“I was involved in the first film of Manipur in 1971, Karam Manmohon was the producer. I was a teacher in Philosophy in DM College at that time. I was also learning drama from Aryan Theatre simultaneously. I was involved with Roop Raag as a singer and music composer” expressed Padmashree Aribam Syam Sharma.
The film maker in an exclusive interview narrated that Urirei Madhabi and Khamba Thoibi were some of the film project they try to shoot for the first time but it was dropped as the production cost was estimated to be expensive. He was in the team when the efforts were made.
Deb Kumar Bose from Kolkata was the director of the film project. During those days Tritha Yatra a play by Arambam Samarendra was in practice at Aryan Theatre. They make a film based on that play and titled the film as Matamgee Manipur.
That time the films were made in celluloid and all the technicians were not from Manipur. Syam Sharma was involved as a music director where eminent singer Kamala, Jamuna and Buddhachandra sung their numbers.
Robindro a friend to Syam Sharma acted as the main protagonists of the film. The artists who have to play the role of the father were not present so Syam Sharma acted in the film as they all went to Kolkata for the film shooting.
While editing the film, the film editors need somebody who would guide them on manipuri language. As Syam Sharma spoke Bengali and Manipuri both he was actively involved in the film editing too. And that is how Aribam Syam Sharma learnt the art of making films.
Luckily the film Matamgee Manipuralso won a silver medal award for the best feature film in Manipuri in the year 1972.
“I do not have a formal training. I was exposed to film making. I was in Science stream during my studies and it proved helpful in my film making career. I was around 35 years old when I started making films” says the film maker.
Imagi Ningthemwon the international recognition as the movie received the Golden Montgolfiere in the Nantes film festival during 1982. Another film by Syam Sharma the Chosen One was screened in the Un Certain Regardsection at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.
Syam Sharma was awarded with Padmashri for his excellence in the art of film making by the government of India.
Photo Courtesy: Aribam Syam Sharma
Aribam Syam has achieved dual awards in national level thrice so far. Ishanou and Indigenous Games of Manipur in 1991. During 1995-96 for his films Sanabi and Yelhou Jagoi (dances of lai haraoba). Yelhou Jagoi was the opening film in Indian Panaroma films that time. Recently he repeated the feat on Pony and Leipaklei. In two different film genres Aribam Syam Sharma has achieved dual awards on feature and non-feature films. The achievement is unique and rare from an individual till today in the whole nation.
Some of his films are –
Crossroad, Pony, Leipaklei, Orchid, Ishanou, etc were few other films he has make so far.
Dasha is a feature film under process from Arambam Samarendra play and it is to be released shortly.
Arbam Syam has screened his international acclaim films at Hawai, Switzerland, Korea, and England (thrice).
Ishanou’ was among 25 films selected among 1000 films for screening in the Centenary year (100 years) of Indian Film. A big honour indeed for the film maker in the whole nation.
Imagi Ningthem was screened at Calcutta international film festival of India in 1981. From that time he got recognition and he personally expressed that he gain a lot of knowledge from the film festival as there was a lot of discussion by film makers from across the globe on his movie after the screening.
He wrote a book written on what people quoted on his achievements which was published in Guwahati. Extracts from local, national, foreign journals and newspaper were also included in the book.
Photo Courtesy: Aribam Syam Sharma
Aribam Syam Sharma is still making films.
Research scholars come to me for their knowledge on his films.
Aribam Syam expressed to Manipur Times that film has different aesthetic value and one need to feel the beauty within him before he try to capture it in the screen. It is not like we are just shooting with a camera.
On inspiration Syam Sharma spoke that every good film is an inspiration to him.
My Favourite pass time
Reading book, listening to book is my favourite pass time. I am a music composer so I like listening to music.
Film making in Manipur
Nothing was there in Manipur. It began from a scratch. I was the first managing director of Manipur Film Development Corporation. The building construction of MFDC was started during my time. I had organised many film workshop for imparting knowledge on film making so far through MFDC.
One needs to learn a lot when he decides to make films. It is a highly competitive time nowadays. Present day youths are very resourceful, learning and guidance is good. We need to watch good films, discuss and read good books.
We need to learn on the new digital film revolution. We need to watch good dances, good paintings, read good books, for these Manipur has good background. We gave polo to the world. Pony of Manipur plays a big role in polo and my film on Pony discusses on it. Thang ta and other distinguish assets of Manipur I have tried my best to express them in my films.
Film making is a creative art. The cameraman is a creative person. He needs to know what camera can do. It is not just the recording there is some creativity in it. We need to make the youth learn and watch good films.
I am very happy that the youths have excelled in the field. Many have brought laurels to the State.
Photo Courtesy: Aribam Syam Sharma
Film Director is a captain among Artists, Crew and it is a composite group in the team of film production unit. The director is responsible from starting to end while making a film. He has to define the shoot.
A single shoot is like a brick and bricks built the house. We need to know how to build the house, on how the bricks are put together. Film appreciation is a big course. We need to put lots of efforts. You have to face every challenge and learn the best.
Raj Lila is an international famous dance, one need to be curious to know the aesthetic beauty of the dance. We need to opine why it is famous. We need to know why a film is better from other. Ishanou is selected among thousands of film produced in the last 100 years in India. It is among the best 25 films screened to commemorate the Centenary Celebration of film in India. We need to know how to appreciate films and this way we learn to appreciate film continued the film maker.
He was also honoured life time achievement award by MFDC in 2010.
Aribam Syam was also actively involved in the Modern Manipuri song movement with Pahari and fellow artists as a member of Amateur Artists Association. He had composed ‘Kanada sinani firal asidi, hoh ima and many other songs so far.
“I have two sons and two daughters. One of my sons is a lecturer in NEHU University, Meghalaya. Another son is an advocate. One of my daughter is a singer another daughter is a senior manager at IBM, Kolkata. Dhruva my grandson knows a lot about my works and he helps me in assisting me whenever somebody comes to know about me on documentation” says Aribam Syam Sharma.
# Note : Some data of films taken out from Wikipedia.