SN Chand : The father of Manipuri cinema
- Part 2 -

Meghachandra Kongbam *

 A scene from  Brojendragi Luhongba
A scene from Brojendragi Luhongba :: Pix - TSE

Meanwhile, Karam Monomohan, an exhibitor who owned his theatre house at Moreh and also a timber merchant running the business in Indo-Mynmar border and a jungle contractor dealt in dalchini and spices produced his Manipuri feature film- Matamgi Manipur engaging Debkumar Bose, son of noted filmmaker Devaki Bose from Calcutta as director, shooting the whole film at Movietone Studio in Calcutta with a few shots in Imphal in a short period and released the film in three cinema houses namely Usha Cinema, Friends Talkies in Imphal and Azad Talkies in Kakching on April 9, 1972, which was marked as the birth of the Manipuri cinema.

With his tireless efforts, SN Chand completed his film- Brojendragi Luhongba during the calendar year 1972 and the Censor Board passed his film on December 30, 1972. If the film was made in a studio, it could have been completed early and marked as the first Manipuri film. But SN Chand didn't like the studio made film. He strongly believed in the realistic approach of the New Indian Cinema movement while making his first film.

SN Chand scheduled the release of the film on Friday, January 26, 1973. And it was released simultaneously at Usha Cinema, Friends Talkies in Imphal and Thoubal Cinema at Thoubal. The then Chief Minister of Manipur Md Alimuddin was the chief guest for the release of the film at Usha Cinema.

During the premiere show, SN Chand submitted, "It is not a successful business if we treat filmmaking in Manipur as a business. However, being a devotee of art and artistic skills, and with a thought that the rich Manipuri culture would shine in the world through this medium, I have taken the whole responsibility of making this film sacrificing all I possess."

With few shots in Calcutta showing the protagonist as an MBBS student, the film was set at the backdrop of unique historical places, enchanting landscape of plain and hill areas, beautiful tribal dance and typical traditional performing arts- Pena (A traditional stringed instrument used in the narration of the Epic of Khamba Thoibi legend) and Bashok of Manipur. It was a true Manipuri film made by the first son of the soil.

Based on the short story with the same title of Dr Kamal's work, which appeared in a monthly journal 'Lalita Manjuri Patrika' in 1933, the 122- minute feature film depicts among other things the religious and cultural life of people dwelling in the hills and plains of Manipur.

The thematic concept of this social story seeks to establish that honesty of purpose shall be maintained in every sphere of life to achieve success and honour in life. The film also revolves around a conflict between modernism and traditional values and reveals that traditional values are worthy of one's identity. Brojendra (SN Chand) returns home with a medical degree from Calcutta Medical College.

When he reaches home, he learns that his marriage has already been scheduled. It was a bolt from the blue to a young man with a modern outlook like Brojendra. He thinks that marriage should not be treated so lightly, at least he shall see eye to eye before they are wedded.

So, he argues with his mother (Ibemhal). His mother replies that she got married to his father as arranged by her parents. Brojendra's maternal uncle (Oinam Birmangol) also tries to convince him to fulfil the decision of the elders.

Brojendra dislikes the idea. Being an obedient boy of his parents and of good nature, he obeys. But he decides not to even look at the face of his would-be wife (Romola). He does not spend the wedding night in the bride's room. He gets a Government job with a posting at Churachandpur, a hill station and leaves home before Mangani Chakkouba (Marriage feast on the fifth day after marriage). Days pass by, the agony of the innocent girl increases day by day.

Later on, Brojendra realizes his fault after experiencing a few incidents. In the meantime, his boss calls him at Imphal for some important assignment. He reaches home but cannot enter his house. He takes a turn and visits a Bashok, a Manipuri Nata music concert in a nearby Mandap.

The singer is performing the Birha song of Radha "Vrindaban-gi amuba thadu amuk thoklamkhini" (The black moon of Vrindaban would have appeared).

This Sringara Rasa has submitted to Brojendra's heart. When he glances towards the audience, he catches sight of a very beautiful woman. She is so lovely that Brojendra is fully attracted to her. His conscience pricks him as he rejects his innocent wife. He makes up his mind to go straight to his wife and apologize for his mistake.

But to his great surprise, he finds at his home the very beautiful woman whom he sees at the Mandap. He stands speechless. At this moment, his wife falls at his feet sobbing and beseeching his love. Brojendra takes her in his arm and embraces her with love.

Anil Gupta was the Cinematographer and Rasbehari Sinha was the Editor of the film. Songs were recorded at Technicians Studio, Calcutta. In the film, renowned Bengali playback singer Aarti Mukherjee who later shot to fame sang a Manipuri song- Nil Khonglaba Nonggi Mapei Mapei (Noisy Thunder of Black Clouds) in semi-classical style.

SN Chand's multifaceted talents flowered in his production. The film bagged the Best Screenplay Award in the First Manipur State Film Festival, 1984 organised by the Government of Manipur. But the film missed the National Award of the 20th Edition of National Film Festival 1972 because the film scored the same marks as Debkumar Bose's Matamgi Manipur (Present Day Manipur).

The President's Silver Medal for the Best Feature Film in Manipuri was given to Matamgi Manipur being the first-ever Manipuri Feature Film. This was revealed by eminent writer and critic Elangbam Nilakanta who was associated with the jury as an invitee.

However, Elangbam Nilakanta praised the film- Brojendragi Luhongba for its reflection of the vivid identity of Manipur, capturing the beautiful ways of lives of the people at the real spots. It was not a studio-made film.

MK Binodini, an eminent writer who was also on the Jury as an invitee, opted out from the Jury for being associated with Matamgi Manipur as a lyricist. The Regional Jury, Calcutta was headed by Sombhu Mitra.

If we study SN Chand's Brojendragi Luhongba, it may not be an exaggeration to say that the film emerged as a product of the New Indian Cinema wave, which was prevalent from the latter part of the 1960s to the 1980s. SN Chand himself was an active member of the Film Society of Manipur.

The film was a complete departure from the mainstream cinema and made with a realistic approach dissecting the then trends of Manipuri society which was about to be blown away by an alien culture. It was a wake-up call for the masses for identification and realization of one's ethos.

It was during the emergence of the new Indian Cinema, many regional films from different parts of the country also found a new premise with striking glory and achievement. Under the initiatives taken up by the Government of India, such landmark films were produced.

The period heralded a shift from mainstream cinema to a new direction where films were based on social issues with a realistic approach. The films generated a new wave of thinking and discussions amongst the masses.

To be continued...

* Meghachandra Kongbam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on May 27 2022 .

* 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.

  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #1 : Gallery
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • India's responsibility to end Manipur violence
  • Migrant worker could access TB services only
  • Importance of reading magazines as student
  • SHG pioneering agricultural innovation
  • Nearing the one year mark
  • The enemy within
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • Workshop @ NSU Manipur : Gallery
  • 15th Manipur State Film Awards 2023
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Panthoibi Shanglen
  • GSDP doubles, health shines
  • Vote has been cast, repoll held
  • Two faces of democracy
  • Laurels for Scientist Ngangkham Nimai
  • Crime against women in Manipur
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Sugnu
  • Creativity & innovation for vibrant career
  • 4th Foundation Day of YMC
  • Racing towards one year mark
  • Prophetic words, indeed
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #14 :: Book
  • 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