Star Kamei : Artist / director : Interview and Profile

Nganthoi Lourembam *

 Star Kamei : Artist / director
Star Kamei : Artist / director

Name: Star Kamei
Profession: Artist cum director
Father's Name: Late Kamei Poupangai Kabui
Mother's Name: Late Shomari Kamei-pui
Address: Keishamthong Kabui, Imphal West, Manipur
Date of Birth: 02/10/1950
Educational Qualification: Graduate
Religion: Christian

Amongst the most prominent figures of Manipur theatre artistes and directors, Star Kamei is one of the rare figures of Kabui tribe who has created a big mark of contribution in the field of theatre and arts. Not only in the field of theatre but in the Manipuri film industry, Kamei has been a major contributor. Kamei's works have been remarkably palpable for its contribution to the development of Manipur's theatre and film industry.

65 years old Star Kamei born to a Kabui family in Keishamthong graduated from D.M. college in the year of 1976. According to Kamei, 'theatre cannot be neglected and it symbolises the cultural identity.'

Kamei has shared his valuable knowledge about the relationship amongst theatre film and Zeliangrong tribals, also his journey from being a director to an artist has being phenomenal. Here is an exclusive interview with Kamei and

E-pao: How did you begin the journey in the world of theatre and film industry?
Kamei: Since my childhood I always had an interest in films and theatre. It must be the presence of the dramatic theatre hall, MDU (Manipur Dramatic Union) in my locality which influenced me to act in plays at my young age. In my locality there are many old theatre artistes of Zeliangrong tribe who inspired me to step into theatre and film industry.

During my young age I took part in a film audition where I was asked to act the role of Thonglen in Khamba Thoibi. However the result of the audition was never revealed and the film was never shot.

The local clubs organised plays every year to raise funds for the locality which influenced me to join theatre.

E-pao: Please share a brief account about Kabui tribe and it's relation with theatre?
Kamei: The first ever play performed on April 03, 1926 by Zeliangrong group is 'Mangcharengpu' which is also known as 'Kabui Keioiba' in Manipuri. Not only for the Zeliangrong tribe but 'Mangcharengpu' was the first ever drama performed among the tribals of Manipur.

After the establishment of the KDU in 1950 many Kabui traditional dances and songs were showcased by KDU. It won't be too much to say that there is a major contribution for KDU in signifying the beauty of Kabui dance throughout the world. In the early 1950s the most famous drama played by KDU was 'Rahpui Lamdam.'

In the early 60s, Lairenjao Remmei a theatre lover established 'the Zeliangrong Naga art and cultural organisation.' Under the playwright and direction of Lairenjao many dramas were performed; amongst them are Papi Uheng, Houme nangkummei Lugan, etc.

E-pao: What's the role of Phuling cultural organisation?
Kamei: Phuling cultural organisation was established to bring a revolution in the field of theatre and arts for the Zeliangrong tribe. Phuling cultural organises plays on stage and also in the form of Shumang Leela. I had also played the role of a female character.

The organisation was set up on July 15, 1972 by a group of individuals who love drama and arts. We had no money to deposit for the registration of the organisation and so we had rented our wrist watches to a shop. We started performing theatre plays but due to lack of fund to hire theatre halls we performed Shumang Leela as well. The organisation was aligned to various local clubs and that's how we used to perform plays in various places in the early 70s. We used to get Rs. 50 for showcasing a play. We decided to perform not only in Imphal area and in the year of 1977 we performed our plays in various places in Nagaland and Assam inhabited by Zeliangrong tribes.

Phuling cultural organisation also organised competitions; 'all Zeliangrong short play competition and theatre seminar' at GM hall and MDU and the team which gets selected was sent to Allahabad for the National competition. However, we couldn't devote all the time to theatre due to our personal lives and Phuling cultural organisation remained shut for some years.

E-pao: What all plays have you been performed so far?
Kamei: A comic play entitled 'Kashok Pong' was performed in Dimapur, Silchar, Haplong, etc. The play became very popular and it was shown for 25 times wherein the 25th time it was played in MDU hall organised by Zeliangrong student's organisation as a part of raising funds. The play also won the Allahabad Natya Sangh President Awards in the 14th All India Multilingual Short Play Competition. On the following year another short play called 'Delhi Challo' won the Allahabad Natya Sangh President Award in the 15th All India Multilingual Short Play Competition. We had performed various plays in numerous times but I took a break for almost 20 years after 1987 since I was posted in the hill districts for my government job.

