From Amamba Lambi to Phijigee Mani - the Journey of an Artist

‘Meikhet Maru Ama-tangdi Khetlamba Paami Hougatlakliba Artist Ma-yam Asida Mangaal Macha Amatang Oirasu Piramba Ngamnaba’ – this has become one of my favourite contemporary quotes in Manipuri. Well, this quote is copyrighted and no one shall have the legitimacy to claim it his or hers. My story on the journey of an artist has a justifiable connection with this quote. I am equally glad and proud to share this story with everyone and to acknowledge the identity of this special artist in question.

The story goes this way:

Once upon a time in Imphal, there was a kid who used to loiter around the streets of the town, desperately seeking for a means of livelihood to support his parents and siblings. For a child, who was supposed to play with his friends at the leikai lampaak, he spent his time fighting a fierce battle of survival. Life was a daring challenge for him and his struggling family who cannot afford two meals a day. He spent his childhood worrying about the needs and demands of his family rather than his own.

Hingnabagi laanfamda chilhao thiba yaade — he had proved it many a time during his struggling days as a child and as an adolescent. He started earning a livelihood, working as a labourer (from hajira suba) at a very tender age. Later he started going from one leikai to another selling journals and at one time during his teenage days, he worked as a news hawker. Quite a tough journey for a child with so many ‘erei-turei’ at each and every turn of his life, but he never gave up.

Perhaps, the general knowledge book on Manipur would fail to identify the pioneers of second-hand shopkeepers in Imphal town (among which he is also one). Guess what? He still cherishes the memory of those days when he had to yell ‘yaangkhei yaangkhei’ at the second-hand shop with his friends. He admits, ‘What I am today is just because of what I was then’.

Against all the odds, today, he has won the heart of thousands of his fans in Manipur. He has become the latest craze among the Manipuris. Everyone loves him for his originality and sincerity. A gem of an actor in Manipur film industry and a natural artist, his journey is quite commendable in more than one way. He is a living example of a true artist, who has paved his own way standing firm on his conviction and an invincible spirit. His chingjaoguum lengdraba lingjel and an overwhelming inspiration that he has been continuously seeking from many bitter experiences in his past have so far moulded him to become the true artist he is today.

In the entertainment world, he started in the theatre, and shifted to shumaang leela and later made a stylish entry to the Manipur film industry. A newbie in shumang leela, his first play Amamba Lambi was a super flop (so did he say). From Amamba Lambi to Aruba Echel, which marked a turning point in his career in shumang leela and then to Yaiskul Pakhang Angaoba, one of the most popular Manipuri digital movies in recent time, he has solely defined and proved himself as an inborn artist. Today, it would not be an exaggeration to call him one of the rare ‘Pheejigi Mani’ of the Manipur film industry. Call him Yaiskul Pakhang Angaoba, Yo Sanatombi, Ronald or Thonba, he is one of the favourite stars in Manipur. Kudos to this artist, actor, singer and most importantly, a wonderful person!

He seeks his inspiration from real-life experiences. Sometimes his nephew and sometimes the leipung-famba leikai kids, there are many sources of his inspiration. But most significantly he gives the credit to his Oja-Guru, parents and those hard lessons in the past that have enabled him to become the person he is today.

He feels that there are many struggling artists in our society who need our support and encouragement to culture their artistic skills. He wants to convey a strong message that their inspiration should not wither away simply because they have been born and brought up in families that cannot afford to let them go their way. ‘Meikhet maru amatangdi khetlamba paami hougatlakliba artist mayam asida mangaal macha amatang oirasu piramba ngamnaba’, this is exactly what Gurumayum Bonny Sharma wants to convey to all the budding artists in our state.

We may win many laurels and achieve many things in life. But what counts is how we accomplish those goals. And as they say ‘sanagi magundi meida itlaba matungdadang khang ee’, we should never get discouraged at any walk of our life and move on no matter what, why or how. Interestingly I learned all these from just one single rendezvous with Da Bonny.

PS: Follow the river and you will find the sea: this is Da Bonny’s favourite quote by his father (late) Gurumayum Robindro Sharma, and now one of my favourites too.

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