Northeast needs to be provided special funds for filmmaking: Manipuri director


New Delhi: Manipuri movie maestro Aribam Syam Sharma, for whom a special retrospective will be held at the 46th IFFI, is glad that films from northeast India are finding increased presence at film galas in the country. He however says filmmakers from the region need financial support from the government to make more movies.

Sharma hopes the government will do more than just getting films from the eight states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim — screened at fests.

“We need financial help. The National Film Development Corporation of India (the central agency established to encourage the good cinema movement in India) should have special funds for production of northeast films. We don’t just want our films to be screened. To make good films, we must have money too,” he told IANS on phone from Imphal.

This, he stressed, will especially encourage talented people from the region.

“There are eight states, but we don’t have a market as such. If I can make internationally recognised films, it means that we have the potential. We just need funds,” said Sharma, whose film “Imagi Ningthem” received the Grand Prix at Festival des Trios Continents, Nantes, France, in 1982.

At the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which begins in Goa from November 20, 14 of Sharma’s films like “Imagi Ningthem” and “Matamgi Manipur” will be screened.

He believes that if more northeast films can be aired on national broadcaster Doordarshan, the producers will be able to at least recover their money.

“Doordarshan pays well and also telecasts films. If a film is shown on the channel, the producers get around Rs.20 lakh. This way they can recover money,” he said.

Sharma also hopes that the government revives the commissioned programmes that were once done for the northeast.

“There used to be commissioned programmes by Doordarshan for northeast. But now it has been cut off. It used to be helpful. If that is revived, youngsters can also get money and shoot films. It’s been about two to three years since they discontinued,” he said.

“In other places, people get money through advertisements by companies. In northeast, there are hardly any big companies to advertise,” added the filmmaker, who welcomes the idea of setting up film institutes in all eight states.

Despite all the obstacles, he is geared to shoot another film.

“I won’t reveal much, but it will be a good story…it will have a realistic style, something that I am best at,” said Sharma, who chaired the 13-member Feature jury for selection of films to be screened at the Indian Panorama section in the forthcoming IFFI.

Talking about the films that made it to the list, he said: “The films were not selected on the basis of language or region. We chose the best films that can represent India on an international level.”

Films as different as Bollywood’s blockbuster “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” and Marathi film “Court”, which is India’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the upcoming 88th Academy Awards, as well as Bengali films like “Sohra Bridge”, “Cinemawala” and “Kadambari” will be screened at the 11-day gala.

(Natalia Ningthoujam, IANS)