TODAY -

A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES: at the "Akashvani Shumang Leela Festival 2012" and "Re:PLAY 2012 Internesenal Film Kumhei"

Debabrata Roy Laifungbam *

A Shumang Leela Play



I was most pleasantly surprised to receive two in vitations recently. The first, to the inauguration of a unique sumang leela festival organised by Akashvani Imphal (All India Radio Imphal), which commenced on 10th January 2012 at the Iboyaima Sumang Leela Sanglen. Being someone who is not closely related to the All India Radio, it was all the more heartening that the state owned media should invite me in recognition of my mother's long association with and contribution to AIR Imphal. We all grew up with sumang leela; it was part of our most happy facets of cultural life. AIR Imphal must be highly commended for making this festival a reality for us all, a part of the imperiled cultural life of contemporary Manipur. To me, the packed house and people standing demonstrated how alive sumang leela is today as a popular contemporary art, a forum for political and cultural comment; indeed, an assertive performing art, which could perhaps be always a moral mirror for us.

The nonagenarian distinguished singer and musicologist of Manipur, Laishram Birendra Kumar of Yaiskul shared a very exquisite historically and politically nugget of information with the packed to full house at the Iboyaima Sumang Leela Sanglen. Ever the scholar in our ancient tradition, he said in his brief address that women artistes and performers were among the pioneers of sumang leela or jatra in Manipur. Accompanied by loud applause, he said that he had come across published literature that documented the jatra performance of a troupe of women artistes from Manipur in Calcutta way back in 1826. This period, the venerated scholar said, was during the reign of Meidingu Chinglen Nongdrengkhongba, better known as Maharajah Gambhir Singh. Gambhir Singh was instrumental in liberating Manipur from a seven-year foreign occupation of Manipur by Burma in the early 19th century. This year, we memorialized the 178th death anniversary of Maharajah Gambhir Singh. I have my doubts whether the audience of those days in Calcutta could have made out the difference between women and transgender nupi-saabis of Manipur with their embellished effeminate mannerisms.

The other inauguration was to Re:PLAY 2012, the Internesenal Film Kumhei presented by the Manipur Film Development Corporation (MFDC) in association with Hun-tré! International Manipuri Projects. The inauguration at the not so full auditorium of the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy was a vast contrast to the sumang leela festival's the day before. The unquestionably more genteel and rather exclusive ambience of the film kumhei launch was underlined by the presence of the His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur, Gurbachan Jagat and film personalities from the USA and Indonesia. I was a little perplexed why this festival could not be presented in the brand new MFDC complex inaugurated recently by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

Film is not unfamiliar to Manipur. After its entry around the early 30s or even earlier, cinema quickly became popular. The early films makers included Sanayaima Maharaj Kumar Priyobrata Singh, the son of Maharajah Sir Churachand Singh Bahadur of Manipur. He recorded actual events such as the Hiyang Tannaba (Royal Boat Race) with his 8mm camera in 1936. The renowned artistes, Ima Thambalngoubi and Ima Tondon were perhaps the earliest women from Manipur to enter the celluloid world. Mainu Pemcha in which Ima Thambalngoubi played the lead role was produced in 1948. Later Kongbrailatpam Ibohal of X-Studio made many films including documentaries throughout the 60s. Manipur cinema never looked back after the releases of Karam Manimohan's Matamgi Manipur and S.N. Chand's Brojendrogee Luhongba in 1972. Most of the early films have never been seen by our contemporary audience, and a select few more from the archives that would fit into the theme of the internesenal film kumhei could have been included to enrich the local to international reach of the festival.

The inaugural offerings of the sumang leela festival and internesenal film kumhei deserve some attention for their contemporaneity and statement on the current globalized societies we live in. Andibachtiar Yusuf's Romeo* Juliet (2009), premiered in India at the festival, comes from the Indonesian urban sub-culture setting of Jakarta and Bandung cities, which are basically co-cities merging into one another, forming a megalopolis. The youth of Jakarta-Bandung megalopolis portrayed as consumed by a vicious and violent football clubs rivalry provides the backdrop and context of a classic Romeo and Juliet romance for Yusuf's fast-paced film. Violence and the human condition as a complex social association that has no end, no purpose and therefore, totally futile is underlined by the poignant and enduring purity of romantic love between two individuals. For the local viewers, steeped in the sporting tradition of Manipur, it was an unusual introduction of what can be possible too in the world of sport.

On the other hand, the popular sumang leela Sanagee Ching (Mountain of Gold) from Sanaleibak Nachom Artistes' Association is a melodramatic take-off from recent real violent events in Manipur. Again, a romantic liaison across antagonistically juxtaposed ethnic sub-cultures in Manipur portrays the tragicomic world of a contemporary and violently corrupt society that has resulted in the mutual parasitization of institutions and communities alike. Set in the violent conflict and corruption ridden scenario of government rural employment guarantee schemes, Sanaleibak Nachom Artistes' Association's Sanagee Ching is also a sophisticated tongue in cheek allegory of our sana leibak (Golden Land) Manipur. Classic interposition of the comic and serious, the hallmark of jatra, had the expectant audience alternately in tenterhooks and laughter. Unlike the protagonists of Yusuf's Romeo* Juliet, who could not avert the pre-ordained tragic denouement, who could not actualize the impossible, the protagonists of Sanagee Ching manage, to the relief of the audience, the impossible. Yusuf's cinema realite is in sharp contrast as an art to the "augmented reality" art of the jatra.

