Monday, November 23, 2009

At least 5 AR including a Major and a Captain killed in Ambush at Somtal area

Information Service News (2.30 pm. Monday)
Two days after IGAR South AK Choudhury declared that there are no permanent camps of the Underground groups in the state and their activities have been controlled, well armed militants strike again killing more than five personnel of Assam Riffle including a Major and a Captain.
Source says, well armed cadres of the proscribed UNLF came down heavily to the convoy of 43 Assam Rifle at Somtal area in Chandel at around 9 .15 on Monday morning. The Assam riffles were coming in two vehicles – a gypsy and a truck. At least five personnel of the AR travelling in the gypsy including a Major and a Captain were killed on the spot. The Major has been identified as Bhupender Mehra and the captain is also been identified as R. Kumar. The identities of the other deceased are yet to be established.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

JN Hospital staffs to submit mass resignation against disparity of pay

Information Service News
Imphal, November 8; State government decision to upgrade JN Hospital to JNIMS is adding another major headache to the Okram Ibobi Singh led SPF government as doctors and of the hospital decides to submit massive resignation against disparity of pay between them and the newly inducted doctors. Staffs of the hospital decided to go protest after JNIMS doctors were provided pay which is similar to that of the 6th pay commission when nothing has been done for the doctors of the hospital with similar grades.
A press statement issued by the JN Hospital Employee Welfare Association says that staffs and doctors of the hospital will begin protest from November 9 by wearing black badge. From 10th to 13th of November all staffs will take casual leave for four days. Later, all staffs will tender mass resignation on the November 21.
Staffs of the hospital have been demanding similar pay for similar work for similar grades. After up gradation of the hospital the state government has issued an order to place the JN Hospital and its staffs under the controlling authority of the Director JN Institute of Medical Sciences. Earlier, the staffs had submitted a memorandum to the Medical Council of India for absorption of all the doctors to the Medical College. Even as JN Hospital doctors are very much employees of the JN Institute of Medical Sciences newly inducted doctors of the institute were drawing higher pay than their similar grade counterparts of the Hospital. Later, on October 15 the JNIMS doctors were once again increase their pay which is as good as entitlement of 6th pay commission.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hospitals and Clinics Paralyze for 3 hours as doctors protest

Imphal, October 28, Wednesday
Hospitals and Clinics paralyzed for three hours on Wednesday as doctors and staffs went protest against the killing of their fellow colleague Dr. Huidrom Binodkumar Singh.
Doctors and staffs of JN Hospitals, RIMS, Shija Hospital staged sit-in-protest in from of their respective hospital premises. The protest which was organized under the aegis of the Indian Medical Association began from 11 am and ended at 1 pm. During the protest patients faced extreme hardship as doctors refused to treat them. However, emergency cases were allowed for treatment.
The dead body of Dr. Huidrom was found at Ishikhapat near Yumnam Patlou about eight kilometer north east from Heingang police station on October 22 morning. The dead body bore several stabbed mark probably murdered in cold blood.
The 60-year old former medical superintend of Bishnupur district, Doctor Huidrom Binodkumar was a resident of Yaiskul Chingakham Leikai, Imphal. He was found murdered after he withdrawn Rs. 2 lakhs from his bank account on the previous day.
Earlier a Joint action committee was formed and called a 24 hour total road blockade on the stretch of NH-39 from Yaiskul to Singjamei from the midnight of October 22 demanding punishment of the culprits involved in the killing of the doctor.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

State Scribes Surrender Identity Cards; Prepare For More Agitations

Imphal, October 27.
As a part of the ongoing protest by the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, state scribes on Tuesday surrender their identity card issued by the Directorate of Information and Public Relation.
At around 11 am members of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union gathered at DIPR complex in Imphal and surrender their card to the Director of DIPR T Shitlhou at his office room. Director Shitlhou tried to stop the journalists from surrendering the card and requested them not to take up such action. He further said it did not matter if the Journalists surrender their I-Card but he would not receive it. The Journalists justifying their stands without listening the director’s request kept their identity card one by one on the table of the director. The director however went out as soon as the scribes started surrendering their cards.
The All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, AMWJU has been protesting assault of two reporters by Police Commandos on the night of October 10 while they were returning home. Demanding appropriate action to those police commando personnel, media house based in Imphal has been boycotting all news related with the ruling Secular Progressive Front government. In the regard seven members of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India through the governor of the state Gurbachand Jagat Singh. Spokesperson of AMWJU A Mobi while speaking to media said the Journalists’ Union would even surrender the Press Club Office to the government if they remain silence to the demands of the scribes. On November 1, the day the Directorate of Information and Public Relation is celebrating the Information day the Journalists’ body will organize a rally and hold a protest demonstration in Imphal.

Below is the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister of India.

