The yearlong golden jubilee celebration of Manipuri cinema began on Friday with Chief Minister N Biren Singh unveiling a mega memorial monolith erected on the premises of Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS) in Imphal.

On this day in 1972, Manipur’s first feature film ‘Matamgi Manipur’, directed by Debkumar Bose, was released. Since then, the film fraternity has been observing April 9 as ‘Mami Numit’ (Birth of Manipuri Cinema).

Despite having personal health complications, Debkumar Bose came all the way from Kolkata to take part in the celebration alongside eminent film personalities of Manipur. The gathering offered floral tributes to the departed pioneers of Manipuri cinema.

The 87-year-old filmmaker almost broke into tears as he shared his experiences of working on the first Manipuri feature film. He won the President’s Medal in the National Film Awards for ‘Matamgi Manipur’.

“When I was asked how I can make a film in a totally different language, my answer was I know the language of cinema and it is universal. As my father Debaki Bose always told me, lips just move, eyes do the talking and we understand the heart by looking in the eyes,” he added.

Bose said his dream is to see the Manipuri cinema shine on the international stage. He appealed to film enthusiasts and the public to support Manipuri cinema.

In honour of the first Manipuri filmmaker SN Chand, a Cine Archive and Museum, aimed at preserving the film heritage of Manipur, was also inaugurated by the chief minister.

Aribam Sham Sharma, a doyen of Manipuri cinema, did not turn up at the inaugural function but were among those who were paid floral tributes.

Sunzu Bachaspatimayum, secretary, MSFDS, said in his keynote address that the celebration has been designed as an initiative to take Manipuri cinema to the next level.

“A variety of events has been planned to enable Manipur become a cinema hub. While the government has approved the Manipur State Cine Policy last year, a Manipur Cine Commission has been constituted a few days back for judicious implementation of the policy to address the grievances of the film community,” he said, adding the film archive will be fully functional very soon.

The CM, who is also the chairperson of the MSFDS, said that he is saddened to see the pathetic condition of reels of old Manipuri celluloid classics.

He said lack of infrastructure and monetary support are major factors hindering the growth of Manipuri cinema at the international level. “Nevertheless, we are striving for change. The museum and archive facility is a step towards taking our films to the world and the government is ready to extend all possible support for promotion of Manipuri cinema,” the chief minister said

A specially curated package of Manipuri cinema from the last five decades will be screened at the Palace auditorium throughout the yearlong celebration, in a phased manner.

Under the ‘Northeast Focus’ section, fiction and non-fiction films made by the filmmakers of the Northeast will be screened as well. Internationally acclaimed Assamese filmmaker Rima Das will present a film and also take part in the Cine-Dialogue. Other emerging filmmakers such as Dominic Sangma of Meghalaya, Kivini Shohe and Yapangnaro Longkumer of Nagaland, Sange Dorjee of Arunachal Pradesh and Dawa Lepcha of Sikkim will also be added attractions at the event. Their films would also be screened during the yearlong celebration.

Founder-director of Film Heritage Foundation, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur and Assamese filmmaker Manju Borah also among the dignitaries of the inaugural event.

After the opening function, ‘Matamgi Manipur’ was screened as the opening film to kick off the yearlong celebration.

Felicitiation of film pioneers and outstanding artistes, distribution of the 13th Manipur State Film Awards 2020 also marked the opening day of the 50th birth anniversary of Manipur cinema.

In the non-feature film category, ‘Highways of Life’ won the Best Film award, while Biju Das picked up the award for Best Editing (Highways of Life). Amar Maibam won Best Director for ‘Highways of Life’, while the award for Best Cinematography went to Amar Maibam for the same film.

Borun Thokchom’s ‘I Rise’ was declared the Best Film on Social Issues. The Best Audiography Award was won by Ph Shananda Sharma, Akee Sorokhaibam and Tomba Khundrakpam for ‘I Rise’.

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