Manipur film bags national award

Loktak Lairembee focuses on the plight of displaced lake-dwellers

By Khelen Thokchom in Imphal
  • Published 8.04.17
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A still from the film. Telegraph picture

Imphal, April 7: Loktak Lairembee (Lady of the lake), directed by young Manipur filmmaker Haobam Paban Kumar, has won the award for the best film on environment conservation/preservation at the 64th National Film Awards, 2016.

The 72-minute debut feature film, produced and directed by Paban Kumar, is based on the lives of people living on floating huts in Manipur's Loktak lake, the largest freshwater lake in the Northeast. The film is based on a short story written by Sahitya Akademi awardee Sudhir Naoroibam.

The award was announced by the chairpersons of the juries on feature films, non-feature films and best writing on cinema at National Media Centre in New Delhi today.

The award carries a citation, Rajat Kamal and Rs 1.5 lakh each to the producer and director. The award will be presented by President Pranab Mukherjee on May 3.

The citation says, "The film brings out the nuances of an environmental issue in a heart-wrenching and touching manner."

Talking about the film, Paban Kumar said, "Loktak is a unique ecosystem where fishermen live in huts built on floating biomasses. In 2011, the authorities in the name of protecting the serenity of the ecosystem, burnt down the huts leaving thousands of fishermen homeless. The film narrates the sufferings of the lake-dwellers following the government move."

The film tells how Tomba, one of the victims, lives with a harrowing nightmare of looming displacement.

One day, Tomba finds a gun hidden within the biomass. He transforms himself to an assertive man. One day, an elderly lady who mysteriously wanders in the lake, knocks on his door in the middle of the night. He chases her and commits an unintended crime.

Expressing his happiness at the award, Paban Kumar said, "This is the first time in the history of Manipuri film industry that a feature film has won an award in one of the main categories of the national awards."

Loktak Lairembee will have its Los Angeles premiere tomorrow and will premiere in Hong Kong on April 13.

Paban Kumar said, "Decades of insurgency and socio-political uncertainty have thrown my society into disarray, leaving the people to recede into a cocooned existence devoid of any space for free and visible self-expression that evokes compassion and concern for others. Today when I look at my birthplace, I see guns all around."