‘The Manipur State Cinema Policy, 2019’ was approved by the state government in an effort to improve the Manipuri film industry during a cabinet meeting chaired by the Manipur CM in Imphal. The main motive of this meeting was to find out ways of improving the Manipuri film industry, and understandably, the decision has been welcomed by the artistes and others associated with the Manipuri film industry including the Film Forum Manipur (FFM)- Manipur’s apex body of filmmakers. With the approval by the state cabinet, the plight of Manipuri film and those associated with film-making were expected to improve considerably.
The role that film plays in projecting an image and presenting the cultures and customs of a place or region is enormous, evident from the plethora of advertisements and publicity stunts employed by agencies to attract the attention and imagination of the public. To this day, films remain the most effective and widespread medium for inspiring the public or spreading awareness, portraying a culture or custom and enticing tourists.
Unfortunately, however, despite the importance and the increasing need for making advancements in film-making, the Policy is yet to be implemented thus rendering it a lame and impotent decision as of now- one among the multitude of such critical decisions which, if implemented in the right spirit, could have made substantial differences in various spheres of public life. The continuing apathy could not be more evident from the fact that the annual budget 2019-20 proposes a total expenditure of Rs 16117 crore from the State’s consolidated fund out of which a total of Rs 28 crore was allocated to Arts and Culture or less than 0.2 percent of the total expenditure. Comparing this with that of neighboring Assam which also saw the Film Policy receiving cabinet approval in 2019 which includes, amongst various incentives, an annual subsidy of upto 20 films, 25 percent subsidy for films with expenditure of Rs1 crore, Rs 1 crore subsidy for national award winning films and Rs 2 crore for Oscar winning films, besides a huge corpus for film artistes and various welfare schemes including pension benefits. Plans are afoot to include cinema halls under service industry to enable them to avail applicable benefits under the Industry Department.
According to an in-depth analysis of the current situation prevailing in the Manipur Film industry vis-à-vis the national scenario, noted economist Dr Chinglen Maisnam commented that the most important factor which will determine the future of the film industry in the state is the political will of the state government. Drawing comparisons and supplying relevant data to substantiate his comments, the economist states that Manipur produced a total of 15 films as against 34 from neighboring Assam and a national total of 2446 according to the Central Board of Film Certification- an achievement worth mentioning in view of the stifling conditions under which various operations have to be performed, financially, socially, politically and technologically.
The fledgling film industry in Manipur has come a long way despite the persistent challenges and inherent drawbacks, and is still making remarkable progress. If the state is to receive the benefits and services which this wonderful medium of entertainment and information can provide, then implementation of the Film Policy both in letter and spirit is the only way out. It is in the interest of this state and the societies comprising it that the film industry needs to be made strong and flourish. The role of films in protecting and propagating the message and image of a vibrant and united Manipur should never be undermined.
Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]