 Star Repertory's play in Kabui language - 'Black Orchid' at MDU, Imphal :: 19th December 2015
Star Repertory's play in Kabui language - 'Black Orchid' at MDU, Imphal in December 2015 :: Pix - Som Sorokhaiba

E-pao: Was Phuling Cultural organisation based only for theatre not for films?
Kamei: Phuling cultural organisation always wanted make films but it was little difficult to find a producer who could initiate the film making due to low marketing value. In the year of 1992, we found a producer from Nagaland who was a divisional forest officer who agreed to sponsor for producing the film, 'Kapuning.' The film took time to get released due to unavailability of the artistes and got released in the year of 1994. The premier show was taken place in GM hall in 1995. And Kapuning was the first video film in Kabui language which was directed by me.

E-pao: In what all films you have acted?
Kamei: 'Sambal Wangmada' was my first film, then 'Kapuning,' 'Keishamthong Thoibi,' 'Yaishkul gi Pakhang Angaoba,' 'Rah-lu' and 'Panti Changlwan,' respectively. Sambal Wangmada got selected for national panorama. In 'Sambal Wangmada,' I played the role of a character called Abung from Tamenglong.

E-pao: Which theatre play was mostly liked?
Kamei: In 1987, 'Haipou Jadonang death anniversary committee' asked us to perform a theatre play during the death anniversary at GM hall and that's when the play entitled 'Haipou Jadonang' was performed by Phuling cultural organisation, which remained the most successful and highly appreciated plays of all the time. The play was all about all the hard works of Rani Gaidinliu's brother Haipou Jadonang, the patriot who sacrificed his life in the battle. In which I played the character of a British umpire and I was a co-director of the play alongside Amuba Kamei.

E-pao: Any ongoing projects?
Kamei: Tribal Research Institute (TRI), government of Manipur approved my proposal to film a documentary film on Zeliangrong tribes titled "Yellings of Zeliangrong". The film is to show about Kabui song, dances, it's cultures, it's yells when to use, to research by asking the olderly people. Herp lady is a one of the new movies which is in production. Charui Poung, name of an orchid flower and Ningammakge are about to be completed wherein I am an artist.

I also wrote a book entitled 'Kabui Rongmei costumes attires and musical instrument' in order to correct the misunderstanding between Kabui cultures. The book along with the film 'Yellings of Zeliangrong' were funded by TRI.

The herp lady was initiated to start filming on 2nd Oct, and hoping to be premiered in the month of November or maybe during a festival. The herp lady is a translation of Black orchid by Budha Chingtham.

E-pao: Did your plays participate in any competitions or festivals?
Kamei: We took part in 'state level play competition' organised by theatre centre of Manipur. And also took part in a tour program across Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. A play called 'Ningpan kathan' which means 'new life' was showcased in the '13th All Manipur short play competition, 1982' organised by theatre centre which was held in MDU hall. I took part as an artist and as a co director. On the 14th competition as well a play entitled 'Deludiba' was performed in MDU hall. In the national level, the group which succeeds in the short play competition was sent to the 16th, 17th and 18th All India Multilingual Short Play Competition at Allahabad.

On 23rd Feb, 2014, NSD invited us to perform our play in the National festival of tribal dance and music theatre. I took part as an artist, translator and as a director of the play.

In the month of Dec, 2014 after premiering the play 'Medical surrender' in MDU hall, it was also performed in Kolkata as invited by the NSD. The play was the best original script award winning play written by Budha Chingtham which was later translated by me in Kabui language and then performed in Kolkata. I choose scripts which will be appropriate in any society and can spread messages across the state or any other places without any language barrier.

E-pao: Any difficulties faced during the tenure of theatre and film industry?
Kamei: After a long pause in the work of theatre the present deputy chief minister, Gaikhangam invited us to perform in the '3rd Khundongbam Brojendro theatre festival 2014.' It was very difficult for us to gather artistes after a long year of gap but we somehow managed to perform the play entitled 'Hingminnabagi Mahut Siminnaba' written by Khundongbam brojendro after translating it into Kabui language, on Jan 24, 2014 at Chandrakiti auditorium hall. The festival was sponsored by Khundrongbam Brojendro conference trust in collaboration with department of arts and culture government of Manipur.

