The subject of film : Is it a medium or an art form ?

Meghachandra Kongbam
Contd from previous issue
The Department of Information & Public Relations, Government of Manipur produced six Manipuri documentary films, one reel each in 16 mm namely: 1). Events in Manipur 1971-2, 2) Events in Manipur-1973, 3) Events in Manipur 1974-A, 4) Events in Manipur 1974-B, 5) Events in Manipur 1975 and  6) Events in Manipur 1975-76 directed by MA Singh, a double graduate from Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
MA Singh also made Manipuri newsreels namely- 1) Manipur News 1978 and, 2) Manipur News 1979 each having two reels in 35 mm. The films were recording of the current events in the particular years. MA Singh also made two Manipuri documentaries in 16 mm - 1) Visit of Shri VV Giri, President of India in Manipur 1972  and 2) Ariba Pala (Bangadesh Pala), having a duration of 10 minutes each. All these films obtained censor certificates from the Central Board of Film Certification, Calcutta.
G Narayan Sharma also made a newsreel-Manipur News 1974 and L Banka Sharma made a newsreel -Manipur News 1980 highlighting Yaoshang festival and Khongjom Day Celebration with other developmental activities of the Government.
In 1977, the Department of Information & Public Relations, Government of Manipur produced two documentary films. The films were 1) Towards a better life, 2) 20-Point Economic Programme having 10 minutes duration in 35 mm directed by Aribam Syam Sharma.
A 30-minute Manipuri documentary film- Sanaleibak Manipur directed by Aribam Syam Sharma was produced in 1980. The film shot in 35mm colour covers the general aspects of Manipur with reports on development programmes of the Government.
In addition, to promote and encourage the filmmakers by way of engaging them in the in-house production of films of the Government of Manipur; the Department also encouraged the film producers by giving a subsidy of Rupees 50, 000/- for production of a Manipuri feature film. In the beginning, Rupees 25,000/- was given as subsidy to each selected Manipuri film. Kongbrailatpam Ibohal Sharma was the last producer who received the subsidy from the Department for his international acclaimed film- Imagi Ningthem.
The Exhibition Wing was equipped with 16 mm film projectors, sound equipments and the silver screens. The wing was run by two Cinema Mechanics, four Cinema Operators and four Assistant Cinema Operators. The Exhibition Wing toured the interior areas of the valley and hills of Manipur for organising film shows on moral values and achievements of the Government in order to inform, educate and entertain the masses.
The Film Library of the Department of Information and Public Relations was the biggest film library in Manipur that housed more than 500 documentary and feature films. It was run by a Film Librarian. Most of the documentaries were from the Films Division and Children's Films Society under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Department also bought some good films having moral values for touring film shows. In order to encourage the local producers, the Department purchased the Manipuri feature films like Khonthang, Mayophygi Macha and Chinglensana. The Imphal Cine Club organized a Children Film Festival in 1979 where the organizers hired some valuable films including the silent film- Child and Fish from the Department. Precious films like Rabindranath Tagore's story Chandralika, a documentary on the life and works of the famous tabla player Ustad Alla Rakha, a documentary on the great painter Amrita Sher-Gil were stored in the film library.
The Department of Information and Public Relations was keeping a constant touch with the Central Ministry and the State Governments towards the growth of film industry in the State. The Commissioner or Secretary of the Department is a member of the Children's Film Society which is under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Biennial State Information Ministers’ conference
The State Information Ministers Conference (SIMCON) is being held at New Delhi every two years under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to discuss about various issues on Mass Media-Press, Film, Radio, Television, Outdoor Media, Traditional Media  and others for its development and effective role on informing, educating and entertaining the people of the country. When the growth of the Film sector at the regional level had reached its zenith, viability as an industry, the Ministry considered setting up State Film development Corporations in each State and Union Territories in the pattern of the National Film Development Corporation. As decided in the Biennial Information Ministers' Conference in the latter part of 1970s, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had instructed all the States and Union Territories for setting up State Film Development Corporations to deal with the business of the film industry.
Meeting of Manipur Film Development Council held on 13-11-1980
The meeting of the Manipur Film Development Council held on 13-11-1980 at 3 pm at the Chief Minister's bungalow office was an important meeting in the history of Manipur film industry which took a crucial decision on the transfer the subject of FILM from the Department of Information and Public Relations to the Department of Art and Culture in Manipur.
The then Chief Minister RK Dorendra Singh was in the chair and the members in the meeting were C Doungel, Finance Commissioner; K Kamini Singh, Additional Director of Publicity; Filmmakers-A Syam Sharma, GC Tongbra, MA Singh, SN Chand, K Ibohal Sharma and L Banka Sharma; Film producers-G Narayan Sharma, L Shyamsundar Sharma and H Gehendra Singh; Film artistes- K Tomba Singh and Y Roma Devi; Screenwriter- MK Binodini; Exhibitor-Th Haridas Singh; Film society activists-RK Bidur Singh, Secy of Imphal Cine Club and KB Singh, Secy of Film Society of Manipur. The proceedings of the meeting says,"The meeting recommended that as the State Directorate of Culture has come into existence, the Directorate should be the appropriate Department to deal with the subject and the subject should be transferred to the Directorate of Culture from the Publicity Department''. Perhaps, the then Chief Minister of Manipur was intellectually misguided by some members in the meeting to gain their personal benefits.
The functioning of Manipur Film Development Council under any Department does not violate any Rules under the Constitution of India. It can be done. However, the transfer of the subject of FILM from the DIPR to any Department is gross violation of the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 under the Constitution of India. It is questionable, if some members in the meeting had determined for their personal gain, to spoil the future of film industry in Manipur by disassociating the nodal department in the State from the parent Ministry. In the article-'Whose Directorate Is It Anyway' of his book- Array of Colourful Thoughts, Medley of Images; film critic RK Bidur wrote,"Then without so much as considering anything that had been done in the past years, a few powerful persons put to ruin DIPR's effort and severed all meaningful ties with others".
He further wrote, "Two members of the Executive committee- K Ibohal Sharma and RK Bidur argued against the resolution saying that film and its related issues fallen under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and thus Manipur Film Development Council should also be a part of DIPR of the State under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. But they sidestepped the truth, and as a show of clear self -vestedness and politicisation, the Council was absorbed into the Art and Culture Department.

(To be contd)