A talk with the 'film whisperer' , Meghachandra Kongbam

Mayanglambam Merina Leimarenbi *

 Meghachandra Kongbam
Meghachandra Kongbam

Brief sketch :

o Bagged the 'Best Critic Award' of the 63rd National Film Awards carries a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) trophy and a purse of Rs.75,000.

o An alumnus of Banaras Hindu University, Kongbam is the Director in the public relations department of the Manipur government and a regular contributor to mass circulation vernacular publications in his state.

o Experience of covering film events, including the International Film Festival of India (IFF).

o A founder member and president for two terms of Cine Artistes and Technicians Association which was established in 1998.

o Board director of the Manipur Film Development Corporation from 2002 to 2004.

o Best film critic, Manipur Cinema 1997.

o Best film journalist award, by Film Forum Manipur in 2010

o Member of International Federation of Film Critics.

What is your guidelines for the upcoming journalist who would like to try their hands on this film appreciation course be?

First and foremost One has to know the real meaning of professionalism. After I completed my journalism and while working under the custodian of Ratan Thiyam while working with him in some of the drama's like "Nongmagi Ngada" etc. Ratan Thiyam who is madly in love with theatres, that time many of the seniors said it is not that easy to sustain a living by doing theatres and art. But he proved them wrong and flourished in his own work by being a hard-core professional in his work.

I really got motivated by him and his dedication towards his work got really imprinted in my head. I started my work in DIPR at 1981 .I got posted in hills and outside Manipur, during such period I never got demotivated but rather devoted myself to concentrate on my writings. 1978 in a film named, ' Brojendragi Luhongba' its critic title. In journalism course we studied- film, Radio and Doordarshan, press and media while studying we were taught how to make film documentary scripts, how to shot? Which was somewhat near to film journalism. My exposure to tours with my other journalist friends like Md. Salim . There at Mohan Studio in Mumbai they have halls which is as big as a community hall, 4-5 of them had different sets inside one place . We had Click 3 camera with us.

1982 while coming back to Manipur we had Film Appreciation course which was at our Museum, such 12 days course which was jointly organised by Film Development Council , Film Society of Manipur and National Film Archive of India . We got a chance to have many well-known artists coming for this course who were mainly from Literary and theatre background. Why Appreciation course is because one comes to know about Film History and the revolution of Film in this world. What is meant by Good Film etc., How to appreciate a film etc.

What things do one need to apply for getting one's own film in Film Festival?

Applying for award one needs to send at least 5-6 films, I got a chance to organized a seminar for 'Knaga Hinghouni', 'Meiri' where they use to make the movie on one side and I use to write about it on the other side.I had an opportunity to participate in International Film Festival thrice. I Manipur we use to make lots of documentary films but feature films were not been able to produce at that time because most of the films were in video format and not feature films.To be frank we were not able to make celluloid film during those days . So from 2010 we started sending our films and in 2011 our 'Phijigi Mani' bagged ( National Film Award in Best Supporting actress and Best Feature Film, directed by Oinam Gautam Singh.

Does anyone need to have an idea about cinematography before shooting a film?

Yes, one really needs to have a strong professional background in films first.In Earlier days we need to study about films for whooe three years. To be a Director he/ she needs to have two solid years and have full experience in film direction and screen- play. Cinematography has three years in-depth course. It is somewhat similar with Editor. One could easily explain why Manipur film came down- the reason being lack of in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge one lacks. Most of the Manipuri artistes, directors and technicians have not undergone any formal training; many of them will bring laurels if there is adequate exposure to films and formal training.

Would you like to give any suggestion for those who wants to write about films?

One doesn't need to be a journalist to become a writer for such things. It would be great to go for a 'film appreciation course' at Television institute of India.We have two quotas specially for our state in a yearly basis.First month would give a taste on what is a Film all about, with an add up knowledge soley based on its basic history about films. Materials for reference would be given. Taking advantage of current era one could get access to many beautiful movies on internet like classic movies etc. One could also read those beautiful reviews written by some of the famous journalists.

What according to you is a good and knowledgeable movie?

A Scientific film which gives all about the earth and the environment which we live in, film having strong moral and aesthetic values could be a part of it.3D has become a part of most of our movies, could you tell us by when we could expect 3D in our movies?

Such new trend should come, but it would take a longer time. Most of our artists are working for outside companies. Plus one also lacks the technology to a certain extent. Due to the conception of 3D one now finds is really easy to depict dream series, thoughts process, feelings, moods etc. Right now our youths are just focussing on a smaller local market but it would be advisable if they could try to aim a bit higher and reach out to others who need to taste our films. The main cause of failing of our movie theatres is nothing but having bad films. If the film is bad, there would be no viewers.

What is progressive cinematography according to you?

A Film should also carry good education meant for the masses. This should also become a means to give awareness to public,it should carry good moral values for the youngsters. Love stories will bring a very different mind-set in our young generations. One should try to make films on patriotism, moral values and family values etc. which will surely trigger each one of us to start doing good things.

Showing too much of violence at times gives a negative impact on young minds. Film is indeed a powerful medium to educate our people.

Why do people make abstract movies at times?

Such abstract movies are being made to show its unique quality of the director. Plus Film critics are there to write about such films in a simpler language for the public. After reviewing their article the entire story of abstract movies become much cleaner and clear. The major role of a film critics will play in such movies.

The jury of the National Film Awards was impressed by the perspicuity of Kongbam's film writings. "Meghachandra Kongbam interprets the world of Indian cinema for his readers in Manipuri. His lucid understanding and love for cinema made him the ideal 'Film Whisperer' in Manipur.

* Mayanglambam Merina Leimarenbi wrote this article for
The writer is Correspondent at Eastern Chronicle, Manipurand can be contacted at merina(DOT)mayanglambam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 01, 2017.

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