Keidoubagi Kidoino : Shumang Leela’s reflection on COVID-19

Rajmani Ayekpam
Now-a-days, the whole world is sinking under the fear of coronavirus or Covid-19. This terrible pandemic is threatening the human race trying to erase mankind from this planet. Nobody is spared, from president or king of the country to street beggar. On the other hand, no medicine is effective enough to stop this virus.  The pandemic has taken a very heavy toll on mankind.
After so much of destruction, many countries develop many methods or techniques to fight this pandemic. Besides, vaccines have been developed. However, no vaccine can claim to give hundred percent immunity.
Manipur is as you know is a small State situated at the far east corner of India but  is one of the worst affected States by coronavirus in the whole of North East India.  Government (State) as well as civil society of Manipur tries to defend from coronavirus at its utmost caution.  Many methods or techniques like Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Government’s official instructions  are given from time to time according to necessity of the time and situation. A Shumang Leela entitled ‘Keidouna Kidoino’ produced by the Department of Information & Public Relations (DIPR), Government of Manipuri is coming out as one of the latest means  of Manipur Government to create awareness on Covid-19. Such step is one of the innovative steps taken by Manipur Government besides earlier programmes taken up.
As we know, Shumang Leela is the most loved performing art forms of Manipur. Shumang Leela survives till date with people’s support. Many performing art forms of Manipur are on the verge of extinction even with Government support. However, Shumang Leela survives strongly without the support of Government. Many Shumang Leela artistes earn their livelihood from this art without relying on any other profession. They can maintain their standard of living. You will be surprised that a Shumang Leela artiste in female role can ask Rs five lakh as a transfer fee.
As a powerful media, many Manipur Government’s departments or public sector organizations use Shumang Leela for their awareness programme of many newly schemes taken up. Many street plays on AIDS awareness programme were widely seen. Shumang Leelas on family welfare programme, conservation of forest, veterinary department are also worth mentioning.
Generally, entertainment programmes based on awareness programme is not liked by audience. But, a Shumang Leela performance based on awareness programme is liked by audience due to its strong performance. In Shumang Leela, good story line and strong artistic presence are always there so audience love a Shumang Leela performance. Due to its popularity among masses many Government Departments or civil societies use Shumang leela as a tool for spreading awareness programme.
As another means, Manipur Government used a Shumang Leela production entitled ‘Keidoubagi Kidoino’ to give awareness on COVID-19 among masses. The Department of Information & Public Relations (DIPR), Govt. of Manipur produced this Shumang Leela with much enthusiasm by hiring some of the popular artistes of today.  The premier show was held on 11th August, 2021 at the auditorium of Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, Palace Compound, Imphal.
Shri N Biren Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur, few Ministers and some VIPs attended the premier show by maintaining SOPs. Local cable TV like ISTV, Impact TV and satellite channel like TOM TV gave live telecast. Due to this live coverage, a huge number of people witnessed this premier show. It may be said that this premier show got its objective.
The play Keidoubagi Kidoino was written by Ranjit Ningthouja, one of the most versatile and prolific writers of Manipuri Shumang Leela. No introduction is required. The participating casts and credit of the play were–Naba Wareppa (Consultant), M Shibadutta Luwang (Co-ordinator), S Hemanta (Director), S Robindro (female artiste), K Tomba Meitei (male artiste), Iboyaima Khumang (male artiste), Y Nilachandra (male artiste), Hiramoti Thongram (female artiste), S Deepson (female artiste), Kh Debachandra (male artiste), A Shantosh (male artiste), L Dayananda (male artiste), Nongmaithem Ibomcha (Music Director & male vocal), H Budhi (male vocal), K Sanatomba (female vocal), K Roshankumar, N Tamphasana, A Bikram, RK Jhonson and N Thenao as musicians, P Basanta (sound), S Rajesh (stage & light) and W Khagingamba (musicians).
The story of the play centered around one family i.e. Ibocha, teacher by profession and his wife Ibetombi, son Lingjel, DC and spokesperson of the Government’s awareness programme on Covid-19 and wife Memcha etc. However, the issue of the play has a wider spectrum i.e local issue in particular global in general. A good aspect of this play is the balancing of spices of entertainment and the good information on Covid-19 awareness. Without a strong story line, any play on awareness programme was dry to audience. On the other hand, a play without spices is also dry to the audience.
Playwright of this play, Ranjit Ningthouja is well experienced and knows what is the best to serve to the audience. Strong performance of the artistes like Sougrakpam Hemanta (director & actor), beautiful look and good acting of Hiramoti Thongram, Robindro, Debachandra etc. supported to increase the momentum of this play. Comic element of Shantosh add some spices to the performance. Using of PPE in the play gave not only authenticity in the realistic look but also brought suspense in the course of the play. Moreover, music, sound and light also supported to raise the level of this play.
Lastly, ‘Keidoubagi Kidoino’ not only gives some relief to the pandemic exhausted people of this State but also spread awareness on Covid-19.
On the other hand, it may be said that this Shumang Leela’s bold response to the Covid-19 could not have come at a more opportune moment.