Where is Manipur located? It’s a question often thrown at Manipuris by other citizens of India. In a bid to make the northeastern state popular, Wanglen Khundongbam, who has studied in Bangkok and London, chose to go back to his roots and make films.
A diploma holder in Digital Filmmaking from SAE Bangkok and a similar degree from London’s Middlesex University, the 26-year-old from Imphal, chose not to settle down abroad or in one of the Indian metro cities as he wants people across the globe to know about Manipur.
“In India itself, most people don’t know about Manipur. So, how do you expect people from other countries to know about its existence? After getting the required education and some experience in the field, I returned to my hometown in 2012 and started working on my first film ‘Pallepfam’ (Destiny).
“I hope I can make a change through my small endeavour,” Khundongbam, managing director of The Bluebird Pictures, which has produced the film, told IANS in a telephonic interview from Imphal.
The 2014 Manipuri feature, made at a budget of approximately Rs.1 million, was first screened for a few selected guests at a hotel in Imphal, where there are limited number of theatres, in December last year.
It kicked off the second edition of Fragrances from the North East, a three-day festival of cinema from the northeast, here on August 21.
“’Pallepfam’ was selected as the opening film of the festival. I think it’s an honour for the state. I was lauded by many movie-goers for the picturisation, story and direction. And the audience was not just from the northeast. It is quite encouraging,” said the budding filmmaker, who is also planning to send the movie to more film festivals.
Apart from sending his films to various festivals, he also hopes the government picks his movie and airs it on Doordarshan channel.
“The visibility will be more then,” said Khundongbam, who has also worked as an assistant director on a yet-to-be-titled Swedish film by Anders Lennberg.
“Pallepfam”, a romantic drama, is a fiction film that focuses on a man who begins to question reality as he starts living two extremely different, but parallel lives.
Wouldn’t he like to make films based on the socio-political issues in Manipur, which is perhaps the state where maximum number of strikes take place?
“I know films can be made on Inner Line Permit or Armed Forces Special Powers Act, but to make such films, you need to be completely dedicated to it. You can’t work on multiple projects when you have to decide to make films based on reality,” he said.
Since he is still a newbie in the industry, he wants to focus on fiction only as of now.
“We have thought of doing five projects. We have started working on the screenplay of the first one. At least, two of the films should release by mid of next year,” said the filmmaker, who also takes up advertising projects and does architecture concept designing to earn his livelihood.