‘Pedalling Town’: A ride through Kakching’s cycling culture

The film 'Pedalling Town' attempts to take the audience for a peddling ride to explore the vibrant 'cycling culture' which is part and parcel of Kakching's identity; the cycle is the protagonist of the film.

ByRK Tayalsana

Updated 9 Jul 2024, 3:00 am

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The rain gods finally tightened the noose on the drizzle and blessed Imphal residents with a sunny Saturday evening after continuous onslaught of sparse intensive rain, which led to inundation of various localities within and around the capital town.

The day also had in-store, the premiere of the independent short documentary film 'Pedalling Town' by debutant filmmaker Monish Yengkhom and Ronel Soubam at Library and Information Centre, Kakching in Manipur.

The road to Kakching via the 'Mayai Lambi' (Wabagai-Imphal Road) is a back breaking ride and a must try for those who dare to live "on the edge" while awing on the mesmerizing scenery along the interstate highway.

However, the Thoubal-Imphal Road along National Highway 102 is a much more advisable alternative for those with back or hip problems.

Getting back to the movie, the weather took a turn for the worse in Kakching as a relentless rainstorm bombarded various parts of the district. This added to the thrill and the mission was on for movie buffs who were yearning for some dose of independent cinema to reach the venue safely.

The recurring flash floods in Imphal is slowly subsiding but the drizzly onslaught is yet to call quits. Heavy rainfall is still reported in isolated pockets of the state.

Review of 'Peddling Town'

The movie is the brainchild of debutant filmmakers Monish Yengkhom and Ronald Soubam; produced by Thoithoi O' Cottage and presented by MUI Films in association with Cinema Improvisers. The film is around 20 minutes (19 minutes 28 seconds to be exact).

The documentary film takes place in a town called Kakching, situated around 43.4 Km south of the Imphal; Kakching is a bustling agrarian town known for its public cleanliness.

The film attempts to take the audience for a peddling ride to explore the vibrant 'cycling culture' which is part and parcel of Kakching's identity; the cycle is the protagonist of the film.

The film carefully experiments to weave 'cycling culture' as an intangible thread of Kakching's social fabric. Simply said, cycle is equated to as the common denominator, which every people in Kakching — belonging to different occupational, educational, social and more importantly demographical background - shared. The film also faintly highlights the environmental benefits of using cycles for everyday commutes. 

The whole narrative basically epitomizes 'cycling' as an intrinsic part of Kakching's contemporary social and cultural milieu.

From the start, the film dabbles to establish the growth of cycle culture in Kakching, which is the second most popular form of transportation after walking. It also narrates the story using people from different demographic range. 

The film explores narratives of how the cycle is perceived by people in different age groups making it synonymous to a baton (an elixir of knowledge) passed down to the next generation of Kakching youths. 

The differences in generational perception of the world and reality is vaguely visible in this exploration. For the old, it is a saviour but for the young it represents hopes, dreams and much more.


Students, teachers, farmers, a mountain biking athlete, a former MLA and other prominent elders from Kakching share their tales of what a 'cycle' means to them.

The film also draws attention to the decline of cycling over the years due to the advent of automobiles in forms of personal vehicles and public transport. However, it manages to maintain hope and determination that the culture would live on unabated despite unknown hurdles.

Beautiful mesmerizing shots of Kakching lush-green paddy fields are carefully stacked together to accustom the audience with the diverse landscape of Kakching, which is a foothill town. Several shots are beautifully framed while the warm notes of the film presents the viewing experience in a way which is authentically 'Manipuri'.

Usage of wide aerial shots to mid shots of subjects are beautifully connected with the trademark background score from Chaoba Thiyam.

A general critique:

The story has potential but it falls short on treatment and research. The stylistic approach of the narrative to carry the message lacks the power to deliver the fatal blow.

Every aspect of the film is told by the characters which are too many. In this aspect, it almost pushes borderline documentation rather than a documentary.

No space is provided for the audience to breathe and interpret the subtext. No interpretation is needed; everything is spoon fed to the audience. 

The film fails to understand the depth of the subject and simply highlights it as 'Something which the people do' rather than diving deep into the themes of 'Why it is so significant to the people of Kakching'.

After the first few minutes of the film everything becomes repetitive - the narration, the characters, the editing, sound is encapsulated in a loop; there are no significant variations or progression throughout the film.

There were instances where the camera movement was so robotic that it threw the audience off. 

The film tries to fit too much on one plate by completely negating areas which could have been the focus points to create a riveting film narrative - the environmental impact of cycling culture in Kakching and how it has changed the landscape of Kakching over the decades, the exploration of an interesting character to tell the story could have been another route, for instance the mountain biking athlete Goaller Moirangthem, who is a national level athlete in the discipline, could have served a more interesting role to the entire film. 

The extent of how the cycling culture in Kakching has changed is heard from the perspective of a cycle shopkeeper and repairman but the extent of how much it has changed and doors which this "change" has ushered is never truly appreciated in the film.

The film projects certain problems which cycle commuters in Kakching faced, such as limitations of parking space and increased volume of traffic but failed to follow through on the impact of such actions on the culture.

It also fails to tap into more contemporary issues which would be beneficial to keep alive the culture or issues which could lead to the death of it.

And lastly, the isolation of the entire narrative from the rest of the state, the country and world is problematic for a film, which is regarded as the most powerful mass medium. There are no subtitles and for an outsider peeping into the film and understanding its nuances would be a mammoth task. 


The film attempts to peddle a dichotomy between Kakching and other regions in the state while completely throwing the advent of the same issues and problems in Kakching under the bus.

Manipur has its fair share of remarkable documentary filmmakers such as Borun Thokchom, Haobam Paban, James Khangembam, Meena Longjam, Sonia Nepram, Bobo Khuraijam and many more.

The documentary film pedigree in Manipur is one of the strongest on global platforms. As such, familiarising with the filmmaking methods and blueprints of these giants to a unique narrative style which is intrinsically unique to oneself is a must. There can be no compromise on treatment and research about a subject matter no matter how big or small, the film budget.

At the end of the day, 'Pedalling Town' fails to establish any emotional connection with non-Kakching residents or trigger any curiosity as to why cycling culture is so unique to Kakching. Nonetheless, it is an attempt to add to the simmering pot of storytelling in Manipur and should be appreciated nonetheless.

Film crew

Camera, Editor and Director: Monish Yengkhom and Ronald Soubam

Producer: Thoithoi O' Cottage

Music: Chaoba Thiyam

Executive Producer: Mayanglambam Romesh

Sound Design: Arjun Ksh and Monish Yengkhom

Aerial Cinematographers: Gagan Usham and Chinglemba Mayanglambam

Production Manager: Ksh Reagan, Malem Pukhrambam and Anil Kr






First published:


kakchingcycling culturePedalling Townmanipuri documentary films

RK Tayalsana

RK Tayalsana



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