To A Shining Star From Manipuri Cinema!

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” - Thomas J. Watson

Well, someone has rightly quoted that failure is a stepping stone to success. There were/are many celebrities across the world who failed in their initial stage of career and struggled hard to achieve their dreams. One cannot ever imagine how the iconic Charlie Chaplin was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt he was not worth for any role in the film industry. World famous writer J.K. Rowling who has rolled out a lot of Harry Potter dough today was nearly a penniless, severely depressed, divorced lady who tried hard to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel and not to forget Oprah Winfrey the most iconic face on Television who is now one of the richest and successful women in the world, someone who started a tough journey then. Oprah had numerous career setbacks that even included being fired from her job as a TV reporter. And from a local context, we do have many struggling artists in our very society. Their untold stories need a space to be told again and again.

Flipping through the pages of my diary, I realized that I missed out certain things worth sharing about a particular artist in question. This column is in continuation to one of the earlier published columns with the title- ‘From Amamba Lambi to Phijigee Mani- The Journey of An Artist’ As I earlier mentioned, he (most of you already know who) is one of the most talked about actors in Manipur Film Industry. He has been profiled as an actor and singer. His fans go crazy about him. Young boys imitate his style. He is a trend setter not just in our film industry but also among today’s youth. He is a big brother for them. On the whole, old and young Manipuri audiences love him for his originality and sincere attitude.

‘I will act till my last breathe' - This is what he has got to tell about acting as a prominent artist in Manipur Film Industry. It was the same day when I had a chit chat with him when he related me all those bitter accounts of his past life. He wore a depressed look sharing the memories of those days when he almost failed in his struggles to become an artist. Poverty further took a toll in his life because of which he could not travel a smooth journey as an artist in his earlier days of career. He blurted out ‘Akhoi emung na fuutlaga chaaraktaba insaang amata leitrey matamduda’ and cried. For a while I could not believe I was having a chit-chat with one of the prominent artists from our film industry. My heart almost broke listening to all his accounts on that day. He did relate me one particular incident when his family was eagerly waiting for him to return home with a few bucks to buy medicine for his ailing father and also to buy food. He returned with just 10 bucks in his pocket on that particular day. I could not help imagining how he might have felt on that day, but it sure pained my heart over the thought for reasons not known. Fighting all the odd battles of life, he has evolved as an artist and also as an individual today. Kudos to him for his courage, patience and strong willpower that have collectively made him an evolved person today.

We are always in the pursuit of something in our lives and for a true artist it’s nothing but the appreciation of his or her true worth as an artist not as a celebrity in a crowd of hundreds or thousands. He has this strong opinion that every artist in our society deserves at least one opportunity to culture his art. He did relate me again and again about how many artists in our society never get a chance to culture their artistic skill set out of poverty. I have this opinion that the society has a primary role to play in shaping the life of a true artist for whom his art is also the means of livelihood. We must try to support or encourage them in whatsoever way we can. Be it singing, acting, dancing or any profession, every artist must be given a chance to culture his skill.

My primary motive of coming up with a similar theme today is to ensure all the budding artists in our society that they can live their dreams only if they do not let the very dreams waver amid the humdrums of life. I do sincerely wish that many promising artists in our society get inspired by Da Bonny’s story (which is not at all imaginary). No matter how rough and tough the road ahead seems, one should never ever give up. Da Bonny puts it in his words ‘punsida singnaba ama thamgadouni’.

Wishing him many luck and success in his life, wishing him all the happiness under the sun on his birthday- which is today. Before I wind up this write up, here is a stolen verse from Da Bonny, who is also a poet in the making-

ahing amadagi ahing ama,
ayuk amadagi ayuk ama;
matam madi chatkhi,
nong nganbani eina ngairiba

Cheers to our Manipuri Cinema’s Shining Star!

This article was published on 27 May 2012

Can We Let Injustice Brood?

“Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression! And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be?”

The above paragraph is an excerpt from the dialogues of a movie called V for Vendetta. Many of you might have watched the movie and for those who haven’t watched it yet, please watch it at least once. I want to relate this excerpt with an obedient consent that we have been often forced to follow in our society. Before I come to the point, let me cite another quote by Adolf Hitler-“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” Let us introspect and co-relate the quote with the most shocking moronic medical report of the century that has stated that Richard’s death was caused by a cardiac ailment. The medical practitioners have come up to such a conclusion that has left us shocked and baffled. Perhaps this is just an example rather an excuse of an obedient consent we are meant to blindly follow BUT only if we are the wisest fools to simply believe it, only if we are MORONS who do not have any thinking capability and only if we cannot act or react. They might have listened to many fairy tales; they might have considered JUSTICE as a myth for the very fact that the norm of democracy is a raucous joke in the country. However, we won’t blindly believe them. We will not call it a quit. We will never quit in fact. The cause should be dragged to courts, more medical researches should be done and most importantly it is high time for CBI to probe into the matter. This is not just for one Richard; this is for many Richards who were killed in the past and also for many Richards who will be succumbed to such inhumane killings. No institution, no medical practitioner should be exempted from any unfair dealing with the cause.

