Just a trend or "skeletal in the closet"?

Sana *

A scene from Mikhithi 2

A scene from Mikhithi 2

Even after watching hi-tech movies of the west it has always been an inclination that whenever I see a Manipuri movie around I cannot resist and I end up watching. I do not expect much as the themes tend to be repetitive, with the same heroes and heroines in every other movie. It is rare that one gets to watch a decent film but a rare Mami Sami or Phijigee Mani doesn't disappoint.

But an unhealthy trend has been repeated over and over again. One wonders if there is dearth of other storylines than the " rags to riches" story of the lead hero( in the case of Manipur, of course joining Civil Services).

The girl rejects the love at first seeing the poverty and then overnight falls in love because of his sudden status change. Have all the other issues of the society been overshadowed by this trivial matter? Initially the trend was started by the success of "Ingen gi Atiya" trickling down to Mikithi, Yaiskulgi Pakhang Angaoba, Lamja Sara.

All these movies mentioned are mainly love stories with the central theme of the heroes overcoming all odds to get the woman of his dreams. But the presentation truly demeans the character of the females in the society. It shows the film makers lack of research, creativity and the attempts of short- cut they are resorting to. What comes out is always a half baked love-story.

Watching movies and reading books about Manipur are one of the few means to stay connected to my roots. Naturally it saddens me that movies such as these are building the image of the society that I have always cherished being a part of. I f it is indeed the mirror of our society then I fail to understand how low our society has been stooped to. It seems like women have been reduced to a decorative piece just to be adorned.

Isn't it a little ironic to see that coming from a state which always boasted itself for the power of its women? Whenever we compare Manipur to the rest of India, it is the status of women that we always point out, one wonders where that status disappeared in the movies. Yet we all know that the reality is a little different than what we would like to be.

It is a known fact that the status of a woman in Manipuri society is not all that different from the rest of India. From the norm of wearing Phanek as school uniform to the rampant eve-teasing which I have seen even in Delhi amongst the small Manipuri Community staying here.

Or even many a times one comes across families who give birth to a lot of daughters till a baby boy comes along and the family finally stops growing. Many a time as a way of saying, a male child is referred to as a single born even if he has got sisters.

How can women be regarded liberated in such a society when they are not considered enough to be called a person? I guess foeticide is just what remains, to be in the league of our "mainland".

Like in the "mainland" a man has no qualmss marrying again after the death of his wife or leading a life of a bachelor but if the same thing is done by a female she is considered "loose". She is seldom allowed to gain company after her partner dies or leaves her. She is always needed to answer and judged upon by the society.

When a guy smokes and drinks it is nothing but when a girl does she is immediately type casted. I do not endorse all of these but I am referring to the mentality and the perception. As the great playwright Henrik Ibsen said "A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view".

As uncomfortable as I am watching these regressive movies I guess it does reflect womanhood in Manipuri society still struggling for emancipation. Till then progressive, modern themes and ideas would be a far cry from the monotonous and retrogressive themes of today's Manipuri movies.

* Sana wrote this article for e-pao.net
The Writer is a student at Delhi University and can be contacted at tsilver(dot)spoon(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on September 24, 2012.


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