After nearly 50 years of its release, Brojendragee Luhongba, a film by first Manipuri director SN Chand finally received international recognition at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Porvorim, Goa on Friday, November 25.
Twenty-one-year-old Sapam Rajiv, grandson of the first Manipuri film director, late SN Chand, travelled to Goa to present his grandfather’s film ‘Brojendragee Luhongba’ at the IFFI-53, a release stated.
SN Chand’s Brojendragee Luhongba was released in 1973, and left unattended for several years. Finally, the film was restored and digitised, and screened at INOX, Porvorim for the international as well as national delegates of the IFFI-53 on Friday, the release added.
According to the release, when Rajiv was still a kid, he would often pull out the prints of the film from the corroded canister containing the reels and wonder what his grandfather’s film was like.
His constant thirst to watch the film was partially quenched when the restored and digitised ‘Brojendragee Luhongba’ was screened for public viewing on April 29, 2021 during the yearlong Golden Jubilee Celebration of Manipuri Cinema that kicked off in April 2020. The last known public screening of the film was in 1986, 15 years before Rajiv was born.
According to Rajiv, getting to watch the film for the first time in 2021 was what inspired him to trace the footprints of his late grandfather and properly document his contributions for Manipuri Cinema.
“I feel privileged to present my grandfather SN Chand’s film ‘Brojendragee Luhongba’ on his behalf. Who would have thought I’d be watching the film. I often wonder how it was like as a child, on the big silver screen. This moment is of great joy and importance for me and inspired me to take up film preservation and filmmaking,” Rajiv said.
The release stated that had the preservation of Manipur’s film heritage and archiving works been a little more delayed, even the first Manipuri feature film directed by a Manipuri could have been confined to its historical status only with the younger generations having hardly any access to the film.
Fortunately, through the preservation efforts of the Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS) under its SN Chand Cine Archives and Museum dedicated to the father of Manipuri Cinema with assistance of the Film Heritage Foundation, Mumbai, ‘Brojendragee Luhongba’ finally racked up international recognition at the 53rd IFFI.
Prior to the screening of ‘Brojendragee Luhongba’, Manipuri non-feature film ‘The Silent Poet' directed by Borun Thokchom was screened.
Rajiv, The Silent Poet director Borun Thokchom and several others were felicitated ahead of the screenings, the release added.