The individual life and the community life co-exist at different planes of imagination and expression. Both are inevitably reflected in art, and the obverse also is a reality. While the modern world and society paces on breathlessly, our psyche perpetually yearns for the slower, heavier emotions of the ancient. Football or the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, ancient emotions play out a different world of ideas. In the end, both jatra and cinema inject into the individual and community psyche, a world of possibilities.


Debabrata Roy Laifungbam is Director of Health Development and Human Rights at the Centre for Organization, Research and Education (CORE), Manipur, India. He coordinates various cross-sectoral research projects on public health, environment, human rights and gender and has participated in several international meetings to advocate ethnic minority rights.

This article was posted on January 27, 2012.



* 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 e-pao.net. 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.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Aftermath of Imphal Flooding #2 : Gallery
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Meitei Professors' Invention Patent [Upd]
  • World Plastic Surgery Day 2024
  • A new front of 'power politics' in Nagaland
  • 2nd Meghalaya Pineapple Fest at Delhi
  • Super 20 batch for UPSC 2025 announced
  • Why is PM not meeting Manipur leaders ?
  • Justice to displaced people
  • Imphal Art College Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Scholarship for Johnstone Hr Sec given
  • Will #PutPeopleFirst drive HIV response?
  • Open Letter to Amit Shah, Home Minister
  • The Power of Poppy - 39 :: Poem
  • World Population Day 2024
  • Beating of the Retreat #3 : Gallery
  • Liar's lair :: Poem
  • The Richest Man in Imphal
  • Gamcha, the Assamese Scarf
  • Meghalaya Govt launches OTT platform
  • Comprehensive Coverage in NE Telecom
  • Battered and tattered roads
  • Let there be transparency
  • Kanglei Thokpa @ Sagol Kangjei : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #3: Gallery
  • Historic Premiere: 'Chilli Chicken' at Manipur
  • Effective Unified Command for Resolution
  • Music & Quiz: Drug Abuse amongst youth
  • Visionless and headless DMU
  • When is the right time & situation for PM visit
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #37: Download
  • Inspirations from Scientists of Manipur: Book
  • Manipur crisis: Treat the disease, not symptom
  • 133rd Durand Cup Trophies Flags Off
  • NEET droppers vs freshers
  • Death : Only future to look at ?
  • Mental health of displaced people
  • Aftermath of Imphal Flooding #1 : Gallery
  • When was the last time we smiled ?
  • Appeal to Stop Unbearable Monetary Demand
  • 'Oppenheimer' links with Supreme Science
  • 'Preventing from holding a press conference'
  • Travel tips during Monsoon
  • Look at it via ground reality
  • Making the 'Balak Buddhi' wiser
  • Kang Chingba @Govindajee #1 : Gallery
  • Release Ebo Mili & Stop large dams in ArP
  • Rainforests are the lungs of Earth
  • Education suffering from political interference
  • Inflated bill main vote plank, law dont cut graft
  • From the Lok Sabha to Manipur
  • Third visit of Rahul
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #9
  • International Day of Yoga #1 : Gallery
  • Lord Jagannatha's processional chariot fest
  • World Zoonoses Day 2024
  • PM 'bola' in Parliament
  • Acknowledging the stand of UNC
  • Embracing tree plantation as a new trend
  • 17th N Tombi Equestrian C'ships #2 : Gallery
  • The spirit & the creed of the Olympics
  • Kang Chingba (Rath Yatra) : Book
  • 'Economic blockade: Rumors baseless'
  • The Power of Poppy - 38 :: Poem
  • Balancing children's academic performance
  • Imphal flooded (again) [Jul 3] #2 : Gallery
  • Covid, Ngari, Yu and Loktak
  • Rural people struggling with network problem
  • English certificate courses for BA student
  • 6th July is International Day of Cooperatives
  • Clogging the waterways with plastics
  • Diverting public attention from core issues
  • Manipur Kanba Khongchat #2 : Gallery
  • Gateway of Assam
  • Integrating GIS & EWS for flood management
  • The Dopamine overdose
  • Free workshop on civil service exams
  • Bucket of cold water after a hot shower
  • Breaking the silence
  • Imphal flooded (again) [Jul 3] #1 : Gallery
  • Embracing 'Sharra - Kashar-ot'
  • Drug abuse & illicit trafficking in Manipur
  • Nudity being served to increase followers
  • Record high temperature
  • Bangladesh FM Hasan Mahmud's Riyadh visit
  • Indigenous call for NRC
  • Come home to the electorates
  • Meiteis must unite for survival
  • Flood advisories issued
  • State & District Control Rooms
  • Green Hydrogen for a clean environment
  • Need for an Emergency
  • Monsoons beauty
  • Calling out the indifference of Delhi
  • Questioning the silence with a roar
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #8
  • Problem & prospect of floriculture in Manipur
  • WomenLeaders India Fellowship 2024-25
  • Naga Peace Talks and Narasimha Rao
  • Arunachal Minister visits Oil Palm @Godavari
  • Clear cut stand from the Nagas
  • Crisis resolution in 100-day plan ?
