Amid turbulent times besetting Manipur, two critical filmmakers from the state – Mayanglangbam Romi Meitei and Saikhom Ratan – on Tuesday bagged awards at the 69th edition of National Film Awards, New Delhi.
Besides the two, acclaimed filmmaker Borun Thokcom, also from the state, was a proud spectator at the glittering awards ceremony as he was among a few film personalities of the nation who were jury members of non-feature film category.
President Draupadi Murmu conferred the awards to the outstanding filmmakers and cast and crews at the ceremony attended by a constellation of great Indian movie stars and promoters.
This year, the ‘Dada Saheb Phalke Award’ (lifetime achievement award), the highest film honour of the country, went to yesteryear’s shinning Bollywood beauty, Waheeda Rehman.
President Murmu, praised Waheeda and said she represents a woman of substance and a shining symbol of an empowered woman.
Romi received the award for his iconic feature film ‘Eikhoigi Yum’ (Our house), while Ratan went home with the award for his flick ‘Beyond Blast’.
Romi was honoured with the best Manipuri feature film category, while Ratan bagged the best biographical non-feature film award.
Before making a debut with parallel cinema with ‘Eikhoigi Yum’, Romi was a successful mainstream commercial filmmaker as he made over 100 such movies most of which were box office hits.
Minutes after bagging his first ever National film award Romi said that Tuesday’s event was great and memorial, but the current crisis gripping the state has dampened his celebratory moods.
“I’m very happy with the recognition given to ‘Eikhoigi Yum’ which is my first non-commercial project. As much as I wished, I am unable to enjoy the moment considering the conflict going on in Manipur,” Romi quipped.
“I must thank Manipur State Film Development Society (MFSDS) for the inspiration it has provided me with the yearlong events it organised to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Manipuri Cinema (1972-2022). In fact, ‘Eikhoigi Yum’ had the privilege of opening one of the highlights of the celebration, the first ‘Eikhoigi Imphal International Film Festival’ (EIIFF),” he said.
Ratan said Tuesday’s awards ceremony “is the pinnacle of my filmmaking journey which started in 1992. I am overwhelmed by this honour. But sadly, the situation back home prevents me to indulge.”
Jury member Borun, who is himself a national awardee filmmaker, officiated as jury member for the national honours for the first time said, “We had to view more than 200 short and documentary films in multi-languages. However, at the end of the day, beauty has no language barriers and language of cinema presided, and films made with passion and with the right intent stood out as always. I feel happy that Manipuri filmmakers did well in both the categories, feature and non-feature.”