Bollywood ban helped cultural integrity in Manipur: Book

Kolkata: A ban on Bollywood films in Manipur by militant groups has led to cultural integrity in the state, claims a new book.

"The imposition of a complete ban against screening of Hindi movies and listening to Hindi songs also contributed to cultural consciousness and integrity policy to a large extent," writes Manipuri scholar Malem Ningthouja in his book `Freedom from India`.

Ever since September 2000, Hindi films, music and Hindi satellite channels remains banned in Manipur by separatist militant group Revolutionary Peoples Front which alleges that Bollywood goes against Manipuri values.

As the indigenous film industry began to flourish for the first time in the history of Manipur, a new generation of local film stars, choreographers, artists, producers, directors, scriptwriters and lyricists emerged, says the book.

Transcending community boundaries, Manipuri films went beyond attracting audience and making profit as they began serving the public interest.

"Integrity as a visual discourse was repeatedly telecast through the public media... Filming as an institution and profession began the exploration of Manipur and convey the message of integrity to every nook and corner," writes Malem.

Local films, however, continued to act as window to the outside the world besides reflecting the realties of the north-eastern region.

"Films were never aimed at arousing communal sentiment; rather they focused on co-operation, co-existence and mutual respect," says the researcher turned activist, who also runs an NGO, `Campaign for Peace and Democracy`.

Manipuri film stars, singers and musical instrument experts became public celebrities and people adapted to the culture of integrity that was circulated through the films.

The social dynamics that occurred more or less independent of any direction from the nationalist organisations also reinforced the one culture theory of the Manipuri nationalists.

On the flip side, the entertainment vacuum created by the absence of Bollywood and other kinds of Hindi music also gave a free pass to rock shows and Western music in the last two decades.

"A new generation of the Meiteis (Manipuris), rather than taking up course on `Hindustani` music, began to learn Western music. Several music bands came up and many shows were organised," writes Malem.

Published by Spectrum Publications, the book debates on the issue of Manipuri nationalism by drawing a parallel between the British colonial rule and the Indian state after 1947.

PTI

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