My humble suggestion, as of now, to every concerned Manipuri is to have a firm stand. Let us for the time being stop debating on racism or discrimination. A criminal is a criminal; he does not need a caste or creed to be differentiated from us. Richard’s murderer and any criminal in our community belong to the same league. If we say that it’s a sheer case of racial discrimination, we would be side tracked for the time being. As I mentioned in my previous column, we have graver issues than racism to be dealt with- the irresponsibility of our political leaders being the simplest example to cite. Has Richard’s issue been strongly addressed by our so called Government? Has anything been done so far to pressurize Karnataka Government to conduct a fair research on the medical examinations? No case has ever been filed because we were waiting for the evidence. What kind of evidence are we talking about? The PM report that states Richard probably had a hereditary cardiac ailment? Oh come on, if someone is beaten up black and blue, a cardiac arrest of the victim is pretty obvious. A case of suspect of murder or attempt to murder could have been already filed against the culprits but that is, so far, not done. We were/are raising our voices on social networking sites, we are noticed by National media channels and the issues of Richard & Dana Sangma have made news everywhere. Alright, if it was for the petty sake of making news, I will understand why the campaign of Justice almost successfully failed. I do not intend to discourage the spirit of campaigners but I earnestly believe that when we are fighting for a cause we should not be side tracked. Can’t there be a better time to fight for racism? Can’t we take help of another lawful means to raise our voice against racial discrimination of NE people? We do not provide any legitimacy to mainlanders to discriminate us on any ground but I strongly believe that the issue of racism should be addressed on another platform. This issue needs to gain momentum; we need support from the rest of the Nation. Let us wake up the whole Nation; let us indulge our political leaders; let us incite them up from their slumber. Let us not leave any stone unturned to fight for this cause.

Let us stop saying YES to an obedient consent framed only for political conveniences. If there is no fair court in this country, let us pledge to create one. I am not an activist (do not wish to become one too), I am not a strong voice that is worth to be heard among the hoi polloi; I am not even related to Richard. It’s nothing personal for me but I cannot take this issue lightly. Richard could be my own brother; Richard could be anyone’s brother. We cannot lose our brothers like this as if their lives are worth only a penny. We cannot let INJUSTICE brood, We WANT JUSTICE JUSTICE JUSTICE NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

This article was published 20 May 2012

Racism versus Irresponsibility of Our Political Leaders

You can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink. You can talk and discuss relentlessly on racism but it is next to impossible to cure mainlanders from the chronic disease of racism. In India, the land of gobber and achaar, racism is never ever a personal experience. It runs deep in the vein of each one of us YES I repeat each one of us. Racism is a systematic practice in Indian society that does not exclude any community, region or state. Let us not be surprised to find out that North Indians are racial to South Indians and vice versa. Racism on grounds of look and skin-colour, and racism on grounds of ethnicity are consistently prevailed across the country. If we broadly study on racism as a wide chapter, we will come across many funny observations. To cite a few, most Indian pop icons have light-near- white skin. Most of the Indian stars and celebrities promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s look. Even the matrimonial ads stress on fairness as one additional quality for a to-be bride. Need we be surprised about the general mindset of mainland Indians then? Even we Manipuris are prone to address North Indians as mayaangs and we even tease a black skinned girl or boy at our very leikai as ‘Negro tombi or tomba’. It begins right there. We are equally infected by racism. So, it’s better to keep aside this topic for the time being and focus on a more serious problem perhaps a more boring issue than racism?

Let me begin with quite a simple and relevant example from our day to day lives. When there is a fight among kids at a locality, their parents intervene, scold/console them and settle things. Let us (citizens of Manipur) put ourselves in the shoes of those kids and consider the political leaders as our parents. Where do we stand? I suppose we stand nowhere. We are impoverished and the neglected lots. Need I cite one more example on how our political leaders are so ruthlessly reckless? No beating the bush let me come to the straight point. Guess what? It took him (no wild guess on who is this ‘him’) more than two weeks to probe into the matter of the dead of Richard Loitam. By the time he was partially involved in the cause, the rituals were over and the issue had already gained momentum with thousands of people supporting it across the country. I am afraid whether he was even aware about the news of Richard’s death, I am afraid if he is least bothered about this issue. I am quite ashamed to admit that (starting from our CM) most of our political leaders are so callously irresponsible in many matters of social or political issues though they are too responsible in financial matters. Forget the ruling party; even the opposition party hasn’t played its part. Sometimes, I wonder if I should insinuate the opposition party to raise many issues that could be strong political tools for them to accuse the ruling party. None of my business I know so forget it.

Whatsoever, I seriously OBJECT the lack of sensibility and responsibility among most of the political leaders in our state. And I consider it a much grave situation that racism. Power is addictive to them. They are more treacherous than drug addicts when it comes to power. Their lives are powerfully smooth and hassle free; there isn’t a single room for any kind of problem in their lives. Everything is picture perfect for them …really? I not only despise but pity them too. They have power, they have money so what? Money and power can never buy peace of mind. Trust me; they will forever be alien to mental solace when they become old and feeble. God bless them!

No citizen wants to decry, no citizen wants to fetch complains on Governance but as far as Manipur is concerned are we left with any other choice? Why do we never avail of the chance to adore our own Chief Minister or any of the political parties? Why do we always succumb to their dirty political tricks? Why we are not governed but ruled? Many questions perturb me from time to time and I am tired of finding the answers myself. I seriously find racism a minute issue as compared to the deep rooted problems our society has been facing for all these decades.

Well, with or without the support of our (not at all) adorable political leaders, the campaign for Justice for Richard is making news across the country. And it is also worth to note that a verdict which time has come to be passed cannot be put on halt. This time, it is a strong conviction among us irrespective of which community we belong, which faith we follow. We have been united like never before. But as I humbly requested earlier, let us not restrict the issue of our dear brother Richard to racism alone. From my perspective, the problem is not just racism in our society. It is something graver than racism. This is not the right time to point fingers at mainlanders. Before accusing them of racism, let us first sort out our domestic problem which to me is a more gruesome and disheartening. By and by, let us fight for this cause till JUSTICE is sought!

This appeared on 6 May 2012
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