We decided to build a new organisation called 'Loungdaimai art and culture academy'. Due to some issues the organisation's name was later reinstated to Star repertory.

E-pao: Any interesting experience in 'film making' you want to share to us?
Kamei: During the shoot of 'Kapuning' film of a song sequence in Bishenpur Thongjaolog, when the actresses were inside the water for the shot, suddenly the flow of the water increased rapidly which would have killed everyone. But we survived due to God's grace. While shooting the film, 'Panty Changlwan,' in the hill district on Ziri road, we nearly escaped death from landslide. There are every sort of difficulties in both film and theatre be it time management.

E-pao: Are there many theatrical artistes of Zeliangrong?
Kamei: I have noticed that Zeliangrong group doesn't have much of theatre artistes but mostly film lovers. I believe theatre and film are related to each other except for few different features. I would like them to know at least some basic knowledge about the two. Since I was born in a poor family and me being the only son raised by a widowed mother I couldn't get what I wanted; I wanted to study in National School of Drama, Film and Television Institutes of India Pune, etc but I couldn't. In the interest of the people from next time Star repertory resorted to produce film from early next year and continue theatre in the month of September and participate in national festivals.

E-pao: Do you think the present youth are interested in theatre?
Kamei: The youth prefers film more than theatre. I am planning on something to interest the youth to participate in theatre through the help of NSD. Once the youth knows the similarity between theatre and film I am sure many youths will join theatre.

E-pao: What changes you want to bring in theatre and arts of the state?
Kamei: There can be many changes which can be brought in theatre developments. I have approached to the officials of Tribal development and the concerned Ministers to organise residential workshops about theatre for a complete year or two. May be due to lack of fund there isn't a positive respond. Theatre plays an important role in denoting our cultural identity. Theatre is something which can't be neglected.

E-pao: Do you think Manipur stands strong in theatre comparing to other states?
Kamei: In terms of theatre and art Manipur doesn't lack behind. I don't have an opportunity to compare Manipur's theatre work with other state but in the 80's Manipur has received 'best director,' 'best producer,' 'best script' and 'best artistes' awards. Oja Kanhailal and Ratan's plays are not only famous in the state but they are known throughout internationally.

E-pao: What was the most interesting play you have performed?
Kamei: There are many interesting plays amongst them there was one play which was performed 25 times called Kashokpong. There is a one play written by Brojendro called 'Hingminnabagi Mahutta Simminnasi' which was translated into Kabui language and was played in Chandrakiti hall which is bigger than MDU hall and was fully crowded. It was an amazing experience to show that play in just one act without changing the background screen, music and light. We received very good response from the audience.

E-pao: Any advice to the youth of arts lover?
Kamei: The best policy to excel in life is to stay healthy. To become a good play artist is to have healthy life with good moral, no drugs and disciplined. I was very fat earlier I worked out and reduced ten kilos.

