Radio Drama In Manipur
- Part 2 -

Sagolsem Indrakumar *

 All India Radio AIR logo

(Translated by Aheibam Koireng Singh)

AIR ever since its existence and its radio drama has been of great help to the Indian stage drama either directly or indirectly. It is common knowledge that at about 1930 with the coming of talkie cinema, it tremendously hard-hit the various regional language theatre leading to its downfall.

In some places, so many previous theatre even seemed to vanish. At such juncture, AIR encouraged the stage drama and helped in revamping again. In recent years, the new techniques of radio drama were shadowed on the stage drama.

Many stage dramas were written in the form of radio drama. They started using richly flashback, flash forward, sound effect which are usually radio drama techniques. The limitation for time and place are also today eased out.

With the commissioning and broadcasting of programme by Akashvani Imphal on 15 April 1963, radio drama too started around it. But during those early days of broadcasting, it was not frequent.

Nongmaithem Sudhir Singh who was associated with the AIR, Imphal Station during 1963 to early part of 1974 worked wholeheartedly with sacrifice and dedication for the promotion and development of radio drama.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that it was because of the strong foundation laid by him that the succeeding officials of AIR Station Imphal were able to reach the present status that radio drama has.

In the said period of time, so many beautiful radio dramas were broadcasted and so many selected radio drama which were previously broadcasted in the national programme of plays were translated and broadcasted. Mention could be made of 'Charamnaraba Nung Mapei' (Hungry Heap of Stones), 'Samayanagi Makhada' (Underneath the Samiyana), and Dr. Faustus.

In and around the year 1969, AIR Imphal Station started airing serialised play on family centric themes. GC Tongbra's 'Taibangjamba gi Imung' (Taibangjamba's Family) was the first family serial play. The said serial was broadcasted about more than 100 episodes.

After that came in the form of comedy play, 'Epom'(tr., Wave). This actually is a realisation of Nongmaithem Sudhir's dreams through his own effort. Epom during those were so well famed and liked by people.

Actors in the Epom of those days were Takhellambam Chaoba, MayangImphal Tomba, and Oinam Babu. They left 'Shumang Lila'(Courtyard Play) and opted for Epom (tr., Wave). Later they became renowned figures as Epom artists.

In the early part of 1974, after Nongmaithem Sudhir's demise, as there was no one to shoulder the responsibility of radio drama, there was a period of uncertainty and vagueness. In 1977 February, Sagolsem Indrakumar assumed charge as the new drama producer. It can be said that from that time, a new phase had started in the history of radio drama of AIR Imphal Station.

From that time onwards, a fixed point chart and schedule was formulated and started airing only the new dramas.

Every Sunday morning at 12 o'clock, play of 50 minutes duration were broadcasted;
every Saturday at 7. 45 pm, family serial of 20 minutes duration were broadcasted;
on second Thursday of every month, play of 30 minutes duration at 9.30 pm;
and on fourth Saturday of every month at 9.30 pm a programme of plays on culture which was broadcasted from Delhi
and all other radio stations was translated to Manipuri in advance and broadcasted simultaneously at the same time and same date from the AIR station of Imphal.

Different and varied plays started airing. In the year 1977 itself, Maharaj kumari Binodini's 'Imagi Ningthem' (My Son, My Precious), and Dr. Kamal's novel, 'Madhabi' was adapted as radio drama and aired from the AIR station of Imphal. Afterwards, Imagi Ningthem was produced as film and bagged the prestigious Grand Prix award at the International film festival.

Radio Drama in India ever since its existence, it started giving either direct or indirect influence in the stage drama. In and around 1930, with the emergence of talkie cinema, stage drama at various places played in different regional languages got dilapidated to some extent.

At that point of time, AIR Stations played a great role by broadcasting radio dramas reaching out to the nook and corner of India in an effort towards revamping stage drama anew. AIR Imphal Station also started broadcasting Radio Drama from 1953 inspiring young writers to write.

So many writers were produced each year. So many people irrespective of men or women started involving heartily in the stage drama today. This can be attributed to the motivation and inspiration given by radio drama.

In addition to it, as an encouraging gesture to stage drama, from 1980 onwards every year on World Theatre Day which falls on 27 March, radio drama festival have been organised for ten days to coincide with the world theatre day.

During the festivals, stage plays which were successfully performed by the theatres in Manipur were adapted and performed as radio drama. As a motivation to young writers All India Competition for Radio Playwright was organised for every two years and first, second, and third prize winners were awarded handsomely.

Today, radio drama is not new in Manipur. Next to News, and film songs, radio drama has the highest number of listener audience. The radio drama of AIR Imphal Station can be said to be no less than the national standard. Every year, many dramas got Akashvani award at the national level.

Radio Dramas which bagged national award are:

1). 'Kathokpa' (Sacrifice), 1978;
2). 'Anuradhapur Ashramgi Rajkumar' (Rajkumar of Anuradhapur Ashram, 19870;
3). 'Lonthoktabagi Lol' (Language of the Mute), 1985;
4). 'Laidhi Lubak' (Doll Box), 1987; and
5). 'Nongfadok Lakpada' (Coming once in a while), 1990.

In addition Kathokpa and Nongfadok Lakpada has been translated to Hindi and various regional languages and broadcasted. Another Radio Drama, 'Marup Ani' (two friends) has been broadcasted as chain play serial. Radio Drama also contributed richly to the literature.

So many books which bagged Sahitya Academy awards Ningombam Ibobi Singh's 'Karnagi Mamma and Karnagi Aroiba Yahip' (Mother of Karna and Karna's Last Breadth); Arambam Samarendra's Leibaklei (The Flower of the Ground) were all have earlier played as radio drama. Imagi Ningthem, a film which have bagged national and international awards was also originally scripted as radio drama by Maharajkumari Binodini.

Today also, so Manipuri Manipuri films, 'Chatledo Eidi' (Gone with my heavy heart), 'Lallasi Pal' (Let's outstep the obstacle), 'Punsina Punsigidammak' (Life for life), 'Adungeigi Masanagum' (Bygone Effervescence), 'Laidhi Lubak' (Doll Box), were all new reincarnations of the Radio Drama which have all been broadcasted previously.

Radio dramas which have been published as book and became a valuable addition to the literary wealth were so numerous. It would be a difficult and onerous task to count them all.

Today, radio drama has gained global recognition as a new art form. Radio drama has found its place in the curriculum of many Indian universities and PhD degrees were also awarded in the area of study and subject matter of Radio drama. In a democratic country like India, the role of radio drama is of paramount importance.

Not only as an art form, Radio drama also acts as a carrier of voices and messages which are intended to reach out to the general public. In the year 1962, 1964 and 1972 when enemy invaded India, radio drama played a great role in providing strength and courage to the people.

In Manipur also, the role played by radio drama in easing communal tension and restoring normalcy, promoting mutual love and living together in harmony are to people's knowledge.


[Reproduced from the book, Aheibam Koireng Singh, Shukhdeba Sharma Hanjabam, Ksh Chitrabhanu Devi (eds.), Media in Manipur, Vol.I, published for Intellectual Forum of North East by Akansha Publishing House, N. Delhi, 2020, ISBN 978-81-8370-575-2]

* Sagolsem Indrakumar wrote this article , which was published at Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on December 07 2020.

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