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

Meghachandra Kongbam
Contd from previous issue
The Cine Policy does not reflect any methods for earning large revenue of the State Government from the FILM sector in the form of entertainment tax
Besides non-implementation of policies and programmes of the film sector initiated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; the Art & Culture Department of Manipur has so far not received any projects/schemes and funds for FILMS provided by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for the last 40 years since 1980.
Current status of film industry
FILM PRODUCTION started in Manipur on April 9, 1972 with the Manipuri feature film-Matamgi Manipur. During the celluloid period from 1972 to 2014, Manipuri film industry produced only 64 films, as per record of the Central Board of Film Certification.
The digital film started in Manipur in 2016 with the release of Paban Kumar's Loktak Lairembee. With 3 films in 2018, 12 films in 2019 and 3 films in 2020; total digital films so far produced in Manipur were 19 only.
FILM EXHIBITION started in Manipur before the World War II. In 2000, there were more than 60 cinema halls in Manipur.
With the advent of Cable TV and Video as well as the ban on Hindi films in the State, the number of cinema halls sharply decreased due to lack of patronage from the Government.
In this Digital era, where all the mass communication media- Press and Electronic media like Radio and TV had switched over to digital technology, there is no single cinema hall in Manipur having digital cinematographic apparatus. According to 'Theatres List" uploaded by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on its website for empanelment of Digital Cinema, Assam has 71 cinema halls, Meghalaya has 5, Tripura 4, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim 2 each, Nagaland 1. Manipur and Mizoram are not in the list.
Can we say that Manipur has a vibrant film industry without a visible market ?
FILM INDUSTRY is not only the major provider of employment to the youths and a great platform for enhancing human talent and creativity but also a major source of revenue for the Government. There were around 10,000 persons working in the production sector and 3000 in the exhibitor sector in Manipur. The State Government could earn more than Rs one crore as revenue from the amusement tax in 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98. And now, it is almost zero.
Conclusion : In view of the deteriorating situation of Manipuri Film Industry and the failure of the Art and Culture Department in dealing with the subject of FILM, there is an urgent need to bring back subject of FILM from the Art and Culture Department to its original Department of Information and Public Relations to streamline the proper working on FILM in the State in coordination with the Ministry concerned. Setting up a Manipur State Film Finance and Development Corporation Limited is also urgently called for a vibrant film industry in Manipur, in the same line of National Film Development Corporation Ltd in the Centre and State Film Development Corporations in other States. Without a Film Finance Corporation, the film industry in Manipur cannot be visible.
Recently, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 23, 2020 approved to merge four of its film media units, namely Films Division, Directorate of Film. Festivals, National Film Archives of India, and Children’s Film Society, India with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) Ltd under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Here lies the importance of a State Film Development Corporation in Manipur.
The umbrella organisation, NFDC, consequent upon the merger of Film Media Units will be uniquely placed with regard to promotion, production and preservation of filmic content – all under one management. The vision of the new entity will be to ensure balanced and focused development of Indian cinema in all its genres-feature films, including films and content for the OTT platforms, children’s content, animation, short films and documentaries. With more than 3000 films produced in a year, India is the largest film producer in the world with an industry led by the private sector.
Is Film a medium or an art form? Yes, it is a medium- the most powerful medium which belongs to the Department of Information and Public Relations. Save Manipuri Film Industry.
The writer is a Swarna Kamal Awardee for Best Film Critic of National Film Awards 2015, a member of FIPRESCI-India (International Federation of Film Critics-India), President of the Film Society of Manipur and former Director of Information and Public Relations, Government of Manipur