The Hon'ble Prime Minister of India
New Delhi

Subject: In the matter of harassment of journalists by Manipur police and the State

Hon'ble Sir,

We would like to bring to your kind notice the continued harassment of journalists by Manipur police and the state government against the backdrop of the sorry state of affairs in Manipur and state's apathy towards such incidents of harassment.

As you understand, Manipur is a conflict zone. And journalists are facing tremendous pressure from both state and non-state actors with little maneuvering space. However, the journalists' community has been responsibly discharging its duty delicately balancing the spirit of the freedom of press with its commitment to the laws of the land and responsibility to the people. We honestly believe, a sane and informed person like your esteemed self would understand the plight of journalists in a conflict zone like Manipur.

In the recent past, the state government had been trying to browbeat journalists in Manipur into submission with threats of de-registration and state action compounded by an arrogant state police force, already infamous with widespread allegations of staging numerous fake encounters, the most recent being the July 23, 2009 incident of Imphal Khwairamband Keithel, wherein a young housewife and a former militant were mercilessly killed in an alleged fake encounter.

The most recent cases of intimidation of the press are storming of some media houses in Imphal by goons of chief minister Shree Okram Ibobi Singh's home constituency of Thoubal with active support from the state police force on 25 September, 2009; and threatening of two journalists returning home from duty at gun-point on the night of 10 October 2009.

On the night of 25 September 2009, ten busloads of supporters of the chief minister escorted by the state police force stormed some prominent media houses and threatened them with dire consequences if they did not publish their version of the statewide protests against fake encounters.

On the night of October 10 2009, two journalists returning home from duty were singled out and waylaid at Bir Tikendrajit Road point of Imphal city by the infamous police commandos. Upon demands for identification, the two journalists produced their identity cards identifying themselves as members of the press. However, they were separated and questioned. One of them was kicked in the butt and threatened to be shot with a cocked gun. The police commandos threatened the journalist that he could always be shot and explained later on that he was killed in an encounter and nobody would care about it.

The All Manipur Working Journalists Union Manipur (AMWJU) condemned the incident and demanded prompt action against the errant police commandos. However, the senior superintendent of police of Imphal West district issued a statement against the journalist community with wild allegations of drunken behavior and nexus with the insurgents.

Upon which, the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) convened a special General Body meeting which condemned the police statement and demanded transferring of all the officers in the chain of command of Imphal West District. The meeting also decided to boycott the state Chief Minister and his colleagues including government handouts relating to development, and also not to sit for negotiations with the state government, till some visible action is seen.

The boycott began on 13 October 2009. However, the two victim journalists gave their verbal statements to the Chief Minister himself on 16 October 2009, upon his request and assurance of some visible action. Yet, the state government have not taken up any action in this regard, till date.

It is worthwhile recalling that, the chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh has himself accused the state police of misinforming him about the July 23 incident in Imphal city, in which a passerby Rabina Devi, seven month pregnant and former militant Ch. Sanjit were killed by police commandos in an alleged fake encounter.

Yet, the state government is once more playing into the hands of the state police force and putting up a confrontationist attitude towards the journalist community of Manipur. We humbly pray to your esteemed self to prevail upon the state government to punish the errant police commandos and to set into motion corrective measures towards reforming the state police force into a disciplined force.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

