Nobap - 150 Throbbing Minutes

Review by: R.K. Bidur *

Creative Quotient:

'Nobab' (Citrus Grandis Rutaceae/Pummelo) - a popularly consumed luscious fruit for title of a feature film! One might shriek "Are you kidding? It can't be true". However the Second Millennium Mongoloids Productions have got it for a real thing, their second venture goes by the appellation "Nobab". The main theme of the movie is soccer game.

Some cynics and film-pundits observe that there had already been plenty more films on football like "The Goal", "Escape To Victory" etc. It could only be a pale imitation of the original. Yet "Nobab" has a different tale to tell. There is, in fact, so much to football that one does not know about and so many happenings off the field.

We still cherish the memory of Wangkheirakpam Tomba's golden goal for Manipur against Goa in the Santosh Trophy Football Final, 2002. How the overpacked Khuman Lampak Stadium erupted! Guest appearance of international repute, Manipur's footballer Renedy Singh in the film is suited to the theme, and also symbolizes local craze, enthusiasm and interest of football.

Son of international theatre celebrities - Shri H. Kanhailal and Smt. H. Savitri, Heisnam Tomba is essentially a theatre artiste and director. "Nobab" marks his directorial debut. Unlike tenderfoot-film makers who go outright for commercialism, Heisnam Tomba is serious and intent on making socially meaningful film.

Making an enterprising team with Suresh Hidang, producer- writer - lyricist, Y. Kumarjit, screen playwright, Hodam Tommy and K. Boong, cinematographer and editor, O.Geet, music director etc., he comes up with a nonconventional film - "Nobab". The story is set in a remote village and most of the sequences of events are unrolled via the eyes of Thambou, driver of an old model jeep which shuttles between town areas and the village.

The plight of rural folks and eight kids in desperate need of football, but unable to afford one, kicking "Nobab" instead - are all well expressed in a comprehensible visual language. The benevolent driver with the help of his friend Thanou sees that the boys get a leather ball and participate in a seven a side football tournament.

The film reaches an exciting climax when the boys give gladly the entire amount of prize money won from the tournament to their teammate for medical treatment of his broken leg. The film is skilfully intercut with humorous romantic interludes - Thambou and Thaja; Thanou and Thoibi. Sort of flavour enhancers, is it?

"We shall overcome....", a 1930 American folk song became a key anthem for the Civil Rights Movement, 1950s. The Indian adaptation of it "Hum Honge Kaam Yaab...." also has a strong impact. The theme song of "Nobab" - "Houda Houjilu, Thok-aba-ama lakchani...." (Just get started, Fate would ordain a path....) bears a similarity with the aforementioned songs in style and structure.

The fact is - song has no demographics; it just flows freely. Heisnam Tomba, unlike deadweight film makers manages to make a different film after all - and a middle of the road one at that. It is obviously a cut above B-movies.

Technical Expertise:

The condition of present day Manipuri Cinema may be elucidated best in the words of Christian Metz, French Theorist - "An easy art, the cinema is in constant danger of falling victim to this easiness". This very easiness may be attributed to the Manipuri cinema's becoming down-beat.

Quality, at any cost must not be compromised with quantity. "Nobab" is not a story that somebody tells you just to make you feel sorry for the poor people, it has other meaning and a shot's meaning can go very far beyond the subject. The film would have been better if a few sequences, such as apparent abduction of Thambou and child kidnapping for forced labour had been trimmed. They are neither sensibly treated nor developed as meaningful sub-plot.

The subjective camera involves the audience in the development of scenes/sequences. Coverage of the football match looks really professional; players' struggle for possession of ball and attacks and counter attacks in the goal mouth melee, are all vividly recorded from different camera positions. Capture of scenic beauty is indeed a treat to watch too.

However oft-repeated long shots of scenery surrounding the events and aerial shots making characters and the objects dwarfed in the vast landscape hardly carry meaning to the story. Some actions cannot be organized for the camera; instead the camera must go to the action.

But for harsh Regulations, Indian Panorama, International Film Festival of India, 2009 which say no to all digital formats, "Nobab" might have been eligible for feature.


Three Stars - one for story-screenplay, one for sincere and realistic attempt at the film making, one for eight frolicsome kids.

Scene gallery - see here.

* R.K. Bidur reviewed this film.
This article was webcasted on November 06 2009.


Who is the Best Actress?

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


Powered by Disqus

Back to top