Cult film by an eminent filmmaker

Rare film

Manipuri film Ishanou (1990) by Aribam Syam Sharma, was screened on Friday at India Habitat Centre.

Like many other cultural programmes the cultural body holds, this too was a part. Nearly every weekend there is a film, usually rare, available for the audience to view for free. Ishanou is again one of the rare films in India which reminds one of the bygone days of parallel cinema in the country. Though the film has received the grandest recognitions and has won numerous national and international awards, (official selection for ‘UN certain regards’ section at Cannes Film Festival) the audience were mostly a
section of Manipuri students and community members. Some film enthusiasts were also seated in the audience.

The film was projected on medium sized square white board and as the cast crew names disappeared the film told a gripping tale of a family in a small town in Manipur.

The film tells the tale of a woman in a harmonious family who gets chosen to be part of the Meibi tribe. Her family discovers this when on a one fine day she suffers bouts of unusual fits and angst which drive her to the ashram of Meibis. A superstitious belief or tradition it is hard to tell, but no one chooses to be a Meibi. And the popular belief is that it is a spiritual calling and God chooses them. Hence  Ishanou, the name means 'the chosen one'.

Meibis cannot live in a normal society and only live with other Meibis who perform regular rituals in accordance with the traditions.

In 1990 when such a tale was told it would have been considered a cult classic, telling the story of lesser known tribes and people of the country.

Sharma has been recognised worldwide for his storylines and ideas. Like many artsy directors in the country, who have made films on nuanced topics, he too has a
limited audience.

He has been awarded the Padma Shri and 15 national awards till date. He still makes films at the age of 79. His last film was Leipaklei in 2012.

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