(S. Hemant)
President, AMWJU

Copy to:
1. His Excellency the Governor of Manipur

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


What should be our tommorow’s women?
What were our women?
How is our women at present?
Do we need a stand?
Ch. Sharat, director of the Forum For Laboratory Theatre, Manipur, commented his critical views under the combined effort of L.Dhananjoy, Chana Lukhoi, Rajmani Ayekpam, Lokendra Arambam by utilizing the lone energetic actorMiss Akoijam Sobita Devi:
Forum for Laboratory Theatre of Manipur’s dynamic efforts to waking up the slumbering oppress women of the present day Manipuri society through its latest production ‘Tomorrow’s Women’ is a matter of subject to everyone concern. The play has not only portray the obscure and oblivious problems of the contemporary women of this society but also implant a plausible hopes of ray for struggling the dark side that, they have been experiencing since the nostalgic past to the present days. Moreover, the director’s wisdom, in using a single energetic actor to portray the present day societal structure had given a new taste to the theatre fans of this state. Single actor performance is not new for the western performers but for Manipur he is the first to experiment.The fifty minutes play, at which a tireless actor pictured the intense pain and suffering of the contemporary women; by keeping the audience intact alerting their minds to ‘what next’ have indeed proved the skill and integration of the production team. The comparison of the traditional Manipuri women and the present day women, who are immensely influence by the so-called modernization or in the other word who are influenced by borrowed culture, is indeed fantastic. Even two performers at a single platform might confuse the audience. However, the lone performer easily made understood what is wanted to depict, without much difficulty. Since, time immemorial women are most of the time put as commodities by their male counterpart; they are considered sometime as their cook, or sometime as their slaves. However, the traditional Manipuri women had no complaint; they tolerated and spared all their energy for a better and prosperous future society. But as the instrument of legitimate violence to some of the authority has been provided the tolerance shifted towards another direction.The coming of armed soldiers with license to torture any people of this land seems unbearable to them. They came out with torch in their hand to struggle the changing face of inhuman tortured to them. But many times they fail and fall as a victim of indecencies. ‘Tomorrow’s Women’ (Hayengee Nupi) of Ch. Sharat had reminded us about many women who were raped and torture by the Indian Security Forces in the name of wiping out insurgencies. The case of Ahanjaobi, Pramo and Monorama etc. is once again brought to the forum for discussion. The play has also reminded us about the many unfortunate women who have to struggle for survival disregarding their values of dignity. The emergence of flesh trade and many other are logically notice from this play.The bizarre part of the actor’s performance appears when she came down from the proscenium floor, putting a riddle to each and every spectator about what they are up to make a move after witnessing the extreme form of exploitation to women. This was preceded after she shows with all her potentials on committing episodic exploitation on women of this society step by step until the tolerance reach beyond limits. The later portion of the play is even more thrilled to bringing realization of the present Manipuri society. And putting a catastrophe end by propagating courage to every spectator and to fight against all odds and evil at every woman, the actor had successfully reflected the message that the Ch. Sharat, director of the “Forum for Laboratory Manipur” wanted to deliver. There are other things noticed, as to the vision of this writer it was not only the director or the team of playwrights like L. Dhananjoy, Rajamani Ayekpam , Lokendro Arambam and the director himself, for the successful production but rather an anguish of an actor. There is something else that is supposedly important to learn from this production. Many plays have been highlighted portraying the societal conflict and problems that are based on true events. At most of such plays the audiences watch all what they performed; which were/are not merely a joke; they read newspaper where the extreme atrocities on women are committed and many others facts and reality, however, they remained as a silent spectators with just an applauses or with a good comment after witnessing them. They remain at home without wanting to utilize what they have been provided to ponder upon. However, in this production “Hayengee Nupi” the actor shows that this was not merely a performance; it is now high time for everyone to understand the pains and sorrows that the women of this society are facing. This is indeed the neo Contempory theatre of Manipur.‘Tomorrow’s Women of the Forum for Laboratory Theatre, Manipur is no doubt a successful production, however, a deep look into the authenticity of the play has revealed certain pessimistic views of the director or perhaps the production team. The story line itself is somewhat one sided. The team seems to have forgotten that there are also many male counterparts in this trouble prone state of Manipur who have commited their life fighting against all forms of atrocities against women. It would have been much appreciating if the production team took a final look within them and remember that, most of the production teammate is male. Imagine if an outsider who in case happen encounter the play, he would certainly underestimated each and every male folk of our society, he would never believed that certain brave men like – Hijam Irabot, Arambam Somorendro, and of course the director of the play and those playwrights who took deep concern on the status of women and various other social activist are born in this state .It is a fact that, the ailment and the predicaments in family through the spread of HIV/AIDS, the physical and mental torture from marital discords, and the pain and the sheer violation of dignity of women through rape and torture, the loss of sons and daughters through ethnic and violence which was shown in the play has indeed shattered away the prestigious status of the present day Manipuri women. However, by excluding the roles of the male folk, who were involved in struggling for the rights of the women in this present society the play has certainly mislead the audience. This is just a personal opinion.What is more provoking is the input of visual footage of the contempories day using modern video equipments. Indeed, theatre audiences are sensitive class; and understanding this, the director has rightly and timely input video supplements. The last part at which the lone actor pulls down many colour cloths is very significant. This was during the falling action of the play. It is some kind of lesson taught to the audience. From sociological perspectives the importance of ‘endogenous’ development at which modernization does not necessarily required to borrow culture from other society and this is well made understood. While the actor pull out all the cloths hanging which represent the borrowed cultured is easily made understood. It also tried to gives their ideological concept of development which
are purely base on the culturing of the own traditions of the society.As a whole the production is a real success except some minor expectation. Though, the fifty minutes long performance of the actor had captured the audience without a blink in their eyes, the stage sets and properties are simple. With such an energetic actor, the director would surely try to extract more energy which was still seen hidden to this actor.At this juncture, when a Manipuri Women had been going on a fast-unto-death agitation for removal of Armed Forces special power act 1958, after 11 civilian including women and children were gun down by security personnels (malom massacre), and where an arrested women in charge of having connection with underground organization was tortured and gun down in their custody after being raped time and again (monorama tragedy) it is now high time to ponder upon Ch. Sharat’s Tomorrow’s women. It would certainly be wrong to considered the play as a piece of show to exposed the artistic talent at which a person can take rest with an appreciative applauses but rather the truth of this present day. This playhad its premeir show at MDU Hall, and had been shown at many places including the National School of Drama , New-Delhi and the team had had successfully rendered their objects to the audiences present their. “ It was shocking to learnt the present day situation of women in Manipur” commented a social activist based at Mumbai who happen to watch the play. Indeed, Sharat and his team’s production Hayengi Nupi (Tommorow’s Women) is timely and would be worth discussing time and again at other forum too, other than just enjoying as a piece of show.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bomb fitted at a car found at Raj Bhavan

