Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Thakat Dik Kolling ore


By Henryy Sinha, New Delhi

Well intentioned hard work often leads us, the Bishnupriya Manipuris, to an astonishing ramification. Indifference. Solemn indifference.

As a community we have an etched legacy of being naturally indifferent to good work, hard work or achievements. We seem to have installed chronic allergy into our DNA when it comes to establishing a kinship with encouragement, appreciation or gratitude. Prominently or perhaps only so if it concerns a fellow Bishnupriya Manipuri. What potent elements compel us to be a composite of this sort will have to be left for extensive research. 

At times self guilt leads to accept someone's achievement or good work, among the articulate few. This acceptance arises out of fear. Fear to be recognized as the indifferent ones. Fear to be recognized as someone who breeds jealously and insecurity. Therefore the acceptance. This acceptance is fatal. This acceptance now results a strategy, which propels a back handed compliment. Now this back handed compliment is extremely loyal to his Master. He is just like his Master. Ridiculous. Appreciation is now laced with a shrewd coat of sarcasm. When this appreciation or back handed compliment is unleashed by the 'Master of the Universe' a new orphan is added to the Bishnupriya Manipuri community. This orphan is stripped off his judgment. Yes, stripped. Quandary about the ramification of his good doing sets in. He feels appreciated but feels more condemned. All his future intentions have been skillfully nipped in the bud. The Master now sleeps in peace. Applause! 

Some months back a chance meeting triggered this conversation with a fellow sapien. The conversation initially took off from the elections in the USA and then via Mahindra Singh Dhoni in India flew back home to Santosh Mohan Deb in Silchar. From there it was a walking distance to this topic. Read on. 

Hai baha amar aktai film ahaan nikalasi bultara. Nanghanou pahurlu. Kita thang..Koreek….….Koreen, kolin..na Kolling. Hai KOLLING. Finally!!!

I can bet this man knew the name of the film pretty well. It’s not as if every Friday a new Bishnupriya Manipuri film is released! He was faking his memory lapse. Reason? Well he thinks, had he prompted the name of the film at one go, he would have established the existence of the significance of the film. But by displaying the struggle to recollect the name of the film he was trying to establish the insignificance of the film and whoever who had taken this effort. In a nutshell he trivializes the effort. Shrewdly ridicules it. It’s nothing but the same old chronic jealousy. For God’s sake why are we sunk deep in profound jealousy especially when it comes to our own? Why are we misers when it comes to appreciating a fellow Bishnupriya Manipuri. Always. This wretched jealously blinds us from the fact that a pat on the back of another Bishnupriya Manipuri is a pat on the entire community, therefore a pat on one’s own back too. This envy has been and still IS detrimental to the community’s progress. High time we gauged it. Gagged it with our intellect and our will to progress the community.

Another school of thought laments, gujei, kita baro mora agolo film haan okortarata. Ehaante okoranigoi juut naase. They say, as this is the first Bishnupriya Manipuri film, the first scene with a corpse is a bad omen! Obai! What shit!

Firstly, Kolling is not the first Bishnupriya Manipuri film. The first one was made way back in the 1980s in Tripura by the great Beliraja, Late Bimal Sinha.

Second, are we seeing such a thing in a film for the first ever time? Why are our thoughts traveling back to the Stone Age in these days of satellite channels? 

I seriously fail to understand why the moment it comes to something Bishnupriya Manipuri, we always see the glass as half empty? Why hunt faults with chronic consistency and sadistic pleasure when there is a vast landscape of NEED for appreciation and encouragement. 

I am not saying Kolling is a cinematic masterpiece. It is not. It’s not even close to it. 

However we have no right to strip off the credit that it deserves. Here’s why.

DILS Lakhindra Sinha, mama, as I call him, has come up with a realistic concept and a storyline which is very much a social issue if not a burning issue in the Bishnupriya Manipuri community. It is a story of a poor man who is harassed, tricked, blackmailed by a Bamun (Brahmin) after the death of his father. The film has been made with an intention to highlight a social problem that persists and will persist unless necessary initiatives are drawn. Therefore Kolling is an extraordinary film in its own right. It is a landmark initiative. 

Besides, Kolling has its own reasons to that we can cheer, if not celebrate. One can witness some credible performance at play, especially by the older lot. The mother of the poor man, the Brahmin, the village head who were simply brilliant in their portrayal of characters. I was amazed at the flair and the ease of the actors. Commendable. 
Let us remember this was done by a team, most of whom were facing the camera for the first ever time! 

Next comes the art direction which was pretty realistic and intelligent. The backdrop of the film was a typical Bishnupriya Manipuri village and to give the credit where it’s due, it did come on screen like one. It looked like a typical Bishnupriya Manipuri village. The film has a strong current of poverty that exists in our society and that has been aptly translated on the screen. 

What impressed me the most is the realistic portrayal of the characters, especially the ‘villains’.
Here it’s not the usual good or bad characters shown as plain white or black. The characters have a range of colors. Black, white and also grey. The bad guy here isn’t the usual loud mouth, tough looking cookie but your very own revered Eiga who ruthlessly and systematically blackmails you with tears in his eyes, talking to you like a protective father, with constant reference to the Almighty. He weeps, but he threatens. He threatens, but he pats your back. Astonishing. Simply astonishing. This shows how well the director has briefed his actors and also displays his zeal for realism. 

Yes. I do agree the ‘item number’ was ridiculous, so was the heroine who confused us with her diction. I could not comprehend whether she was speaking in Assamese or in Bishnupriya Manipuri. Also why take a 40 year old to act like a 25 year old and romance a 20 year old girl? Logistics, economics or manpower might be the answers.

Also just as I liked Lakhindra Sinha the writer, I did not like Lakhindra Sinha the actor. Specially his dramatic tone of dialogue delivery throughout the film. One doesn’t speak like that in real life. Maybe it had to do with his encounter with the medium for the first ever time. 

But overall, Kolling is a significant injection into the Bishnupriya Manipuri consciousness, cultural and social. It has given many of us a deeper understanding of the sufferings that our poor and innocent Bishnupriya Manipuri families go through in the revered hands of our own ‘Demons of Gods’. Brahmins. 

We as a community must collectively thank Mr. Lakhindra Sinha for writing this film and Chandrakanta Girok for his heroic attempt to bring the story alive on the silver screen. Kolling is therefore a reason to be celebrated. If not, at least a reason to be encouraged. 

Giri githani, khani thakat dik.

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