See a Full gallery of Star Kamei's Play "Black Orchid" here

* Nganthoi Lourembam conducted this interview for
This article was posted on April 27, 2016.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #14 :: Book
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • 174th Anniv Maharaj Narasingh #1 : Gallery
  • Ensuring Fair Voting in Hills of Manipur
  • Dr Irengbam Mohendra's latest book :: Rvw
  • NDA has the advantage in both
  • Lok Sabha polls in Manipur #1 : Gallery
  • L Rup's Robot 'Kangleinganbi' in Manipuri
  • Art- means of connecting hearts in Manipur
  • Is it Living Alive or Living Death ? :: Poem
  • Rabies - A preventable zoonotic disease
  • April 19, 2024: The blackest day of all
  • Ugly turns on voting day
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • The chasm between TB & HIV continues
  • Parliament and its Members
  • Kimchi for health and glowing skin
  • LS election with a difference
  • To vote, or not to vote ?
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Lamjao, Kakching
  • The Power of Poppy - 27 :: Poem
  • Mother Language based education essential
  • Modi's warriors wear regional hats
  • Nest Asia promoting Northeastern Cuisine
  • Now look beyond LS poll
  • The rot in the system
  • Scientists of Manipur : Laitonjam Warjeet
  • Community seed bank @Umathel : Gallery
  • 10 candidates cracked Civil Services Exam
  • Milk of Paradise: History of Opium : Rvw
  • How plastics find their way into our bodies
  • Condemning attack on Trucks along NH-37
  • Cong looking to buck the trend
  • Saving Manipur
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #2
  • Election Duty :: Travellog
  • 1st Nagas' Meet in Punjab
  • How to select right MP to represent Manipur
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Tejpur
  • Bats are Keystone species for the Planet
  • The '15 days' conundrum
  • Free but not so fair
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #30: Download
  • Before You Vote : My Rumbling Thoughts
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Kakching
  • Meiraba wins All India Sr tournament
  • Finding light in dark through my daughter
  • Navigating life's unreasonable expectations
  • Test of people's character
  • BJP's election manifesto
  • Athoubasingi Numit #1 : Gallery
  • Black rice & Glycemic Index
  • What Nadda should speak at Dimapur rally
  • Open Letter to CM Office Manipur
  • Meghalaya unveils Strawberry festival
  • Benefits of maths newspapers for students
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Hatta #1 : Gallery
  • Are you a good person ?
  • Physics Academy of NE : Executive Body
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Moirang
  • Cherrapunji Eastern Craft Gin launched
  • Cong on cautious path
  • Botox for Hair
  • Posers voters should raise now
  • The lull before the storm
  • 80th Anniv- Battle of Kanglatongbi @UK
  • Vir Chakra Ngangom Joydutta's bust unveiled
  • Hun - Thadou Cultural Festival : Gallery
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Singjamei
  • Election Eclipses: Ballad of Battle & Loss
  • Our voices are equal at the ballot box
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • Urgent Call for Solidarity in Manipur
  • Meitei Nongsha #2 :: An Artwork
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Waikhong
  • About NPF-BJP-NPP alliance & why ?
  • World Veterinary Day, 2024
  • The heavy stake behind the LS polls
  • The politics of lying & deception
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #1 : Gallery
  • Hun-Thadou Cultural Fest @ Delhi: Report
  • Appeal to Parties & Candidates
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Wangoo
  • Establishment of community seed bank
  • Awareness Programme on new Criminal Laws
  • Make a right choice at the Lok Sabha election
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #1
  • RIST talk-58 : Support systems of elderly
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hiyanglam
  • Vote, do not boycott !
  • Lok Sabha election: A new dawn in politics ?
  • IIT-Guwahati Half Marathon report
  • Taking ST demand to the election ring
  • Lesson to be learnt from across border
  • Mirabai: Poised for Paris Olympics
  • Legal position for protection of environment
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Keisamthong
  • Heterocyclic compound & biochemical science
  • Inner, torn between two lovers
  • Certification Music Therapy Workshop
  • NOTA as a choice
  • Caesar's wife must be above suspicion
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #29: Download
  • World Health Day 2024
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Pangantabi
  • The Power of Poppy - 26 :: Poem
  • Fulbright Fellowship Outreach at Arunachal
  • Id-ul Fitr da namaz nattana..
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #13 :: Book
  • Lok Sabha election is coming, be prepared
  • 6th Hun-Thadou Cultural Festival
  • Let There Be Free & Fair Election
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Lamlong
  • Science magazines are important for student
