Heart-to-heart talk with Ajit Ningthouja : The multi-faceted personality of Manipuri Film industry

Bidyarani Thingujam *

Ajit Ningthouja

Ajit Ningthouja

He is a Lyricist, Editor and Director of Manipuri Film Industry. A versatile artist who has carved a niche for himself in the Industry where there is little scope for a career. He is a man who made his way through hard work and strong determination. His walk from being a lyricist to a Director is also a roller coaster ride. He had also seen the darker sides of life.

He is Ajit Ningthouja, the man behind the soulful number 'Nangi saktam nungshiba helli, nungshibi maithong uningba helli' which still captures the heart of many youngsters. He had also given direction to numbers of films including Meerang Mahum, Delhi Melei, Sor, Kongol and Eina Phagi Touraga.

At his rented accommodation at Sagolband Bijoygovinda near NRL Oil pump, E-pao.net has a quick catch up with the versatile artist.

Here are the excerpts from his interview.

E-pao: Welcome, tell us about your early experiences in Manipuri Film Industry?
Ajit Ningthouja: I first started to pen lyrics and gave my first song in the film Telanga Mamei when I was at Class 10. The song 'Lonna Chikna' was sung by two popular singers Ranbir Thouna and Huidrom Pushparani under the music direction of Oken Amakcham. After that, I worked as an assistant at a CD Library shop at Paona Bazar to help my studies and Dashu Films was on the top floor of our shop and many film artists came there. I was always curious about the film studio and when I got a chance one day, I volunteer myself to learn as a film editor at the studio.

E-pao: What inspired you to become a Film Director?
Ajit Ningthouja: While I was learning the art of video editing, I started to feel that I should learn direction as well because I had a surge to learn all the techniques of film making. In the meantime, I met Oken Amakcham and started learning direction under him for five years. I gave my songs in Telanga Mamei and Magidamak directed by Oken Amakcham. Later I worked under National awardee O Gautam for another five years in Kangla Films. I had learn editing and direction under different teachers for 15 years. Later I started to write songs for music video albums which were banned for some time in the state. I wrote my first lyrics for the music album 'Nangi saktam nungshiba helli' sung by Sori Senjam. Then the rest is history.

E-pao: How many songs have you wrote so far?
Ajit Ningthouja: More than 100 songs I have written till now. Under my own direction, lyrics and editing, there are nearly 100 songs including music video albums and films.

E-pao: Tell us about your experiences in the field of film direction? Which was your first film? Name us some of the films you have directed.
Ajit Ningthouja: 'Meerang Mahum'. I have directed 14 films so far and 3 films are in the process of making and another 3 projects are on the way. I have given direction for Meerang Mahum, Sira si Changa Chang, Nungshit Mapi, Delhi Melei, Sor, Konggol, Eina phagi Touraga, Nangna Nokpa Yengningi, Mani Mamou etc.

E-pao: Tell us about your family. Where you came from, about your parents and how many siblings have you got? Tell us about yourself?
Ajit Ningthouja: My birthplace is Naranseina Maning Leikai, Moirang under Bishnupur District. My father Ningthoujam Yaima worked as a Supervisor in Water Supply Department and my mother Ningthoujam ongbi Binakumari is an Anganwadi Worker. I am the second son among four siblings. I have also seen hard days during my childhood as my father was taken ill and had to go for treatment at Guwahati. I used to work as a newspaper hawker to be able to look after my siblings when my parents were away. I have acquired so many experiences during my hard days and it had helped me a lot in shaping my career. I study up to Class 10 at a boarding school at Moirang, finished secondary school from City Montessori School at Lamboikhongnangkhong and completed my graduation from a college in Thoubal.

E-pao: Share us about the difference between working under other Directors and having your own directorial venture.
Ajit Ningthouja: I have learned so much from my teachers. There are times when I want to give different ideas and shots but couldn't apply as I have been working under a Director. Now, it's easy as I have my own venture. I can use my ideas and thoughts and can put it into practice. These are the differences. I also used to do stunts in my films. The knowledge of editing has helped me a lot in film direction.