Proscribed KCP MC fitted two powerful bomb at a maruti 800 car inside the high security zone Raj Bhavan complex. The bomb was trace by a team of state police force and central agency at around noon today (Friday) after a massive haunt. According to information the silver colour car bearing registration number MN01 W 5048 enter the Raj Bhavan premises around 10. 55 am today. The bombs were found by the security around 12 noon. the bomb was safely taken out and defuse at the police trianing center at Pangei.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BEYOND ILLUSION: Stalemate Between Screwy Bullets

(…….chingda satpee engelei,
…….. chinnadana kenkhibee……
….…..Eina kenge kendedo…
……... malangbana humbada ……
………ho kenbane…….)
Centric to the essence of this classical Manipuri folk song, which emphasize the end of an immatured blooming orchid of the hill, blown away by the blowing wind, Kalakshetra’s young but energetic and potential director cum performer heisnam Tomba, though his deep understanding of reality and myth has aesthetically presented the existing fate of the ‘lambam’ living in this trouble prone state of Manipur in particulars and the world in general, at his production ‘KANGKHATHANG’ ,which literally meant ‘useless sword’ or ‘not admissible to anywhere’.
Claded with indegeneeous cultural uniqueness accumulated from this soil,the auditorium of Kalakshetra which they called ‘Studio theatre’ locates right at the foothills of Langol range;a few minutes drive from the bedlam world of Imphal town. As we reached the culturedom, a warm recieption from the Kalakshetrarians made us sure that, we are certain to see the waiting hall wandering about theentrance to the studio theatre, Heisnam Tomba, the director of the play KANGKHATHANG, whowas also performing as an actor at the play came out with a gong(sembung) leading us all to their studio.We know the play beguns as ‘the son of kalakshetra’s stimulated all his energy to capture our attention. Gibing remark over the impressive tradition,M. Akshaykumar, member, EZCC,Kolkata said Kalakshetra had born and grown a generation to hand over its tradition. The tradition founded by Padmashree H. Kanhailal, who is not only the founder director of Kalakshetra but also the real father of Heisnam Tomba. Few experts generally term his theatrical tradition as ‘physical theatre’.
The studio theatre of Kalakshetra is a defect proscenium, structured in the form of Manipuri Mandop. Except for the flat performing space which is only a few inches from the first row of the audiences and the dark clothes encircling at the three sides there were nothing to caught the audiences eyes. After everyone settled on their seat, three world class performers on the conventional Manipuri costume, barefooted and without any artificial make-up came out to perform the play. With a bow for blessing the trio began to perform capturing the mind of the audiences without enabling them to blink their eyes.
About the play: A collusion to the uncertainty of a writer,a painter and an actor cast by Mr.Manitomba and the directror of the play H.Tomba under his own write up,respectively had skillfully presented the modus operandi of today’s society and express their greviences the need for realization of every concern authority to bringing a peaceful environment.

The trio schematically presented the present state of the ‘lambam’ or the innocent civilian caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The screwy bullets floating here and there from both authority and the none authority has created a stalemate to the free movement of the innocent public. The power that empowered the authority has ended countless life with a “pheecheeong” from the byonetts of their guns. And the non authority mushrooms to countered by empowering themselves with SLP (self loaded powers). The number of … “pheecheeong..” rise on their game of hide and seek. For each.. “pheecheeong” a life is lost. Life of an innocent human being or life of a ‘lambam’ who are born with lot of promises. Like the orchid of the mountain range that was blown away by the terrible wind before being used for useful proposes many life ended without completing their jobs. The actor’s frustration of the unfriendly wind blown from the northern block,and the anguish of the writer to the bedlam situation with simultaneous expression of painting by the painters had brought reality of world in just about 45 minutes.
The vibrating body gesture of the actor along with various touching dialogues is no better than the writer’s energetic skill to arrest both body and mind of the audiences. Neither does the painter lack any attention of the audiences that heals both their body and mind through his heart throbbing tune of ‘PENA’(a violin type indigenous instrument) along with his sweet vocals.
The play itself is the description of his painting that begins along with the play and completed with the end of the play.
Even though, the trio world class performer of Kakakshetra were invincible performing artists, as the saying goes on- “Nobody is perfect except the supreme spiritual head of the Universe”, they sometime fail to conceive perfectionism to their body gesture to the expectation of the audiences. Small problems face by the actor while getting up directly due to poor practice of physical exercise and the uncontrol statue figure of the writer with the same physical problem is one factor. Perhaps, this was due to the proximity of the audiences and the performers that enable us to look from the closest distance.
Maintenance of space by the trio was excellent as they occupy every nook and corner purposely. However, when the trio occupy whole of the performing space, it create confused to the audience to observe one at a time due to the proximity of the performers and audience gap. Rather the one who find seat at the extreme corner definitely find problems to feel the reality. For these a triangular sitting arrangement is perhaps required so that every audience get satisfaction.
However, overall views on the p-lay ‘Kangkhathang’ which is produced under the scheme of grant-in-aid to individual for specific performing project for2004-05 by the Deptt. Of Culture, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Govt. of India is a total success of young Director Heisnam Tomba, the blooming legacy of Kalakshetra and the pride of Manipur .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A dialogue on Proscenium Theatre:

Like any other organs of mass media, proscenium theatre is very much a part of our life. The illustrators in this medium are as tough as those of the newsmakers. Like, the newsmen, who harness all their energies to alert or make aware of the day today happenings around us, these proscenium players forecast the reality of the present contemporary society. However, a slight difference between the two is that, while newsmen condemn the venality of politicians, law enforcers and corrupt administrators in the form of direct reporting or editorial write up; the proscenium players interpret the retrospection of the societal conflict and tension with stylization of the body movement and dialogue. However, this intrapersonal oral medium of communication cannot rally its impact to the society without the help of newsmen due to the limitation of its receivers. The paradox arisen here is that, this society still does not recognize the importance of this medium of mass media - on its roles on reforming the society. The ignorance of the theatre culture as a source of wisdom by the so-called bureaucrats or politicians is the most unfortunate part.
The entry of proscenium theatre during the beginning of 1900 A.D. to the soil of Manipur, brought by the than colonial rulers to impact the societal culture for their administrative conveniences, perhaps turns as a boon rather than serving their purposed. The beginning was indeed strategic; people were almost influenced by the language and cultural tradition performed by the artists. It was well noted by scholars and theatre critics like Professor N. Tombi, Prof L. Damodor, Dr. Lamabam Gojendro etc. that, since, proscenium theatre was first performed in this state during 1902, the popularity of this art grows far and wide. Bangali language, which was preconcievely accepted as the language of theatre, became popular among certain section of people of those days. People who assumed themselves as elite class were proud to use the language in addition to their mother tongue to show off their living status (there might also be other reason to let the people think themselves as member of a well to do family by using Bangali language). The performers who were brought by the colonial administrators had different plan rather than serving the purposed. The mind of an artist always differs with those of the policy maker. Indeed, performers always felt the soft corner; they were mostly driven by emotions. And it does make surprises as this medium turns as a lesson to the people of this land; to learn the love their culture. The logic behind the introduction of proscenium culture need not to go deeper, as it is a matter of records.

