By : Meghachandra Kongbam
Imphal, June 27,
The 30 minute long Poulah film- Look at the Sky directed and written by Ashok Veilou won the Best Film in Short Film category of the recently concluded 12th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala 2019 held from 21 to 26 June at Thiruvananthpuram. The festival, which had over the years evolved into the key platform for non-fiction filmmaking in the country, was organised by the Kerala State Chalchitra Academy as a part of its endeavour to catalyse a vibrant documentary and short film movement.
The film made in Paulah dialect spoken by Poumai tribe in Senapati District was among 19 films selected for the competition section of the category. The citation read, “A subtle, gentle but emphatic portrayal of political dissent that is also of great anthropological value in the way it documents the life of the indigenous community, its culture, beliefs and philosophies.”
The film narrates about a man outcast by his village for not supporting the village candidate in the election. He shows courage and fights for his right. The film features Ngoale Hepunii of Koide village in Senapati district in the lead role. The wife is played Angela Pou and the two sons by Sousii Veipou and Thole Rahavei.
Hai is a 40-year-old villager with a wife and two sons. He lives in remote Purul village in the sate of Manipur in India’s northeast. His family is outcast by the villagers for not supporting the popular candidate during the election. Despite all odds, Hai fights for his individual right - the right to vote and elect his representatives. Hai’s family undergoes a series of emotional, spiritual and physical tortures from the villagers. Yet, unashamed and ambitious Hai fights for dignity. He defiantly displays inner truth and courage by saying ‘no’, loudly and proudly, to the villagers. Hai and family at the end faces crushing experience of absolute powerlessness when the whole menfolk’s of the village perform social curse upon the family. The mass whooping is followed by shouts “Whoever does not follow the village ways, let them die before the year ends”. The film ends with the grandpa giving blessing to Hai’s sons “Cross over many rivers and mountains; Overcome all evils and troubles; May your live for the greater purpose of humanity”.
The film was cinematographed by Jithu George from Kerala, edited by Pousheru Ngade from Purul village, Manipur, who passed from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata in Editing, and Sandeep Singh from Uttar Pradesh designed the sound.
The film also bagged the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger with a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs for the best short film award in Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) 2018. Earlier, his ‘Tou-Tai’ (Seed) won the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger for best Short Film in KIFF 2016.
The 28 years old director completed his 3-year PG in Direction and Screenplay Writing from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata, after graduation in Mass Communication and Video Production from St. Anthony College, Shillong.
He is the son of Thaipei Peter of Purul Village. According to family sources, Ashok is a very simple and down to earth person and continue to focus on his career.
Ashok Veilou’s elder brother Alexander Leo Pou is also renowned documentary film maker, who has got diploma in the Film Production and Television from SRFTI and is now working in National Film Development Corporation.
Ashok Veilou was happy that he was able to tell the story of his people and its rich culture to the world which otherwise might have never been told. He expressed his gratitude to the people of Purul, Koide, Oinam and Shirong for the making the film possible. Ashok Veilou says “My people are the backbone of the film. I want to tell their stories for the better world”.
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