Ajit Ningthouja

Ajit Ningthouja

E-pao: Your opinion about the present status of Film industry in Manipur. Did you think that a person can survived in the Industry?
Ajit Ningthouja: Manipuri Film Industry has developed a lot despite of the ever increasing trends of You Tube channels and many other private websites. This present trend of social networking sites has reduced the popularity of Manipuri films but we are working to revive the film culture of Manipur that was hype in olden times. Meanwhile, there had been lots of upgrade in equipments. We have seen better picture quality and better production. Even if there is fallback in one section, there is still upgrade in another section.

E-pao: About your future endeavours?
Ajit Ningthouja: I have plans of setting up of a film academy or institute. As there had been no particular film academy or institute in the state, I would like to build a film academy of my own in order to groom the talents of the state.

E-pao: One of your hard experiences of film shooting?
Ajit Ningthouja: There are many but one experience was during the filming of a song sequence of my upcoming film 'Happy Band', the song was for night sequence and it has to be shot at night. The shooting starts at around 6 in the evening at East Garden, Wangkhei and the shooting went on until dawn breaks. We had to wrap up the shooting because the song was meant to be filmed at night time but it was already morning. So this was one of the tiring experiences we had gone through.

E-pao: Your message?
Ajit Ningthouja: There is a promising career in Manipuri Film Industry. Particularly my message to upcoming film artists, hard work and strong determination is the key to success. Do not try to follow any field of art blindly. Trained yourself first, maintain discipline, have strong determination and success will eventually follow you. One last thing I want to appeal to concerned authorities is to look into the lack of facilities in the film arena. Moreover better cinema halls, film academy etc are needed. If these things are provided, I think the problems of unemployment will also be lessened.

E-pao: Thank you for sparing a little time for us. We wish you a brighter future ahead.

Ajit Ningthouja

Ajit Ningthouja

Work Experiences:

Assistant Director and Assisstant Editor in following films
* Telangga Mamei, Nangtana Helli, Ayekpa Kajal, Mageedamakni, Punshishina Kanagee--Oken Amakcham
Documentary Film 'Ngarang Ngasi Amasung Hayeng' - oken Amakcham
* Naoshum, Keishamthong Thoibi, Manipur Express, Ei Ngaode, Khongthang Gi Makhol - O Gautam
Nangse - Bobby Wahengbam

Work Experiences as an Editor, Lyricist and Director:
Feature Films:

Danger, Meerang Mahum, Delhi Melei, Shiraga Shi Changaga Chang, Nungshit Mapi, Attang, Nangna Nokpa Yengningi, Sor, Selfie, Konggol, Mani Mamou, Thamoido Ngairi, Hang Hang, Eina Phagi Touraga, Happy Band

Best Music Video, Best Singer, Best Lyricist, Best Director, Best Make Up And Best Actor For 'Engao Ngaojabi' in Nongin Music Festival 2014
Best Actor Male, Best Supporting Actor Female, Best Director, Best Lyricist, Best Costume, Best Music Video For 'Hingge Khalli' in Nongin Music Festival 2015
Best Actor Female, Best Make Up, Best Lyricist, Best Costume, Best Editor, Best Director, Best Music, Best Singer For 'Mikap Thoklo Meitei Chanu' in Nongin Music Festival 2018
Best Male Singer, Best Lyricist, Best Editor, Best Costume For 'Nangna Nokpa Yengningi' in 5th SSS MANIFA 2016
Best Actor Male, Best Lyricist, Best Editor, Best Choreography For 'Eina Phagi Touraga' for SSS MANIFA 2019

Upcoming Movies:

Mangang Luwang Khuman, Lost In Bangkok, Huranbagi Tarani Mapugi Nongma, Attang

* Bidyarani Thingujam is a frequent contributor to e-pao.net
This article was first webcasted on April 20, 2019


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