KHA YURNA MATAIMEI (2016)
Cast: Khavangpam Mahung, Timmi Rinpam Lunghar, Wungthingchon Raihing, Kanring Vashum and Wunglensing Longleng.
Director: Riyo Varam
Production House: Meiphung Production
Synopsis: Shatkhai, the main male protagonist of the film (played by Khavangpam Mahung) is a young intellect schooled in one of the most prestigious university in the country. At an occasion hosted by his close friend, he meets the female lead Nanphi (played by Timmi Rinpam Lunghar) who had just graduated from Delhi University and happens to be well informed about the male protagonist because of his popularity amongst the community residing in Delhi. They soon fell in love and the film takes its wings through the depiction of love beween two different ideologically inclined individuals.Shatkhai is a man educated with the best of the world, determined to work for the good of his people. His utopian stance is countered by Nanphi who portrays the realistic approach to life that many craves for; a good education, a stable government job and prestige. The film mainly oscillates between this two ideological approaches and the crux of the film, the love for the nation above everything else is depicted in the intricacies and web of love, society, and the nation.
Review: Meiphung Production’s first ever production Kha Yurna Mataimei (2016) has provided a fresh impetus to the recent resurgence in Tangkhul Cinema. It has brought about new heights in the production and post production of films among our community. The advent of the digital age of technology has significantly reduced the cost of film production and it has been an added advantage to the new film makers of our generations today. However, with the advantages of cheaper cost of production and the possibility of a number of retakes with a digital video cam recorder or the easy access to a DSLR Camera for video recordings, we seem to have become oblivious to the basics of film making such as the technical language, sound and script etc. As a film studies student, I have always been weary of the technical language of story-telling in Tangkhul films. It’s not just the plot lines and dialogues that narrates a film, visual and sound design plays immense role in telling a story. In fact the technical proficiency of master filmmakers are such that, we often don’t realize the impact of the meticulous sound and visual design that are weaved in a film. One of the things that strikes me about the film as compared to the other Tangkhul films I’ve seen so far, is the immense improvement in the camera work or the technical language per se of filmmaking. In the traditional style of filming a conversation between two people, ‘Shot Reverse Shot’ is often employed. Here, the visual cuts back and forth between the point of view of both the characters. Such basic rules are often neglected in our Tangkhul film industry. However, in this particular film, the filmmaker and his crew have made the effort to employ such techniques to aid the narrative of the film. For example, in the conversation between Shatkhai and his friend in a restaurant, the camera cuts back and forth between their point of views. Thus, lending a more engaging visual experience for the viewers. Another engaging visual experience was the scene between Shatkhai and Nanphi’s heated argument that took place in a beautiful landscape of Ukhrul. The Camera cuts to Nanphi in a middle close up shot while she directly addresses into the Camera. This technique is done in order to place the audience as a first person within the perspectives of the character, that is, Shatkhai seeing Nanphi’s enraged emotions from his eyes. The next subsequent shot is followed by the long shot where both Shatkhai and Nanphi becomes visible in the frame again, hence displacing us from the narrative as the third eye. Such visual narratives helps spectators to intimately engage with the film. In the sound design of the film, there were a lot of improvements in the sound clarity, however there were a few glitches that were quite apparent. The onscreen voice did not sync well with the character’s lip movement in some scenes. The onscreen voice of some characters in the film sounded superficial. For example, the three young villains’ voices sounded older and way beyond their looks. It came apparent to me that it was not their voices. But I don’t know how far my assumptions are true. But since our Tangkhul film industry is at a nascent stage, there is always room for development as it progresses further in the future.
The onus lies in giving better emphasis to the story plotlines in films. Kha Yurna Mataimei(2016) has no exaggerated melodrama which I feel is in tune with the reality of our people: No pirouetting around trees and valleys in song sequences nor moonlight singing as damsels in distress which otherwise is quite common in the history of our industry so far. Good performances by the actors in the film without any prior theatrical backgrounds or any of the related sorts. The film overall was successful in bringing forth their messages across: The love for the Nation as the greatest of all. However, a smooth and knitted narration in the film is due. The transitions amongst the various scenes were quite abrupt. Hence, many viewers might miss out on connecting the various plot lines.
There was a sense of larger than life depiction given to the male protagonist Shatkhai in the film; His pious character and repeated lecturing to every turn of events is uncompelling and a bit turn off. The effort to highlight the pernicious problem of corruption and hooliganism in the society divides the film into the good ones and bad ones. However it was blatantly put across in the film in order to show this divide; Nanphi’s father’s open admission to his greed in a conversation with Shatkhai during his visit to the former’s house. The scene of the tax collector’s conversation with the shop vendor seems like a surreptitious propaganda sponsored by one of our own revolutionary group, and fails to convince to an audience who have had a fair share of the other side of the coin; extra extortions, hooliganism or threats from members of such groups as well. The film fails to find a balance in bringing out the everyday reality of the people at home but becomes too obvious of its propagandistic agenda.
The attempt to look good aesthetically is an obsession in our cinemas and Kha Yur Na Mataimei(2016)also fails to shed that obsession. It comes like a compulsion in our cinemas for women to dress in bright waist clothes/sarongs (kashan) while working in the kitchen with their make up on, Or for the lead actors to live in the best houses in town. And such pomposity often leads to a disconnect from the reality.
An intermission in a film is usually used in order to build a sense of tension which will turn the narrative around. Rather than the climax given before the intermission in the film Kha Yurna Matai(2016), the end of the film, for me, can be appropriated as the climax which will carry the narrative forward. The audience is left craving for more. With more productions lining up, I hope that the film will have a second part and fill some of the voids pertaining the film. In as much as the technical proficiency in films is in need in our Tangkhul film Industry, it is all the more necessary to give great emphasis to the intricacy of story plotlines and scripts of the films. Investing more time on research to develop the story theme and a reflexive consciousness of the environment we live in, will help shape a better film in the future.