Due to limited market and failure to adopt a film policy, Manipuri film industry’s journey is quite bumpy so far. It is everybody’s opinion that introduction of sense of competition and encouraging the youngsters to join the field of professional filmmaking in Manipur are important for speedy growth of Manipuri films. Almost all the producers are making films out of their love for Manipuri films.
“I produce films as I love Manipuri films” – is a common talk among Manipuri film producers. However, film makers need to accept the challenge and make up their mind to do something different and extra.
Except some film buffs, no economically sound individual wants to enter into Manipuri film world. Versatile Manipuri film Actor, Lairenjam Olen shares his thoughts to Manipur Times in a recent interview.
Lairenjam Olen, one of the leading Manipuri film actors is popular for his roles as a village boy or a very down to earth person. His performances are often loud and impressive. In most films, his role takes a strong dramatic presence and he is often credited with bringing lighter moments in serious films too. Olen’s role in both comedy and tragedy films has won public acclaim on many occasions. Manipuri films ‘Lallasi Pal’, ‘Dr. Yaima’, ‘Nangna Mama Oibiyu’, ‘Lakhipurgi Lakhipyari’, ‘Chang si Chang’ and ‘Radharani’, etc are some of the memorable films of Olen. So far, he has acted in about 180 Manipur digital films.
Before his entry in the world of Manipuri digital film, Olen is a theatre artiste. He is a member of Orient Drama Union, Sangakpham, Chingmeirong. In the journey of his acting career, he has achieved best actor award in Manipuri film festival organised by Film Forum Manipur in 2007. Film Academy Manipur (FAM) also conferred him best actor award for his role in ‘Nungsi Hekta Hairage’ in 2008. Olen has also got NETV People’s Choice award in 1995. He has acted in around 15 theatre plays, two short plays, three celluloid films, 11 video films and nearly 180 Manipuri digital feature films.
Olen’s debut film was ‘Khongchat’, released in October 1996. The role of ‘Ta Tomba’ he took in the film is still remembered by the people of Manipur. The script of the video film was written by him. Sanou, cameraman Ratan, Ipu and many others took great roles in the production of the video film.
40-year-old Lairenjam Olen is the only son of Lairenjam Shyamkesho and Ibemhal of Sangakpham, Imphal. His father is a retired Government employee while his mother is a housewife. He passed matriculation from Lairikyengbam Leikai High School in 1989 and graduated from Pune University in Science stream in 1992.
His father was a theatre activist. Once young Olen saw a drama in which his father took the role of a police officer. The drama inspired young Olen to become an artiste. He joined Orient Dramatic Union and started acting in different plays.
The first Manipuri digital film wherein Olen took the main role was ‘Lallasi Pal’.
In 1998, he was working as a Co-operative Inspector. He had to leave the job due to downsizing policy of the Government. He is married with Ningthoujam Ningol Sarju Devi in 2006. The couple has two sons – Olson and Oasis.
“In a ‘Bir Tikendrajit’ play staged on 13 August, I once took the role of Khelendra Subedar. I was so happy to get the opportunity of taking a main role in the journey of my theatre career. In the scene of hanging of BirTikendrajit by the British, one of my friends from the audience teased me. I felt like laughing out loud on seeing my friend’s gesture. But I had to hold it back hard. To control my laughter, my legs were trembling. When the curtain was closed after the end of the drama, I was so happy. I still feel the moment”, recalled Olen.
He maintained that the growth of Manipur digital films is very slow as its scope of market remains mainly in the four valley districts of Manipur. Some measures need to be taken up to globalise Manipuri films. Distributor system is yet to be introduced in Manipuri film market, he added.
When the distributors system in Manipuri cinema is introduced, there will be speedy growth of market of Manipuri films to some extent. Presently the producers are bringing out films and the marketing of the films is also done by them. Scope of market cannot be expanded under the existing movement of Manipuri films.
If a producer experiences loss once, he does not want to invest money any more out of fear. Business loss on the part of producer is also a loss of all the film activists. In case of distributor system, producers will face no market loss. An authorised distributor will purchase a newly released film from the producer at a rate fixed between them. Taking an instance, a producer brings out a Manipuri digital film with a budget of Rs 5 lakhs. He will sell the film to a distributor at the rate of Rs 6 or 7 lakhs with one or two lakhs as profit. The distributor then will automatically make out all efforts to sell the film in every nook and corner around the globe for earning more profit.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lairenjam Olen and Manipurtimes
Under such system, market of Manipuri film will achieve good growth, observed Olen while adding that coming out of large numbers of audience is necessary for sustenance of Manipuri film.
Manipuri film artistes are working with dedication. The income earned through their works is not enough to maintain family as an artiste. They, however, get themselves satisfied with the appreciation and the clapping of the people. In view of the present scenario of Manipuri film, being an actor or actress is not a well to do profession for earning money. As a result of the poor payment to the artistes, almost all the actors or actresses in Manipur have to sign many film projects for earning.
Government need to take up measures to adopt a film policy for promoting Manipuri film, added Olen.
Simple and frank, actor Olen leads a simple life without much vanity. Team Manipur Times extends its heartfelt thanks for his frankness and well hospitality at his home during the rendezvous for the preparation of this feature article.