Birth of Digital Feature Film Industry in Manipur

By: Tarangkhomba Moirangthem *

Is it a coincidence or was that a thoughtfully crafted visionary project to bring up Manipuri Cinema?

Thanks to the development of digital technology which has made the production of movies comparatively cheap and affordable to the producers and in turn contributed to the making of Manipuri Films a sustainable industry.

Before we go further let's take a glimpse at the Cinema Halls a few years back in the past. They used to show Hollywood Movies of high standards, our city though not so big used to be included in the world wide Friday Premiere's list of cities, we had James Bonds, Cow Boys and Super Heroes as well as Titanic and Romeo and Juliet at our big screens in Imphal.

Those were the days before the birth of digital movies in Manipur. Cinema Halls were in good business, they used to change movies every Friday, that means a profitable return above the cost of movie within a week or two. On the other hand, the Manipuri Film industry was on the blink of extinction, people seemed to be carried away in the powerful wave of a globalisation and westernisation.

Though it is necessary to be aware of and to participate in the trend of globalisation, it is also necessary to preserve one's own culture and not to forget the cradle. Meanwhile, a school of thought takes-up the initiative to stand up and defend the people from the sweeping wave of westernisation and considered to ban the entertainment channels in cable T.V. and movies in theatres which come in the language of our immediate West.

A cinema poster at the busy traffic point of Kangla gate/GM Hall

A cinema poster at the busy traffic point of Kangla gate/GM Hall

This proved to be a curse to the theatres which were once considered to be one of the most profitable businesses in the city. Many of the theatres were closed down due to loss of business and all the satellite businesses around the theatres were also closed. Those movies of the far West could not survive on their own without the host movies of the immediate West. And the Manipuri Film Industry could not produce enough movies to meet the demand due to financial problems, as it costs a minimum of Rupees fifteen lakh to produce a movie in celluloid films.

It seemed almost hopeless for those theatres to survive on that trend and few even renovated and turned into schools and shopping malls. Few years down the line digital film technology developed and made easy in making movies, cost of making a movie came down dramatically as the cost of celluloid reels had to be cut out from the cost of production so it came down to near Rupees one or two lakh, producers has to pay only for human resources and few techies.

Due to the development of digital technology, the production of movies has rapidly increased and this has come as a boon to those dying theatres. They replaced their celluloid projectors with digital projectors which cost comparatively low. Now the movie business is starting to flourish again, starting from the ashes like a phoenix, but in a different incarnation, involving local people, employing local people, serving our people and for our people.

The Digital Film Industry in Manipur has now become a sustainable industry employing lots of people who were jobless and it is also thought to be the only Digital Feature Film Industry in the world. But the big question is where is this film industry moving ahead? Is it going to improve the quality of the film?

It is evident that the present standard of the film could not compete in the global arena. A few Manipuri Films in the past has the pride of winning awards in the international competitions, so, it is expected to live up to that mark in the future too, or else it would not be able to prove fruitful on this revolution.

The development of digital technology and the work of that school of thought had played their parts in bringing up the Manipuri Film industry on their toes and get to move on. But it is not over, the battle may have been won but the war is not over, and it will never end. The development of technology has brought Direct to home Services and it has now crossed the front lines and broke those barriers.

The film industry has now been threatened again and the alarm bell has already rung. What would be the result of this battle would be an another story in the future.

* Tarangkhomba Moirangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express.
This article was webcasted on April 08, 2008.


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