An interview with Gokul Athokpam in February 2011

Interviewer - Surjit M *

An interview with Gokul Athokpam, one of the leading actor of the Manipur Digital Film, before receiving the Special Award of the 5th RJ Film Vision Special Award 2010-11, on the occasion of 6th foundation Day of the Film Academy Manipur (FAM) held on February 12, in Imphal. (See a Photo gallery of the award function in here ).


Gokul in a scene from "Imagi Ibungo"

The Film Academy Manipur is among the groups that have been working to promote the film and performing arts of the region to the outside world. Besides that, FAM is a remarkable academy not only imparting the knowledge of acting, dance, song etc to young and budding artists of the state but also has been encouraging the artists of Manipur by recognizing their efforts through awards as a part of its foundation day celebrations. This year the leading actor of digital film of Manipur Gokul Athokpam, has been selected for 5th Film Vision Special Award 2010-11, by the FAM on its 6th foundation day.

FAM interviewer Surjit M met up with Gokul Athokpam for this interview. Here are some soundbites from Gokul during the chat up before starting the interview.

"Film for artist like us is our life"

"Being an artist in a state like Manipur, known for its potential for Art and Sports can be considered as a great contribution to being the son of the soil. Where I am is due to the love and support shown to the film industry by the people.

FAM: Gokul, you look very fit now physically. It is evident with this nomination for the award that the viewers - young, old and I am sure the teenage girls - have shown how much they like you.
Gokul: I hope what you say is true. Without their love and affection, I guess no one will know who Gokul is. In this short period of my life, I would like to extend my service for them and earnestly beg for their everlasting support.

FAM: You enjoy a very enviable fan following from those pretty and fashionable girls. I presume that the maximum votes for your awards are also from these young girls. So, have you ever regretted for being entering into a married life, very early in your career?
Gokul: I thank those who have chosen me for the award with no bounds. Yes, indeed the young girls these days have very good knowledge of fashion. I want the young girls to view me as their brother. As for my early marriage I have no regrets. Who knows if I delay a little bit more, I might not have met my wife - Sonia, whom I considered as my life.

FAM: What sort of activities you indulged in when you were young? Can you tell us which one did you join first - Film or Shumang Leela?
Gokul: From a very young age along with studies, I started taking up body building. When I was in my Twelfth standard, I used to take tutorial classes for kids. During that time I got an opportunity to appear on a film. Films have been my desire too. My first film was shot in a Video format.

FAM: After entering the film industry, how did you manage to join the Shumang Leela? What is the difference between a Film and Shumang Leela?
Gokul: With the advice of my elders that Sumang Leela is one of the significant schools for performing arts of the land, I join the Shumang Leela group after appearing in about four films. Besides video format films, I was even a part of the celluloid artist group produced by the Bright Film under the title "Dawn". In 2001, I even got the title of a "Dawn Actor". There is not much difference between film and Shumang Leela when it comes to acting. The only difference is that in film one have to act once and later distribute it (to Film Theatre) however for Shumang Leela, one have to go from one place to another and do the same act.

FAM: Do you still have the desire to act in Shumang Leela? Have you ever received any awards for Shumang Leela? How many awards have you received for acting in Films?
Gokul: I don't have any desire to act in Shumang Leela now. I once received the Best Actor for a Leela. In 2004, I got the Second Best Actor award during the State Shumang Leela Festival, the name of the Leela (play) was "Lidisigi Gulab". I acted as an army officer name - Boris of Lidisi. As for films, this is my second Special Award in two consecutive years from FAM.

Gokul Athokpam

Gokul Athokpam speaking at the 5th RJ Film Vision Special award 2011

FAM: How do you feel on being chosen for the award?
Gokul: I received the same award last year too. As it was my first ever award I was very overwhelmed with happiness (for the first award) . I am much happier for being selected for the same award this year too. I pray to God to bless the organizers for their contribution in encouraging the artist by constituting such an award, irrespective of big or small. I give my credits to God, family members and all elders who have guided me all the way.

FAM: Thank you for respecting the efforts of the FAM. Gokul, People are saying that you are more suited for negative role rather than the main protagonist's role, what do you feel about it? Do you just accept a role offered by the Director or would you choose? Which one would you prefer - a negative role or the main protagonist's role?
Gokul: There is nothing left to say when everyone has their opinion of what role suits me most. Artist means people's choice and the survival of the artist depends on people. Taking a role offered by a director is also another duty of the artist. Personally, I prefer the main protagonist's role.

FAM: So, how many films have you appeared in? Of which, how many are yet to be released?
Gokul: I have appeared in about 118 films so far. About 10 films are on the verge to be released. Currently about 4 films is under shooting and about 5 film has completed shooting.

FAM: How was the film titled "Tayai" produced? Do have any interest in becoming a producer in the future? Or any other plans other than this?
Gokul: The Film "Tayai" serve as a challenge in my life. It is the film where I gained my reputation. There was no prior plan in producing the film however that challenge had led to the existence of the film. There are many actors in Manipur producing films. I wrote the story for "Tayai". I had already given away the script to someone else however they were unable make the film. I received an underestimated response from some of the Producers on being enquired on how a film was produced. So, I took up the challenge to produce "Tayai". I aim to become a director later. I think, it is the right time for me to start taking lessons for film direction but I am not able to do so due to my busy schedule.

FAM: What is the current condition of the honorarium or charges of a film? What was the first amount that you received for the first time? How much do you charge now?
Gokul: I received an amount of rupees 500 for the first time as an artist. I think I'm the highest paid actor currently. On the other hand, I would like to become a good actor to achieve the highest award every year.

FAM: What message do you want to give to the upcoming youngster artist to become a successful artist?
Gokul: To the upcoming youngster, as a brother I would like him to have discipline and respect towards their elders. One should be committed, sincere, honest, hardworking while doing their duty. And also, one should avoid temptation of short term pleasures to become a real artist.

FAM: Thank you Gokul for sparing your time for coming to the Academy and sharing your thoughts and opinion.
Gokul: I express my heartiest appreciation and gratitude to FAM for encouraging the young artist of Manipur and for honoring the artists with an award. I further hope that the FAM may be able to organize a bigger and better awards ceremony and also request the FAM not to hesitate to approach me for any need in upholding the Academy.

* Surjit M took this interview for Manipur Film Academy (FAM) in early February 2011. This interview is originally published in Meiteilon for FAM and later translated in English by e-pao eRang Team. This article was webcasted on March 14, 2011


Who is the Best Actress?

  • * Abenao
  • * Binata
  • * Devita
  • * Kamala
  • * Manda
  • * Sonia
  • * Sunila


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