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur: A battleground of imperial geopolitics
  • Wangkhem Suresh @ Higher Defence Course
  • Shoppers Stop's 1st Store in Dimapur
  • Stop razing rail station, divert 25k Cr to Signal
  • Has Imphal completely lost the plot ?
  • Time to take responsibility
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #3 : Gallery
  • July Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Letter to Prime Minister of India
  • International Day of Parliamentarism
  • Skill Development Course at Lumshnong
  • The Power of Poppy - 37 :: Poem
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Manipur Kanba Khongchat #1 : Gallery
  • Multiple Openings @ JCRE Solutions
  • Our mass addiction to predicting future
  • Bonsai - A play with another aspect : Review
  • Timely diagnosis to stop misuse of medicines
  • Impactful tool- Instagram marketing strategy
  • Essence of the June 28 rally
  • Birds of the same feather
  • Scientist of Manipur: Satyendra Thoudam
  • Education and the fate of Manipur
  • Centre not mind talking to Kitovi or Alezo
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Nambol
  • Why Bangladesh urge military diplomacy
  • MoU : Assam Don Bosco Univ with Cambridge
  • Understanding beyond the coup
  • Donning the role of LoP
  • Rally @ Jiribam [June 26] : Gallery
  • Umananda Island- World smallest river island
  • Breaking the impasse
  • Fantasies of a sinister childhood
  • Program: developing women entrepreneurship
  • Microlearning is impacting talent acquisition
  • Looking for the way forward
  • The message
  • Moirangthem Robi - Mr Universe India 2022
  • Parthenium Menace in Indo-Myanmar : Book
  • Respect & recognise domestic worker
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hiyanglam
  • One test not for India
  • Include tomatoes in your skincare routine
  • Raising ST call a notch or two higher
  • United in grief, but...
  • Panthoibi Phijol Hongba @Mandalay : Gallery
  • Open Letter to Hon'ble CM of Manipur
  • Slavery in the machine world
  • 'Either Rio regime delivers or it fails'
  • No need for NEET or NET
  • Walkathon to promote health at Guwahati
  • Paradox of arming & disarming citizens
  • Meaningless statements
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #7
  • You are king of web, then slave
  • A Groundbreaking HIV Prevention Option
  • Board of Studies at Assam Don Bosco
  • Public Services as a career choice
  • Manipur violence and state
  • Last minute cancellation
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #36: Download
  • Saraighat Bridge - An Expedition
  • Meeting with MP Dr Bimol Akoijam
  • Manipur: 11 medal (5 gold) @ Natl Taekwondo
  • Socialization and the Two "Meads"
  • The Power of Poppy - 36 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: Raghumani Ningthoujam
  • Chilli Chicken Delivers a Flavorful Punch
  • International Day of Yoga 2024
  • Antimicrobial Resistance: Top 10 health threat
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Taste vs Health
  • Fiasco of UGC-NET, NEET 2024
  • From NEET to NET: It's time to fix NTA
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Ema Panthoibi Phijol Hongba at Mandalay
  • Proposed Palm Plantation behind Jiri violence?
  • 'Why Impose War on Us'
  • Why workers most affected by scorching heat?
  • Coup of 2021 not the only push factor
  • Last chance not to fall from grace
  • Ibudhou Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Kind attention 'Your Lordship' CJ of India
  • 'Opposition-less Govt in Nagaland is rhetoric'
  • Xorai - Assam's cultural symbol
  • Natural ways to lighten dark underarms
  • Is Delhi doing the right thing ?
  • Set the priorities right
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #3 : Gallery
  • Modi's arduous journey & fate of Naga peace
  • Autism: Why fit in, when you can stand out?
  • Bloodstained Masquerade :: Poem
  • Dharamvir Singh: Forgotten hero of TV
  • What is keeping the clash going on ?
  • Warning of a coming politico-military storm
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #6
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Timeline
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Gallery
  • Are we on track to end AIDS by 2030 ?
  • 3 writers from Manipur for Sahitya Akademi
  • Manipur's traffic, parking: A big nuisance
  • Career in elderly care
  • Keeping the folks under a state of confusion
  • Nothing neat about NEET
  • Aid to relief camps @ Jiribam : Gallery
  • Gastronomy tourism in Manipur : Gallery
  • Eid-ul-Adha: Embracing sacrifice
  • Bike Rally - Sekmai to Kangla : Gallery
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #2 : Gallery
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #2 : Gallery
  • Scientist of Manipur: Laishram Shanta
  • Bimol Akoijam (Cong) wins Inner PC : Gallery
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #2: Gallery
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #3 : Gallery
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #1 : Gallery
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #2 : Gallery
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #1 : Gallery
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD