In a remarkable feat, Meena Longjam’s Manipuri Film ‘Andro Dreams’, a cinematic chronicle of 63 minutes, opened the Non-Feature Film Section of the Indian Panorama at the ongoing 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa.
The documentary is led by a trinity of a female director, producer and cast. The documentary is the story of 60-year-old Laibi Phanjoubam, an old woman with a spirited soul, and her three-decade old, an all girls’ football club Andro Mahila Mandal Association Football Club (AMMA-FC). It captures their challenges and struggles with Nirmala, their most promising young football player in the spotlight.
Her trail-blazing tale in a small newspaper article is what caught Meena’s eye, which today has been brought to the silver screen as ‘Andro Dreams’. ‘It is a story of our people, who are unheard and not represented in other media,’ said National Award winning Director, Meena Longjam. She said Andro Dreams captures the real life of Laibi Phanjoubam and the girls of her football club fighting against all odds, the entrenched patriarchy, economic hardships and orthodoxy of her ancient village.
Meena elaborated that Laibi is the fourth girl child in her family who was often disregarded by her family. However, despite the odds, she became the first woman in her village to complete a matriculation degree and became a primary school teacher. She has established handloom and weaving craft shops in her village, Andro, nestled in the northeast state of Manipur.
She added that her ‘accidental’ directorial ventures are an endeavour to show the lives of people of Manipur who remain obscured in the main media. Meena is a legend-in-the-making, as she became the first Manipuri woman to win a National Award for her other film, ‘Auto Driver’ earlier.
Laibi Phanjoubam, the protagonist of the film, also expressed her happiness at making this documentary. The movie presents her reality and struggles, which she has been honored to present to the world.
Talking on the genre of documentary film-making, Meena elaborated that, making a documentary requires building a relationship with the subject over a long period of time and it cannot be a one-off project. Executive producer of Andro Dreams, Jani Viswanath said, “Women are ‘silent pillars’ of society and I want to bring as many to the forefront as possible and provide them the required opportunities. I want to encourage, motivate and support the incredible talent that has skills but lacks the funding.”
Indian Panorama section at IFFI, which offers an excellent cinematic experience for the film-lovers, opened on Tuesday with Malayalam film ‘Aattam’ in the Feature section and Manipuri film ‘Andro Dreams’ in the Non-Feature section. This year, 25 Feature Films and 20 Non-Feature films will be showcased at the 54th IFFI which will be held till November 28, 2023.