Interview with Junichi Kajioka
- Director, Writer, Producer and lead Actor of 'Imphal 1944' -

Nganthoi Lourembam *

Junichi Kajioka in Imphal in last week of June 2014
Junichi Kajioka in Imphal in last week of June 2014 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

After the successful release of 'Imphal 1944,' the debutant director, writer, producer and the lead actor of the film, Junichi Kazioka says he would like to make more films about Manipur. The 44 years old Japanese who had obtained an Economic degree from Keizai University in Japan has started his acting career at the age of 18. recently took an interview with the all rounder director.

Excerpt of the interview:

E-Pao: In how many films you have acted?
Junichi Kajioka: There are so many films I have acted so I don't really remember how many of them. I have started my acting career since the age of 18. I have acted in more than fifty films approximately.

E-Pao: What's your aim in coming to Imphal and the reason for making the film 'Imphal 1944?'
Junichi Kajioka: I have come to Imphal to show my first directorial film 'Imphal 1944' which aims to give a message of reconciliation and peace. The film is also dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Battle of Imphal. I started to have connection with Manipur through the project called 'My Japanese Niece' in which I was supposed play the lead actor. But for some reasons the film got postponed for two years. So I decided to make my own film dedicated to the Battle of Imphal and that's how I became a debutant director without having any education of film direction.

E-Pao: How did you come to know about the project 'my Japanese niece?' Did they contact you first?
Junichi Kajioka: I saw an article about 'my Japanese niece' which says Indian director from Manipur is going to make a film about the Battle of Imphal. I didn't know about the Battle of Imphal and I thought it's going to be an interesting subject so I contacted the director and the director as well wanted me to act in his film. We almost started shooting but for some reasons it got delayed. It takes time to make a film and one requires to have dedication and determination with certain budget. I don't know for what reason the film is delayed but I decided to make my own film and release it on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal.

Junichi Kajioka in Imphal in last week of June 2014
Junichi Kajioka in Imphal in last week of June 2014 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

E-Pao: Did you finance the film 'Imphal 1944' or got any support from others?
Junichi Kajioka: I am the writer, director, producer and main actor of the film. I even made sandwiches for the crew during the last day of filming at a park in London which is a flashback scene based in Manipur. I haven't got enough time to get some supporters toward financial help so I produced the film using my money from bank. The only thing in my mind was to complete the film by 28th June.

E-Pao: Is there any plan of making a feature film out of 'Imphal 1944?'
Junichi Kajioka: There are certain plans of reediting the film, making it more defined and send it for film festivals. The film will be screening in both Japan and Uk. It's going to take at least one year for the film to be sent for selection in film festivals throughout the countries and in all the states of India so that all the Indian people come to know about this historical event.

E-Pao: There is not a single scene shot in Manipur in the film. Why?
Junichi Kajioka: Because of budget. All the scenes were shot in London where I live. There is a peace message of three nations shown through flowers in the film; cherry blossoms from Japan, Lilies from Manipur and Roses from UK. The message of the film is that the three nations had war at Imphal and now after 70 years they will be united. The theme song is especially made for Imphal where as the lyrics is dedicated to the Battle of Imphal with the ending note of raising a question about belongingness.

Junichi Kajioka in Imphal in last week of June 2014
Junichi Kajioka in Imphal in last week of June 2014 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

E-Pao: The 2nd World war gave a huge impact on the people of the state. What message do you want to give to the people who are facing the losses?
Junichi Kajioka: We, not the war generation but the post war generation should never experience war. We remember this event and pass this information to the younger generation. We need to tell about the Battle to those who have not heard about it and that's why the film is entitled 'Imphal 1944.'After watching the film people will google and search for Imphal and the Battle of Imphal.

E-Pao: In Manipur there is a draconian act called AFSPA for which Irom Chanu Sharmila has been fasting for many years. What do you think about this act?
Junichi Kajioka: I have no idea about this AFSPA. But I have heard about Sharmila. I don't belong to any political figure I am just a film maker. Manipur has basic potential to send out messages and that's why I would like to make more films about Manipur.

E-Pao: How do you feel about the place, Manipur?
Junichi Kajioka: The people here are very hospitable. I like the food called Phola (sweet food made of banana, milk and dried rice) and Hawaizar (made of soya been). Hawaizar is similar to a food of Japanese called Natto. I had also gone to Kangla yesterday and there is a kingdom started in 33 AD and I believe there is a connection between Manipur and Japan in the past. So I would like to make a film about this connection.

E-Pao: When are you leaving Imphal?
Junichi Kajioka: I am leaving Imphal on 03rd July and will stay at Delhi for five days. I am planning to organise some screenings over there if I get the facilities and supports.

See a profile Photo gallery of Junichi Kajioka here

*** A side note: Parts of the interview was taken in Japanese language by Nganthoi Lourembam and translated later

* Nganthoi Lourembam conducted this interview in the last week of June 2014
The interviewer can be contacted at lchanu28(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on July 2, 2014

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