However, those colonial administrators, never did realized that the rich culture of this soil with a long traditions of performing different kinds of art form such as; lai haroaba, mukna kangjei, khulang eesei, maibi jagoi etc. at which even the coming of the ‘Vaisnav’ culture, during 18th century AD, could not demolished its richness other than adaptation. That is one reason at which the people of this land began to utilize proscenium culture for their own caused.
Instead of dissolving their mind and soul to the art brought from outside, the highly potential artist, playwrights, and directors started performing the original context of this land. For instance, in 1922 Lairenmayum Ibungohal wrote NARA SINGH, in 1924 Dr. L. Kamal wrote DEVJANI, in 1930 Sorokhaibam Lalit wrote SATI KHONGNANG and ARREPPA MARUP, in 1931 and 1935 Arambam Dorendrajit wrote MOIRANG THOIBI and BHAGYACHANDRA, in 1939 Hijam Anganghal wrote POKTABI IBEMMA, etc. these are few of the example. All these plays provoked the origin, identity and self-realization to the people of this land. These plays had indeed implanted the concept of self-realization among the common people.
After Manipur regained independent from the British and was annexed to the Indian union on 15 October 1949, theatre trend changes as according to the passage of time. Playwrights, Directors and artist started discussing the societal structure of Manipur. And sometime they started criticizing openly on the colonial-hang-over mindedness of the people of this state. As to the word of renowned theatre critics and scholar, Professor L. Damodor - the later part of 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s heralded Modernisms or Adhunika in Manipuri literature and drama bringing forth new perception and intense awareness hitherto unknown. There was acute consciousness and sensibility of living in a period of crisis in the minds of the writers because of the first changing scenario in the politico-socio-economic conditions, global movement of the youths and above all nihilism. The impact of science and technology, psychology and philosophies for changes swept to Manipur. The indispensable conditions of the times and the dynamics of change are responsible for the metamorphosis of any art form including theatre.
This was the juncture where renown playwright, Gitchandra Tongbra(1913-1996) utilized theatre platform or proscenium auditorium as a forum for discussion, debate and evaluation of the problems of the society and the human condition. To his anguist over the societal phenomena of those days he had written play like ‘Chengni Khujai’(the begging bowl) which pictured the present democratic system, ‘Hingminnaba’ which he discussed on the conflict of the society due to differences of religion. At one of his play ‘ Yaosang Kangou’ he tried the people to think again on the problem of so many festival to this little land.
The invasion of westernization which had greatly affected the traditional Manipuri society was critically analyzed and displayed to public by late Arambambam Somarendro at his plays “Judge Sahib Ki Eemung” (1968), “Leipaklei” (1993), and “Sanatombi”(2001). The playwright has also reminded the people of this state about those forgotten heroes who fight against the Burmese invasion, during seven years devastation period at his play “ Sakkhangkhidraba lanmi” (1989).
The face of Manipuri proscenium theatre changes fast according to the passage of time. From dealing to entertaining factors and cultural enhancement, the theatre trends has directly inclined towards the reality of life. Certain splendoured theatre personality like – Heisnam Kanhailal, Lokendro Arambam and Ratan Thiyam etc., has started neo-contemporary theatres which has emphasized more towards the bringing for peace to this land in particulars and the world in general.
In the word of internationally acclaimed theatre personality, Ratan Thiyam, ‘theatre’ is a composite form of performing art. He further stated, “There is no strict limitation of space for performing this art form”. However, Thiyam’s shows his essence of patriotism and love for human kinds through out his theatre works by compulsorily utilizing the cultural aesthetics of his own land, its myths, legends, cosmic rituals, distilling nativism to universalism propounding his love of humanity, peace and non-violence. On the other hand, ‘drama’ which is a composition of prose or verse adopted to be acted on a stage, in which a story is narrated by means of dialogue and action, and is represented with accompanying gesture, costume and scenery as in real life, is the essential component of theatre, says noted theatre activist Dr. N Premchand. So, literature and aestheticism naturally come as the soul of this performing art. That is why; as for the Manipuri society ‘proscenium’ auditorium is still considered as the approprite conventional platform for this art.
Drama no doubt is a nation’s conscience. It shows what are actually happenings in our society and promulgate the people in realizing their mistake. Quoting what Bertolt Brecth, the great German theatre director cum playwright, Prof. L. Damodor has rightly said that proscenium drama or plays are still a tool for social engineering. It is a performance, which enables the audience to properly understand what is lacking in the society. The changing contemporary theatre production style or in the other word, neo-contemporary plays, besides its effortless work to safe their own traditional culture, has started systematically pointing their finger tips towards the defect of the local administration; aggressiveness of the upper or lower ranking employee of the so-called authority and so and so.
It is worth mentioning how Hiesnam Kanhailal’s controversial play “Droupati” has motivated the women of Manipur to take up extreme form of agitation on 14th of July, 2004 against the brutal atrocity of the Indian Army under the shadow of the ‘Arm forces special power act, 1958. Earlier, this renowned theatre personality had shown the present day society at his play “Pabet”, “Tamnalai’ etc. It was indeed his neo-theatrical invention, which mostly approach towards instinct and intuition that alerts the audiences to the resilience of human spirit in countering the dominant spirit of our time. During the later part of the 1980s how could this society forget the effort of Gyanashyam Kshtri, who had portrayed the corrupt and grotesque system of practice within the various politicians of this state in his play “Election”? How could we ever left aside the solo performance of Miss Ak.Sobita under the direction of Ch. Sharat of Forum for laboratory Theatre at their production “Hayengee Nupi” (Tomorrow’s Women) which had promulgated the women of this society to courageously struggle for their rights. These are just few of the plays cited just for reference.
