Art practitioners of Manipur should always strive to showcase the vast facets of indigenous art and culture of Manipur in their respective art forms; if it fails to highlight the unique history and rich heritage of the state, then the art form is irrelevant to the people, said Doyen of Manipuri cinema Aribam Syam Sharma on Sunday in Imphal.
The renowned Manipuri filmmaker was speaking at ‘Mami Numit’ (Cinema Day) observance and Film Archiving and Preservation seminar held in connection with 3rd Foundation of SN Chand Cine Archive and Museum held at Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS).
‘Mami Numit’ marks the release of the first Manipuri feature film ‘Matam gi Manipur’ on April 9, 1972 implying the birth of Manipuri cinema.
The observation was jointly organised by the Manipur State Film Development Society and Film Forum Manipur.
Syam Sharma exhorted the new generation of artistes and film enthusiasts in the state to be authentic in their approach to art. Not staying true to yourself, your roots and your land will ultimately lead to poor artistic outcome, he added.
“Human values are embedded in art and culture; outsiders will not be able to comprehend the sentimental depth of what you feel as a native of Manipur, and that is our strongest asset in artistic expression,” he said.
He stressed on the importance of creativity in the realm of art, especially film making and stated that creativity is the window to the unique emotional dynamics and experiences of every human being.
“Creativity is how we show our culture, identity and how we assert ourselves on the global artistic platform. Our unique culture and the creativity which stems from it, is how we are noticed in the world,” he added.
On the journey of Manipuri cinema, Syam Sharma stated that the new generation filmmakers in Manipur should strive to go deeper and tell stories that are true to Manipur.
He maintained that the long race, which is the journey of Manipuri cinema, had just started and that it was up to the younger generation to carry the mantle of Manipuri cinema forward.
“Our generation had sincerely put in every blood and sweat to make the art form relevant in the state while also maintaining a high standard. The baton has now been passed and it is up to young filmmakers to continue this monumental legacy,” he said.
He emphasised the need for filmmakers to put the state’s unique cultural stamp on every project. He also expressed gratitude to pioneers of Manipuri cinema for their contributions in making the cinematic genre take root in Manipur.
“We still remember your sacrifices,” he said.
Art and Culture commissioner M Joy Singh informed that 1972 was a remarkable year for Manipur not only in films but also other aspects. The state achieved its statehood and establishment of Regional Medical Council (RMC) among other accomplishments during 1972, he added.
He mentioned that during the stretch from 1972 to 1997, Manipur altogether produced 28 films, of which 9 were showered with various awards.
“The first generation of Manipuri filmmakers, writers include GC Tongbra, SN Chand, Syam Sharma among others. Filmmakers from the second generation, which started around mid-90s include Chand Heishnam, Oken Amakcham and many more,” he noted.
The commissioner maintained that filmmaking and the techniques involved drastically changed to digital format during the 3rd generation of Manipuri film. The advent of new technology and techniques has critically changed the incomprehensible art of filmmaking, he added.
M Joy highlighted that the state had produced 39 national award winning films in its long run of 51 years.
He exhorted filmmakers to focus more on quality rather than quantity and appealed to make use of the new digital platforms to assert their products and also generate revenue.
Meanwhile, during the keynote address, MSFDS secretary Sunzu Bachaspatimayum highlighted the various film related activities MSFDS had completed in connection with the Golden Jubilee celebration of Manipuri recently.
He informed that MSFDS is currently working with a digitization and restoration lab in Italy to digitize and restore the film ‘Eshanou’ by Aribam Syam Sharma as part of its initiative to conserve old Manipuri cinema. The digitization of ‘Brojendro gi Luhongba’ by SN Chand has been completed although restoration work is yet to be undertaken, he added.
During the seminar, three papers focusing on different aspects of the Manipuri films were presented. The papers are ‘Towards Saving the Film Heritage of Manipur’ by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur of Film heritage Foundation, Mumbai; ‘National Film Heritage Mission with special reference to Manipuri Cinema’ by National Film Archive of India, Pune and ‘SN Chand Cine Archive and Museum: A Case Study’ by film archivist Rajkumar Johnson.
The attendees also paid floral tributes to the Manipuri Cinema Memorial Pillar erected at MSFDS.
President of Film Forum Manipur Laimayum Surjakanta along with other renowned film personalities of Manipuri took part in the event.