Film Review : Experimental short film “Ei” by Andy Tourangbam Meitei
Name: Ei (translated ‘I’)
Length: 7 min 46 secs
Director/Editor: Andy Tourangbam Meitei
Music Composer: 15 Lightgrey & Milan (Sam Paa)
Cinematographer: Various Artist
Release Date: 24/03/2018
Produced by: NONSENSE films
The avant-garde and modernism movement in Paris started and flourished in the early 20’s. However, it takes to cross a millennium and a decade and a half to witness it in Manipur. No, we have not witnessed much modernism in literature and arts, yet there exists some. But not enough to call it a movement as it’s still a matter of one’s own fancy rather than building up as a popular movement. Let’s spare it, shall we? It’s just a small state after all, Amazon delivery takes more than 10 days; what more should I say. But there’s always something good under the sun. It is quite a pleasurable fact that modernism has its conspicuous impact on films and theatre in the recent years. Thanks to the dedicated saviors who have realised the importance of arts in our survival; not like how the Aadhar card is important, but more like how water is essential for survival.
A recent example is the short film ‘Ei’ by Andy Meitei which is entirely crowd sourced and was released for mass viewing on YouTube. The film claims to have taken inspiration from the universally acclaimed travelogue documentary ‘Samsara’ and the crowd sourced film ‘Life in a Day’. Like Samsara, Ei shows mundane things that we come across in our daily lives and unlike it, the film does not have a narrative nor is it filmed by the compiler himself. Like Life in a Day, the footages are all shot in one particular day and unlike it, Ei does not show diversity but an uncanny singularity. Despite these vivid influences, Ei shares strong similarities with a particular experimental film called ‘As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty’ made by the daring avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas. The idea behind Andy as well as Jonas seems to be motivated by a certain motif : to explore the beauty and elegance in the ordinary.
As far as the contributors are concerned, the immediacy of their cameras should be praised. They are not pretentious, which in my opinion, is a great achievement because these days we’re constantly fed with ‘fake plastic’ videos on social media. Anything in our environment has become a prop for a pretentious video. The contributors displayed the naked truth of their daily lives, devoid of any props. In other words, its just like ruminating the taste of the cheese alone, before being grated onto bread. And like all non-narrative films, Ei depends on a definitive soundtrack which is a new-age composition built on an electronic beat layered over with an oriental instrument. The significance of the soundtrack is that when it is amalgamated with the film, it will not fail to compel any non-Manipuri viewer that the film belongs to somewhere in South-East Asia. One of the most interesting detail of the film is that the random videos are compiled chronologically in order to depict the occurrences on a particular day from dawn till dusk in the unrelated lives of different individuals.
The ‘black sheep’ fact that will call rain on the parade of this film is that, despite being spectacular and all, the film itself is not memorable at all. This doesn’t mean that Andy Meitei’s efforts are not worthy enough. His idea of making this film is pioneering the art of experimental filmmaking in Manipur and many contemporaries are expected to follow. Nevertheless, the chronological assemblage of the film creates an illusion that the viewer is also participating in the daily life of the respective individuals, which is one of the few wonders visual arts can offer. However, the film fails to make an everlasting impression on the mind of the viewer as he/she is not disoriented in an entertaining way. The ‘wow’ factor is missing. Why do you think Samsara is stunning ?
Andy Meitei should continue his take on such ventures in the future. His film is a beautiful example to deviate us from conventional attributes and make us embrace the new, just like we embraced our new and colourful textbooks in high school when we got promoted to the next class. Is it relatable? Well, the art of filmmaking will be. Art enthusiasts in Manipur are all eager for advances like this. We are sort of lagging behind, comparatively. But the fact still remains; we cannot rush art. Ei is one of the small steps to bring about such a change.
(Ningombam Captain is the creator of the comprehensive review blog, Blue Bannerman Reviews. The writer is currently pursuing English Hons. in MS University, Vadodara. For reviews, Blue Bannerman can be contacted at the official facebook page and will cover critical analysis of songs, books, movies, and local eateries.)
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