Manipur has long been suffered from the decade’s old armed conflict between armed opposition groups and the security personnel. The present day scenario happening every single day has paralyzed the movement of every living soul of this state. Many innocents are victims of the gunfight between the conflicting parties. With emotional pain and anger, HeisnamTomba of Kalakshetra, one of the pioneer theatre groups in Manipur, has portrayed the fate of the civilians in his outstanding play “Kangkhathang”. On the other hand L. Kishoworjit, the theatre director of the “Paradise Theatre” has timely presented the translated version of Bertolt Brech’s Mother Courage and her children as “Thouna Phabi Ima” at which he motivated the people of this land the need for survival under extreme tolerance during such a condition.
In quest of peace; a world without war, the world still praise noted theatre director Ratan Thiyam for his play “Uttar Priya Darshi” and his recent productions “Hey Nungshibi Prithibi” (My earth, My Love) and “Nine hills one valley”.
On the other hand eminant theatre scholar, Arambam Lokendro’s “Awang Nongpok lamgee Angangsing” (Children of North East) which he tried the world forum to focus to the problems of the childrens which survived admist wars and crime etc. shows the reality of the present day and give a moment to ponder upon the fate of the childrens of this region which will be the ‘adult’ of tommorrow.
To bring a solution to this conflict trodden state of Manipur within various ethnic communities, re-production of the Arambam Somenrandro’s play “Nungshithel” by Royal Theatrical Club’s director M. Akshayakumar will remain as history forever. There are also many who are worth praising on their contribution to waking up this slumbering society. In such case director of the Deal Repertory Theatre, Khogendra’s productions like ‘Ngairi’ at which playwrights Jatishwore Sharma pictured the present state of contemporary Manipuri society and others like the works of playwright cum director of the Highway Theatre, L. Dhananjoy, director of the Theatre Mirror, Naba Wareppa, etc. had played a tremendous role. If not these theatre activist work hard beside the negligence of the government towards this art form, the so-called culture of Manipur, at which every competent ministers, bureaucrats, or whoever, is proud of while delivering their speech at any public platform would not have found any applauses.
On one hand the changing world has created tension to some of the theatre group like Aryan Theatre, Banyan Theatre etc. The fear of exploitation to this little state from the impact of globalization is mobilized at one Aryan theatre’s play “Ta Kuber” which was written by noted young generation playwright L. Dhananjoy and directed by S. Rajen Singh. Banyan Theatre’s Director, MC Thoiba’s production on MC Arun’s “Rajshree Bheigyachandra” is perfect and timely. The production teams’ enthusiasm in quest of a new leader like Maharaja Bheigyachandra is easily noticed. Professor MC. Arun’s Rajshree Bheigyachandra is indeed a neo-contemporary analysis of the glorious king of Manipur.
If we opened up few pages of our histories, it would not be much difficult to remember how the people of this state owe worthless credit to the theatre activist of Manipur. Theatre had reminded us many of the patriotic events that once we had forgotten.
It is indeed the work of the Theatre activist of the Roomahal which had made the people of this state, recognize 13th of August as the Patriot’s day. The patriotism scenes of our great ancestor who had once sacrificed their life for the cause of their countrymen are brought to live once more by the harness of this theatre personal. Present day Manipuri people now understood the heroic patriotic essence of our forefather Bir Tikendrajit, Thangal General and many others. To add more, the Roomahal Theatre artist pay floral tribute to those departed heroes on 13th of August 1951 at Bir Tikendrajit Park and performed their historical play “Bir Tikendrajit” which was written and directed by noted theatre activist Meitram Bira. Since, that day the curtain of ignorance of the state authority was raised and till today we are able to pay homage to our departed heroes who laid their live fighting for the cause of their motherland’s freedom.
However, this present day society seems to be oblivious to the important contribution of these people.At this crucial time and position, many theater activists of this state work effortlessly to bring up this highly prestigious form of art. For instant, Naba Warreppa President of the Theatre Center Manipur tirelessly organizes theater festival at different rural places from time to time. His theatre group ‘Theatre Mirror’ in association with various theatre organism like ‘SEEMA’of Thoubal, ‘Thanga Artists’ Association’ of Thanga has effortlessly tried to spread the culture of proscenium theatre to each and every nook and corner of Manipur. Revealing the aims and object of spreading theatre culture towards rural sections of this society, Naba Warreppa said, “ Establishment of an open platform where creative dreamers could meet together with their open minds, breaking down the Barrier of differences between the urban and the Rural characters, and opening a new cultural bridge, avoidance of myopic vision which creates Negative attitudes of skepticism, egoism, escapism and nepotism and establishment of an exotic meeting point where the lofty and exquisite ideas of love, peace m harmony and unity could be achieved”. . Naba Warreppa’s Theatre Centre Manipr also organizing Short play competition for creative pay wrights in collaboration with Manipur State Kala Akademi from time to time. Besides, many other theatre organisms like ‘Manipur Dramatic Union’ (MDU), a pioneer of the theatrical movement in Manipur too had given a ray of hope to memorizing the old good work by organizing seminars and theatre festivals. The initiation of discussion on the problems and prospects of Manipuri theatre by these theatre groups was indeed some steps towards recognizing the fact and reality on the contribution of theatre in reforming this society.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tryst with destiny – The unchangeable fate