  • Interesting choice of candidates
  • The power of We, the voters
  • Inspirations from Scientists of Manipur #1
  • The Case for Amendment of Article 371-C
  • Meitei Nongsha #1 :: Artwork
  • Link between forest & conflict in Manipur
  • Final Call for Application MFA - Phase-2
  • ST for Meiteis call before elections
  • Passing the buck
  • Beating of the Retreat #1 : Gallery
  • Life of our Lives in Ethnic Strife Era! :: Poem
  • IIT-Guwahati annual Half Marathon
  • Follow up: European Parliament on Manipur
  • Yoga & Kegel exercise: Pelvic floor workout
  • Opting for the NOTA button
  • Yearning of the displaced people
  • Kenedy Khuman (Singer) : Gallery
  • 5th NE Women's Peace Congregation
  • World Autism Awareness Day 2024
  • Election fever grips Manipur despite unrest
  • Looking for a decent election hustings
  • Clock ticking towards voting day
  • An exemplary directive
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Memo to Election Commission of India
  • Easter & Holi echo in Nilgiris
  • Holiday Camp for children at JNMDA, Imphal
  • Zero waste is our moral responsibility
  • Elections & loyalty vis-a-vis Manipur crisis
  • Show of strength without unity
  • Yaoshang Pichakari #2 : Gallery
  • Panthoi Chanu : 1st to play in Australia
  • Intensive labs in film preservation
  • Building bridges with books
  • Need of the hour: Political maturity
  • Accepting defeat before the election
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #28: Download
  • April Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Natural packaging from bamboo : Gallery
  • The Power of Poppy - 25 :: Poem
  • Everyone has their own Bharat Ratna
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #12 :: Book
  • Demand- Manipuri as classical language
  • The Drummer from Odisha
  • Beauty benefits of lemon
  • Yaoshang Mei Thaba #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur's original Ponies : Gallery
  • Yaoshang & Dance of Democracy loom
  • Symposium on Jagadguru Shankaracharya
  • Choosing ITI as a campus after X
  • Yaoshang Pichakari #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang @Nabadwip Dham : Gallery
  • How oral health affects your pregnancy
  • Two faces of Holi
  • Prawaas 4.0, Multimodal Transport Show
  • A decade of development of higher education
  • Yaoshang Mei Thaba #1 : Gallery
  • Our Eternal Kangleipak :: Poem
  • Micro-livestock for livelihoods: For NE States
  • The fun of Holi used to be monotonous
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • About the "Meitei" community from Manipur
  • Unveiling the medicinal benefits of honey
  • The incalculable value of wildlife
  • Promises of true love
  • Trends, Alliances, & Challenges in Elections
  • Meitei Goddess Ngaleima : An Artwork
  • Water is the most precious gift of God
  • Bharat needs a strong 'India'
  • Transformation of railway stations
  • Not quite the final countdown
  • Missing of 'The Saffron' from electoral colour
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #27: Download
  • 3rd North East Games: Manipur champion
  • The Power of Poppy - 24 :: Poem
  • EBTC & JCRE signed MoU
  • Early Detection Program at Toubul
  • How Holi affects our mood & mental health
  • Lamta Thangja @ Imphal : Gallery
  • Manipur cinema legacy shines at ARCUREA
  • The pulse of politics amidst conflict
  • Forest is most important vital organ of Earth
  • Tips to play safe Holi
  • Politics of naming candidates
  • Disappearing of spring from season cycle
  • Meira Paibis of Manipur
  • Demand for ST status by Meiteis
  • Project Personal Opening @Assam University
  • World Poetry Day at Manipur University
  • Green skills for sustainable world
  • Supportive interventions during exam time
  • Interesting run up to LS polls
  • Onus definitely on PM to restore peace
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #11 :: Book
  • Water, water everywhere ...
  • 21st March - A special day for Forest
  • RI imprisonment to Rapists at Silchar
  • Arrests threaten fragile ceasefire
  • The Valor Within :: Poem
  • Monitoring the rehab centres
  • True colour of politicians
  • North East Film Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Linthoingambi- 'Jury Honourable Mention'
  • Meitei Goddess Phouoibi : An Artwork #3
  • Formation of Wesean Student Federation
  • 20th March- International Day of Happiness
  • A call to first time voter youths
  • Playing the card close to its chest
  • Targeting FOCS and ITLF
  • Students @ Class X Exam : Gallery
  • Saroi Khangba @ Kangla : Gallery
  • Special scholarship scheme for girls
  • Imphal Book Fair 2023 #3 : Gallery
  • Protest for scrapping SoO #2 :Gallery
  • Maharaj Narasingh Statue @Kangla :Gallery
  • Shopping List for Shivaratri : Gallery
  • N Tombi Equestrian C'ships #1 : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #1: Gallery
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Save Manipur : Protest [Feb 15] #3 : Gallery
  • Naorem Roshibina- Wushu Medallist : Gallery
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD