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Rendezvous with Manipuri Film Actress R.K. Hemabati

Photo Credit : Tiken Photography

RK Hemabati is a veteran Manipuri actress who is actively working for the Manipuri films taking the role of a “mother”, sometimes the role of a “sister in law” in films. The 59 years old actress was a popular heroine of Manipuri film who was highly acclaimed for her beauty and artistic talents. Despite her growing age, beauty of the actress and her passion for acting in films or dramas never gets withered. No doubt, Hemabati can still mesmerize many audience through her acting and dialogue.

Hemabati’s brief life sketch

Born to late R.K. Sanatomba and Ngangbisija Devi of Nongmeibung Wangkheirakpam Leikai on December 23, 1957, RK Hemabati is the fourth daughter among eight siblings of four sons and four daughters. She got married to Haobam Priyokumar and is the mother of two kids, one daughter and a son. They live in Kangabam Leikai, Imphal.

Hemabati began her early schooling at Mutum Leikai LP School and passed matriculation from Ananda Singh Higher Secondary School in 1970-71. She completed graduation from GP Woman College in 1975.  Since her childhood days, Hemabati had a great passion for art, singing, dancing and acting in plays and dramas. Despite her passion for singing, she did not learn singing as she had no guide.

Beginning of her acting journey

Since the olden Manipur society did not encourage women to be an artiste, parents prohibited their daughters to opt for art career. As such, Manipuri woman could not work for art bravely. Women were not allowed to be artistes. Lady artistes were socially stigmatized and considered ‘immoral’ by the then social norms. Challenging the entire social stigma, she joined drama plays in her free schedule. Although society made a mockery of her career, she consistently worked for art.

Her debut film – Yairipok Thambalnu

In course of time, young Hemabati began to know the world as she grew up and mixed with many friends. She made her debut in the Manipuri filmYairipok Thambalnu released in 1976. She was assigned for taking the lead role of Thambalnu in the film Yairipok Thambalnu when she submitted her photo to the film industry inviting for new faces of artistes. It was Yairipok Thambalnu that established the popularity of Hemabati as an actress.

Although her parents hardly encouraged her when she opted for film career, they never directly prevent her from acting in films. They, however, advised her to work with a great determination to achieve success in the career she opted for, Hemabati said.

After making her debut in Yairipok Thambalnu, Hemabati started acting as lead role in Manipuri celluloid films including Khonjel, Khamba Thoibi. Since celluloid film production was expensive at that time, Manipuri films were produced after a gap of 10 to 15 years. She acted in as many as nine celluloid films.

Theatre background

Without much theatre background, Hemabati started her acting career in films. To make up her weakness in acting, she managed to improve her acting skill by joining MDU as artise and could scrap ‘the weakness of shyness’ from her when she got proper training from various threatre gurus of MDU. After joining MDU, She acted in many dramas like Khamba Thoibi drama wherein she acted as Thoibi. She also acted in J.C. Tongbram’s play Sana Yathang and Samajgi Langlen Sahitya organized by local community clubs.  As a theatre lover, she still continues to act in some particular drama plays like Bir Tikendrajit, Puya Mei Thaba etc.

Hemabati began her acting career at the age of 26 years. Apart from acting in celluloid films, she has also acted in many digital films. She acted in Manipuri celluloid films like Meichak, Thamoinadi Kouhouri, Amambasu Anganbani, Aroiba Natte. For digital films, “Thajabagi Wangmada” was her first Digital film. At first, she didn’t take any assignments for the Digital films which were offered to her. Finally, she gave in acting for digital films too considering that “art is art”.

The character of a poor woman in the film Thamoinadi Kouhouri produced under bright films banner is her best choice she still loves. The poor woman’s husband is a driver and the couple dedicated all they had to help their younger brothers matured. Her husband died in an accident while her daughter died due to cancer. After the death of her husband and daughter, she was alone as nobody including her brothers who the couple helped to be officers did not take care for her. She has acted around nine films produced under Bright Films banner so far.

Compelled by pressures, Hemabati started taking the role of a “mother” in Maniouri Digital Films. “I felt hurt when the producers proposed me to take the role of a mother as I always acted as Heroine in many films. Before taking the role of mother, I consulted with my family, friends and relatives to seek their views about the role I was to take, she said.

Writing – her another passion

Hemabati is not limited to acting in films only. She writes books on poetry, short stories and scripts for Radio drama at her free schedule. Her Radio drama Angouba Leichil was broadcasted in AIR Imphal and he still continues writing. She have already published a collection of 21 short stories called Chekla amadi Khonglembi in the year 2005

Tele plays she acted

She also acted over seven tele plays including Shambaldi Leihouri, Ipam Lamdm Lamnungshi, Changyengduda etc. She also acted over 100 Radio plays among which Jahera, Chahi Taret Khuntakpa, Basantagi Ningallamdai can be mentioned.

“Although I take the role of a mother in films due to growing age, I still act as Heroine in Radio plays as radio plays are not visible to audience except audio sound. Good script helps an artiste to climb the ladder of success in the field”, Hemabati said she is still highly acclaimed for her character of a widow named Poda in the tele play Changyengduda.


Acknowledging her contribution in the field of art, Film Academy Manipur (FAM) conferred her with Best Supporting Actress Award of the 5th RJ Film Vision Special award 2011 organized in connection with the 6th foundation day of FAM.

She is working as an inspector at Economics and Statistic department, Government of Manipur. She joined the wok in 1979 and will retired on 2017 on superannuation.

She plans to spend her remaining days of life singing

When asked as to how she is planning to spend her days on superannuation, Hemabati replied, “I have started learning singing under famous singer Asem Boimola to spend the days of my remaining life after retirement from the job. Asem Bimola’s Chita Thakki Kundo Pareng and Lairabibi Hainei Ima Nangbu penned by MK Binodini are my favourite songs, she said.

One should be well disciplined if he once joined in the world of Art. Budding Artistes should respect the seniors and vice-versa. Nowadays, discipline is not properly maintained among the artistes. This will bring adverse consequence among the artistes, she cautioned. Since acting is based on reality, hard practice is necessary for artistes, she added.

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