Director cum playwright Yumnam Rajen of ‘Panthoibi Natya Mandir, Imphal’ is perhaps one of the many person who believed in destiny of life by fate and not by efforts as it had always been depicted by the ancient Greek philosophers. At one of his play, “Taramdai Korou” (The setting Sun) he pictured human destiny as an unchangeable journey. At that play he tried to show that a born unfortunate is always unfortunate till his end. The series of events that is assigned to him will continues as unchanged, though he tried to change that with all his effort. Being experienced for more than 20 or more years in the field of theatre as artist, playwright and director, his simple presentation of arguing his ideological theory at his production “Taramdai Korou” (The Setting Sun) is strong enough to persuade the viewers. What made him different from Greek writer is that his production carried some kind of humors along with the serious story line.

In his production “Taramdai Korou” he depicted about the life of an innocent who was falsely charge for criminal activities and went underground despite being innocent. The male protagonist of his play Thoiba and the female protagonist Leipaklotpi were highly professionals enough to persuade the audiences on what the director want to convey. The story of the play is very simple; some forty years back a robbery occurred at the family owned by one Koireng Apabi of a village called Awangkhul. It was spread that the robbery was masterminded and lead by Thoiba who in reality was innocent. A complaint was lodged against him, and Thoiba had to go underground as police started looking for him at every nook and corner. Hawker by profession, Thoiba was not afraid of any consequences, however, he thought that he had to remain underground and somehow proved his innocence. For that purposed, he took shelter at one of a Hotel at Khwairam bazaar. The Hotel which name was “Popular Hotel” was one of the most popular hotels of those days and the name itself signifies. It was owned by one Khoidongsana and Leipaklotpi; an unfortunate spouse who has failed to conceive even once, though both wishes and tried many times. Both the husband and wife treated Thoiba as one of their family members. His sincerity and hard works was empathized by Leipaklotpee and started worrying about his health. Sometimes she comforts him by serving tea or talking to him even at late hours as she did not have any bad feelings towards him. Their relation was like brother and sister. Thoiba’s presence at the Hotel, and his proximity with Leipaklotpi made suspicious to Koidonsana. As the much talk about ‘illicit relationship” between his wife and Thoiba reached his ear. Koidongsana has reason to believe. His wife was eager to conceive which had failed for many times. At one unfortunate day, Koidongsana happen to encounter both his wife and Thoiba in a suspicious manner. The reality was Leipaklotpi was simply trying to help Thoiba on brotherly sense but their closeness assure Koidongsana of the talk about relationship. That was the moment Thoiba was expelled from the hotel. Since, then Thoiba remained hidden at a far away village to escape from his disastrous fate. On the other hand Leipaklotpi was also drop out by her husband on the charge of being an unfaithful wife. She had to live; however, she was not welcome to anywhere. At last while struggling for survival she started living a life of prostitution. The young and beauty was so attracted that it did not take long for the buyers to rush for her. But youthful age didn’t last long. Her beautiful body became shrunken as time passes and no sooner she was thrown as a rotten commodity.

Thoiba had stayed long at a village where nobody knows. He even stayed far from the village in solitary cantonment. His place was where travelers sometime used to shelter for a night or so. And the villagers felt respect for this old man who had an extraordinarily different character. They don’t have the gut to question about his life.
However, one day destiny had brought Leipaklei to his place in awful condition. She was so changed that people treated her as mad women, above all people tried to throw her out on the filty smell carried by her. With all short of pick up wastages she too took shelter for a night at the hut of Thoiba. After long conversation both began to know about one another. The happy moment at the wee hour cheers them for a while. However their fate is somewhat different. The sun was yet to set and a team of police came. Thoiba was identified and arrested by the team. Leipaklotpi along with the villagers waited for his return but again the setting sun symbolized that he is no longer to come back again.
The story is simple; one would certainly wonder how this could be shown at a proscenium stage. However, that too seems not a hindrance for director Yumnam Rajen. His concept of establishing a scene that would persuade others of what he thought of life was indeed worth praising. After all, both the male and female protagonist who were caste by K. Kuber Singh and G. Kalpana Devi were highly train. Just their few minutes glimpse with the audience would not let anyone escaped from their show. Other artist like H. Jyenta, Bhagirath Ningthouja, Dr. A Shyam, Sunand Yambem, Y. Mohendro, G, Bonny Sharma, Th, Chandraban, H. Gourakishwor, Bapin, Tolentompok, Gobin, Iboyaima Romen, Shilleima Chanu, Y. Shachibala Devi and Anju Devi had performed to their best level. It was there integration that had made the play a successful one. However, if we go a little deeper these artists still need a lot of homework. For example in the first scene, when the villagers came to present some gift to Thoiba something uncomfortable form of language was used. It was understood that the director wanted them to pronounce in that way so as to make sure that they are villagers. However, there is lack of authenticity. It would have been much better if they spend at Kakching or Andro or Sekmai if they did want to use such form of language.
Though the production was not bad sometime it is confused why the director cum playwright wanted to persuade others on his ideology that fate cannot be change. It would certainly discourage the youth to try hard for their future. It was very unfortunate that the well known playwright who had already wrote more than hundreds of play didn’t think of that impact. May be it might be true but sometime it is necessary for scholars to remain silence on certain matters which would not do any good for the society.