Let There Be A Nobap Effect

Review by: echaandam *

At the very outset, I'll implore everyone to rush to the nearest cinema and see Suresh Hidang's NOBAP, which is directed by Heisnam Tomba, the scion of the famed Heisnam Kanhailal of Kalakshetra, which, in turn, is one of the shining stars in the theatre horizon of not only India but also of the whole globe.

Truth be told, I've this urge to climb up the nearest roof-top and shout at the top of my voice: EVERYBODY. GO AND WATCH NOBAP!

For Rs 16/-a ticket, I can assure you that you will be rewarded with two and half hours of immense drama and haunting moments. For a paltry Rs 16/- anybody in the whole globe won't get such drama and spontaneous scenes except here in Manipur.

For me, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoy the movie.

I'll avoid the usual format of lengthy and tiresome read of most film reviews. I'll be terse and quick.

As I see it, the director wants you to voluntarily shorn yourself completely off your present, of your environs and gently descend into a small village, nestled in a mountainside----dusty, provincial and with all the imaginable signs of poverty written all over its soul and sinews. Once the director welcomes you there, he starts, amidst the dust and the pervading poverty, telling you the stories of human bondages, of human woes and smiles, of human longings and the cruel social norms.

In my mind, the director succeeds exceedingly well here. Why don't you, for a change, let the director welcome you yourself to this small village, by the mountainside?

I don't have the names of the child artistes, but, besides them, all the artistes in the movie manage to so successfully creep inside their respective characters. All these bear testimony to the under-rewarded but hardy profiles of the artiste of Manipur.

Abenao and Gokul, with their roots in theatre, do not come up with no particular surprise—I mean, everybody expect them to act well in every movie. What stand out here are the unspoken words of Thoibi, portrayed by Abenao. The director makes Thoibi to send out subtle ripples of her unrequited romance by her eyes, by her wooden face, by her delicate body languages.

This leaves us with no options but to let our own imaginations take wings of their own and chase down the UNSPOKEN WORDS of Thoibi. If I have not this overriding urge to climb up the nearest rooftop and shout (!), I would have opted for these words as the title of this review: THOSE UNSPOKEN WORDS AND ABENAO.

Surprisingly, Ranjana melds so effortlessly into the milieu of the village.

I'll come to Raju Nong when I discuss the weakness of the movie below.

But what about the weaknesses of the movie? I'll list them down as below.

a) I think that the director is so thoroughly engrossed in characterizing the village and its environs that he fails to characterize the main protagonist, Thambou, the driver of the passenger Jeep, who is portrayed by Raju Nong. It's an irony, isn't it? The director fails to characterize the main protagonist but still the movie is very good. This may be because of the likely fact the real protagonist may well turn out to be the village itself with all it environs

But the movie will be more complete (let's avoid using the tricky words like 'perfect') if there is proper characterization of the Jeep driver.

b) This follows from the point (a). As there is no proper characterization of the Jeep driver, the director fails to visually describe the 'inflection point' of how the otherwise aloof and business-minded Jeep driver so suddenly starts developing exceedingly strong rapport with the village brats.

The Jeep driver ostensibly arrives at the village for profitable business (with the bonus in the personae of Thoibi) in plying the Jeep for transport. How should he fritter away his time and hard-earned money in financing and organizing a soccer team for the village brats?

The director should show some 'unplanned moments', which, by their sheer forces of events, propel the profit seeking Jeep driver to the money-wasting venture.

c) This point is minor. But I should not fail to point it out. The director fails to visually capture the thriving business of Thanbou. Although the village is small and poor, he is providing the lone (and so monopolistic) transport service to it. Normally, a passenger Jeep is literally crawling with passengers, with 2/3 hanging from the back side. Besides the crawling passengers, there should be motley bundles of the merchandize of the womenfolk on top of the engine hood and even on the hood covering the passengers.

In case the director shows it, there might even be some plausibility (and thus greatly enhancing the drama) of how he so effortlessly waltzes into the business of financing and managing a soccer team!

But I still have this urge to climb up the nearest rooftop and shout: EVERYBODY, GO AND WATCH NOBAP!

Somebody should ask me why?

In trying to answer this question, I'll take a little digression.

Before I try my hands in writing this review, I had already read the review of this film by the well-known critic, RK Bidur. He did the review for Epao (www.E-pao.net). As he is arguably a part of the film establishment of Manipur and the present reviewer is just a film enthusiast, the later may take the liberty to criticize him—criticizing the critic! In that review, RK Bidur opined that the scenes capturing the 'kidnapping' of the Jeep driver add nothing to the movie.

I beg to differ.

In my mind, the scenes capturing the 'kidnapping' culminated in the cute little scene inside the Jeep when Thambou, off-handedly, handed over two 'chingphees' to Thoibi, saying they are the gifts from her 'tachou', who is ostensibly a UG cadre. The 'chingphees' serve as powerful symbols to the otherwise 'unspoken 'romance between Thambou and Thoibi, even though it seems to be a little digression from the main storyline.

And, it is exactly where NOBAP sets itself apart from the current crops of Manipuri cinemas—I'll name it: DETAILS FOR SUBPLOTS. ( I should not omit here that Gokul's TAYAI, which incidentally did very well in the box office, excels in details for subplots but people start murmuring that it's an adaptation of a Tamil film).

NOBAP shines in these two facades:

--consummate characterization of the village and its environs (which may well turn out to be the protagonist)

--details for sub-plots.

And, I must emphasize this, these facades are exactly the factors which are lacking in the architecture of the current crops of Manipuri cinemas.


Having arrived at the above two points, I'm now ready to answer question about my 'rooftop climbing ' urge!

Immediately aftermath the advent of Ninghtouja Lancha's MAMI SAMI, there began a discernible movement towards professionalism in cinematography in Manipuri cinema.

Let's call it 'MAMI SAMI' effect.

Why can't we have another life-giving effect which would push Manipuri cinema towards professionalism in characterization of ,at least, the main protagonist and sketching of details for subplots?

Can we call the coming effect as 'NOBAP' effect?

This is the reason why I have this overriding urge to climb up the nearest rooftop and shout at the top of my voice: LET THERE BE A NOBAP EFFECT!

Scene gallery from Nobap - see here.
Read a review by R.K. Bidur on this same film here.

* echaandam reviewed this film.
You can contact the reviewer blog here or echaandam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on February 10 2010.


Who is the Best Actress?

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


Powered by Disqus

Back to top