Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi : 'Indrani' of Lamja Parshuram

Daniel Chabungbam *

Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi

Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi

Wahengbam ningol Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi took the lead role in the film Lamja Parshuram directed by Aribam Shyam Sharma it released in 1974. She was born in 1951 at Takhel Leikai, Imphal to Wahengbam Ibotombi Singh and Rajkumari Sanatombi Devi. She was married to Wing Commander of Indian Air Force, I. B.K. Singh son of Irengbam Yaima Singh from Iroishemba Lamdeng Khunou.

Bedamani completed BA LLB, MTT, PET and a diploma holder in Manipuri Dance. As teaching was a hobby of Bedamani, she formed a society in her husband's name at Manali in Himachal Pradesh and founded the Springfield Montessori School. She had been living with her children in Manali. As a dancer, Bedamani had performed not only in India but abroad. She represented India in the International Folk Dance Festival in Europe.

Bedamani took the role of Memcha in the first Manipuri film Matamgi Manipur (1972) and leading role as Indrani in the film Lamja Parshuram (1974). Besides, she also acted in the Manipuri documentary film Sanaleibak.

Actually, she did not choose film as a career. She studied dance at the Dance Academy when she was 7/8 years old. During her college days she also was a part of drama. She was familiar as a drama artist and as a dancer too. As Matamgi Manipur was the first Manipuri film of the state all co-operated with the team of the film. Many of them opined that the role of Memcha would be best suited to Bedamani. She did not go to join in the film. She never expected that she would cast in the film.

But, she was very happy when she was approached for the film. It was very different comparing to what was going on in film shooting in the present day. Now it is digital and technically developed. In their days, the script would be given to the actors and rehearsal was conducted. So many 'take' and 'cut' were the ordeal. But they were happy thinking as if film shooting was like that. Eigya Shyam also taught them alot.

Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi

Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi

Matamgi Manipur produced by Karam Manimohan was totally a social play. She could wear pants and any other for her role. The film was completely shot at Kolkata. The cameramen were also outsiders. Devkumar Bose, the director, was also a Bengali from Bengal. As shooting was almost done in Kolkata, she could wear various dresses which was not available in Manipur. There was not a single problem for dress. The make-up from the experienced artist also suited to her.

Shooting for Lamja Parshuram produced by Gurumayum Narayan Sharma was also mostly done in Kolkata. But some remaining scenes were shot in Manipur. After Brojendro gi Luhongba, Lamja Parshuram was the third film of Manipur. Films were not produced commercially in those days. The actors didn't ask and take for money for acting in films but only for a succesfull production. Thinking that a Manipuri film was going to be produced the whole team enjoyed a lot. Now-a-days, the actors used to ask for a fixed amount of money. But in those days nobody took money. The producers presented the dress they wore in the films as gifts.

After the release of Lamja Parshuram, many people responded positively. Some people used to utter that she was the one who acted as Indrani in the film. The film was shown for more than 100 days in the theatre. Comparing to the past, the artists of nowadays are very talented. The development in Manipuri films are very excellent. As the film she acted in was at a very initial stage for Manipuri films, the viewers just overlooked it. Whenever she visited Manipur, she used to watch many Manipuri films besides seeing through internet and CDs. She felt that films being produced nowadays have some artificial like dialogues. Indeed, many excellent artists are acting very well but they need to work harder.

Teaching is her hobby. Since 1993 she is in the profession of teaching. Her husband served as a wing commander in Indian Air Force. He passed away during the Kargil War in 1993. After her husband's demise, Defence Ministry inquired about where will her family settle. As her children were born outside Manipur she decided to settle in Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Before that she lived in Chandigarh for 12 years.

In Himachal Pradesh, no outsiders were allowed to buy land and settled. But through Defence Ministry's intervention, she got a piece of land in her name. She established a society in her late husband's name and running a residential school under the banner of 'Springfield Montessori School'. She works as the Director and Principal of the school. The school has no partnership, no financial assistance, it runs along with her son, daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law. After all she is doing everything. As a war widow, she also enjoys a huge pension. But she does not run the school for their personal and commercial gain. She runs it in a social aspect.

She likes to visit Manipur but due to her hectic schedule she could not. Manali has a long winter vacation and a short summer break. So, if she desires to be in her native state it would be during the winter season.

She feels about Manipur as various changes, various developments can be seen in Manipur . Even a flyover has come up. But due to different disturbances, people here in Imphal feel insecure. But during their time, there was a totally free and peaceful environment. As of now even though it has come accross various developments, the people live in fear. But, Manipur is a beautiful place. Works must be taken up to attract more and more tourists. If there is peace there will development too.

See a photo gallery of Irengbam Ongbi Bedamani Devi here

* Daniel Chabungbam is a frequent contributor to
This article was webcasted on December 21 , 2018 and updated on Janaury 1 2019 for minor edit.


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