1. Manik Raitong – Meghalaya
‘Manik Raitong’ directed by Ardhendu Bhattacharya in 1984 happens to be the first Khasi coloured feature film and is based on a popular legend of the secret romance between Liengmakaw the beautiful wife of a Khasi chieftain (Syiem) and Manik fondly called ‘Raitong’ meaning an orphan.
Legend has it that the chieftain apparently had to leave his home to fight a battle in some distant land. He did not return for two long years. The restless and lonely Liengmakaw was one day drawn by the sound of a flute from a distance. She traced the sound and found Manik Raitong in a hut playing melodious tunes on his flute.
Liengmakaw fell in love with the handsome Manik. Love between the two blossomed and Liengmakaw became pregnant with Manik’s child. When the beautiful Liengmakaw delivered a baby boy in the absence of the Syiem, the entire community was shocked. When the Syiem returned he was as shocked as his ministers at the scandal.
The Syiem told his ministers to summon all the men of the village to a Dorbar (meeting). They were asked to bring a banana each and offer it to the child. Any man that the child accepts the banana from would be taken to be the boy’s father. Each man offered a banana to the child but he did not even look at them. The Syiem was baffled. Manik Raitong being a social outcast had not heard of the summons and so he did not attend. Now, the Syiem sent for him as he was the only man left out. Manik came with a banana, and behold, the baby immediately went to him gurgling with glee.
The Syiem and his dorbar ruled that Manik had to be burnt alive on a pyre as a punishment.
Meanwhile the distraught Liengmakaw who was a prisoner in her house, broke open the door and ran towards the hillock where the pyre was set up.
Manik went round the fire dressed in finery and playing his flute for the last time. He jumped into the raging flames but before that he planted his flute into the earth. Liengmakaw arrived breathless at the horrific scene. She too jumped into the flames. Both were consumed by the fire.
Khasis believe that Manik’s flute is what gave birth to the bamboo plant and they say that the reason why the bamboo bends down is because of its sorrow at the tragedy that befell Manik Raitong and Liengmakaw.
2. Yarwng (Roots) – Tripura
The 95 minute film Kokborok film Yarwng (Roots) directed by Fr. Joseph Pulinthanath won the first national film award for Tripura at 56th National Film Awards (2008) held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, 19 March, 2010. The movie tells the story of large-scale displacement of tribal people that took place in the tiny Northeastern state when a hydel project was set up there in the late 1970s. It revolves around large-scale displacement in Tripura when the newly-built Dumbur dam submerged huge tracts of arable land in the fertile Riama valley about 40 years ago.
Yarwng was shot on actual locations like Bolongbasa and adjoining areas and many of the people who act in the film are real life victims of displacement. According to the filmmakers, the script of Yarwng emerged from the numerous encounters they held with displaced people in the sanctity of their ramshackle homes. “All the incidents and emotional turmoil we see in the film were etched in the subconscious psyche of the people. All we did was to get close to them and feel their stories as they recalled them with looks, sighs, tears and also words,” recalled the priest director Fr. Joseph Pulinthanath.
3. Khawnglung Run – Mizoram
The 122 minutes Mizo-language Action Romantic epic film Khawnglung Run is a 2012 directed by Mapuia Chawngthu based on true events of the historical massacre of Khawnglung during 1856-1859 and A memorable battle declared by a fearless young warrior to win back his love from the clutches of her heartless captors. The movie was released on August 23, 2012 in India.
Khawnglung Run is an intense tale of love, violence and adventure woven into the backdrop of the historic invasion of the village of Khawnglung.
It tells of the the budding romance of a young warrior in a controversial match-up with his maiden in the renowned hill-top village of Khawnglung. The love-story, however, takes an awry twist as the things get on the wrong foot between the residents of Khawnglung and their neighboring village Clans. While our hero is away on a visit tending to his ailing uncle in another village, the enraged joint forces of the neighboring village clans ravage Khawnglung.
They plunder the village, setting fire to the houses and destroying everything in their sight. Most of the unsuspecting residents are killed and the survivors are taken as slaves back to their captors’ homes. As luck would have it our forlorn heroine is one of the prisoners to be led away to become a slave to a ‘pawi’ warrior huntsmen in an obscure Pawi village.
4. “Chatledo Eidi”(Gone With A Heavy Heart) – Manipur
“Chatledo Eidi” is the first Manipuri feature film to win a national award in five years, the last such film being internationally reputed Aribam Shyam Sharma’s Sanabi in 1996. The story revolves around two persons-Sheilesh and Shandyaranj, Their helplessness and their incomplete Love story.
Sheilesh lost his father at a very young. After graduation, he appears for several interviews and boards in the hope of getting a job. But the present system of corruption failed to recognize the honest and hard working potential in him. He is completely disillusioned with his only hope and solace in his life being the company and love of his mother and younger sister.
By the end of the movie Sheilesh being a middle class, unemployed and helpless person condemned his fate and society. Bidding adieu to everything in life, he suddenly disappears, with the hope that Shandyaranj should marry someone better than him. Days passed. No one saw Sheilesh and Shandyaranj any more. Only silent tears rolled down Shandy’s cheek. She agreed to marry someone to fulfil her mother’s desire. But she went on with life with heavy heart.
Ajeyo (Invincible) – Assam
Ajeyo is an Assamese film directed by Jahnu Barua this year. The film is based on the Sahitya Akademi Award winner 1997 Assamese novel Ashirbador Rong written by Arun Sharma. The film was released on 3 January 2014.
Ajeyo depicts the struggles of an honest, ideal revolutionary youth Gajen Keot who fought against the social evils in rural Assam during the freedom movement in India. The film won the Best Feature Film in Assamese award in the 61st National Film Awards and also won the Best Film award in the 2014 Prag Cine Awards.
The story of Ajeyo takes place in a village of Assam in 1946, just some time before India’s independence and partition. Gojen Keot (Rupam Chetia), an honest yet short-tempered young man, lives alone with his grandmother. By doing some odd jobs here and there, he struggles to earn proper livelihood. He supports Gandhi and believes that once India becomes independent, social injustice will end.
Though he dropped out of school, he tutors the no-caste Muslim girl Hasina (Jupitora Bhuyan). Once as a rookie participant in the freedom struggle he failed to deliver a note to a team of marching protesters against the British that caused the lives of two freedom fighters. He regularly battles ghosts of his past related to this incident.
Most of the film involves Gojen’s defiant rebellion of the richest man in town, who sees India’s partition as an opportunity for land-grabbing. Gojen also fights against caste restrictions and child marriage. He helps Joba (Munmi Kalita), a Brahmin girl widowed at age 18, to elope with freedom fighter Madan Sharma (Kapil Bora) against the wishes of her father. Later he marries Hasina and leaves the village.
The story then flash-forwards to contemporary Assam, as Gojen’s granddaughter (Rimpi Das), a high-ranking policewoman, is continuing her grandfather’s fight against the social evils.
By: Soman Bhattacharya | Soiurce: TNT-TheNorthEastToday