Four striking students’ documentary films were screened at Seminar hall at the Department of Mass Communication, Manipur University under the banner “Many Voices Many Worlds” as a part of their course on 18th Aug, 2022. The films were made by the students of 4th Semester Department of Mass Communication, Manipur University comprising four to five students in each production team under the guidance of renowned film maker Johnson Rajkumar, guest faculty of the Department. Their screening was done in presence of Pabung Aribam Syam Sharma, another guest faculty of the Department, renowned filmmaker and a precious gem of Manipuri cinema. The first film is “Rangaan”(2022), the second film is “Forsaken Greys”(2022), the third film is “Life Saving Grass”(2022) and the last one is “Namthilok Ki Mani”(2022). Below are few lines of these magnificent films, according to the chronology of their screening.
The documentary film “Rangaan” is about an old traditional park called ‘Rangaan’ located at Dailong village of Tamenglong district in Manipur, India. A resting place locally known as Jengthek Bam started by the three Khangchiu (local group of youths) of the village. Visitors and villagers freshen themselves returning home from the field in Rangaan. The park was mostly surrounded by the trees locally called Tamui Bang. Therefore, Rangaan was also known as ‘Tamui Bang But’ in olden days. It is known for its unique ways of preserving trees by the villagers which has now become a tourist spot in Tamenglong. Even now, Rangaan is still used to hold meetings, conduct seminars about nature in preserving the forest. People from neighbouring villages would come and get some rest here, as they walk through the village. And when the villagers returned from your their fields, especially the youths, would come up for air in the park and enjoy their luscious rice wine. Thus freshen themselves before continuing their journey.
*The Forsaken Greys*
This documentary “The Forsaken Greys” depicts the life of those who stay in an old age home, living their life without affection of their love ones. There are some scenes that show the mental state, emotional breakdown and their hopes towards the children. No parents prefer to live apart from their family. In this stage of life, all they seek is love, care, support and respect from their children. Their feelings and sentiments should be understood. The place shown in this film is at Mongsangei, an old age home founded by All Manipur Senior Citizens Welfare Association with the objective of providing basic amenities for needy elders who are 60 years and above. The home provides shelter, food and comfort to those elderly people who can no longer live in their own homes. It also provides health care facilities such as general check ups, personalized diets and timely medication. All these necessities are well looked after albeit the much needed love and care is of course sadly missing. The film aims to disseminate the message to all the people that parents need our care and time as they once cared and dedicated all their life to their children. We should take care of our parents, love them and make them happy. To create a normal life for these elderly people, proper care and protection is indeed very essential.
In an interview with Haripriya, one among the filmmakers said, “Being a student of Mass Communication, I feel that our people should be made aware of how these poor and helpless people are being treated and to ascertain that such acts are not repeated in the future, this particular film was made as part of our University’s students project”.
*Life Saving Grass*
“Life Saving grass” is a documentary film based on bamboo, the giant grass, locally known as ‘Waa’ which is also the fastest growing and versatile plant. The film shows bamboo as a God gifted, life saving plant which can save the planet earth and its living beings. It also tells about the relationship between bamboo and indigenous people of Manipur since ancient times and how it relates to them starting from their birth till death. Overall, it shows the potential of Bamboo, its nutritional value as a food and its importance to the economy.
In a talk with Roshan Mutum, one among the 5 of their production team expressed, “We started off with a swift concept but luckily as we dive deeper into the project, our subject turned up as a universal one. We were lead to a whole plethora of Bamboo in our course of research and shooting. Apart from the variety of things that can be made with it and the health benefits that comes along while consuming, it has the potential to save our planet. It is said that Bamboo has the fastest growth rate where it can reach maturity in just a couple of years and has more carbon absorption capacity as compared to trees of the same volume. In this documentary, we’re rather left in constraints with time, so we intend to take up a bigger project in the near future as we still have a lot to share about the God gifted Bamboo yet”.
*Namthilok KI Mani*
Documentary film “Namthilok ki Mani” the title itself has a deep underlying meaning to it. Awang BOC, a place that is known for prostitution and drug-related activities which people don’t feel safe and spit upon is known by the drug users as ‘Namthilok’. But this disgusting place which people spit upon has its own story and one such gem among many is RK Nalinikanta, President, Community Network For Empowerment (CoNE) who was a former drug addict and is now a role model shaping youths and other downtrodden people. The film is about him and his journey of now being sober for 20 years and how his organization “CoNE” is helping people. The film talks about the challenges a drug user has to face in the family as well as in the society and how hard for the trust is to be rebuilt again and make everyone trust in the process. The film also talks about society’s perspective on drug users and how hard for them it is still to live a normal life even though they have stop taking drugs. The film talks about how society treats them still on one side of the coin and how on the other side the family and close ones treat them like highly like a hero knowing the journey that has been through which is the same as coming from hell to the earth. Users community eagerly waiting for equal existence.
In an interview with Vikash Khoirom , one among the production team said, “Being a student of mass communication, I would want everyone to understand the cyclic process of a drug user and it’s a time taking process of healing which needs close ones help and support. The film also conveys to give them a chance to recover with counseling and behavioral therapies instead of making them suffer the stereotypes. It also gives a hope that everything is possible to come back to the right path with right support”.
After every screening there were discussions among the production team and the audiences. The student’s documentary production was an extraordinary output in spite of all the inadequate equipment. The best part is their enthusiasm in bringing out various issues and subjects. Such talented students should not be left behind due to lack of resources and inadequate equipment. They can also be encouraged by organizing Student’s film festival, competitions and also providing them an area to screen films from time to time.
News Anchor at ISCOM, and a degree holder in mass communication from the Department of Mass Communication, Manipur University