MAMI 2016 – Putting Manipur on the cinematic map

Lady of the Lake, by Haobam Paban Kumar, delves into the conflicts that fuel political tension in the state.

Haobam Paban Kumar is an award winning documentary filmmaker, whose film AFSPA 1958 won the International Jury and FIPRESCI awards at the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2006. The film also won the Swarna Kamal for the Best Documentary at the 2008 National Film Awards. Recently, he won the Golden Conch for Best Documentary Film (upto 60 minutes) at MIFF 2016. Lady of the Lake is his debut fiction feature film.

Excerpts from a quick chat:

His cinematic journey

I started thinking about films when I was doing my computer science graduation degree. I see a good means of communication in film. Mainly coming from this part of the country, I thought it would be an easier way to reach out to more people and tell stories about Manipur.

My maternal uncle is a famous theatre director. I used to go around with him. The kind of respect artists get also attracted me to filmmaking. When I decided to take up filmmaking, my uncle guided me to Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI). I did a small course at Asian Academy of Film and Television first. After that course, I came back and started assisting Aribam Syam Sharma. It took me six years to get into SRFTI.

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The story behind Lady of the Lake

Manipur is supposed to be one of the most disturbed places in India. My stories come from the everyday happenings in the state. All my films delve into the fear psychosis which leads to mistrust and unnecessary conflict. I see guns all around in Manipur whether it be the insurgent groups or people associated with the government.

Why the film holds universal appeal

The main reason I made the film is because I was looking for solutions also. I didn’t see a good future for Manipur. I came to the conclusion that we need to relook at our cultural values because all the belief systems in the world propograte trust, love and tolerance.

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Filmmaking inspirations

I didn’t watch a lot of movies especially during the making of the film because I didn’t want to be influenced by anybody. But if I had to name a few, they would be Tarkovsky, Ozu, Wong Kar-wai and Krzysztof Kieślowski.

Future projects

Another fiction film called Joseph’s Son. It’s basically about the ethnic divide which has become a problem in the entire North East.

Freshman tip for aspiring filmmakers

Start step by step. The first step is to go to Film Bazaar’s Screenwriters’ Lab or any similar screenwriters’ lab. Once the project is selected, people find out about it. You’ll have mentors to nurture it with. And by the end of it, you may even get funding.


Lady Of The Lake screens at MAMI on:

DAY 4, OCTOBER 24, 7.15pm at PVR ECX Audi 4

DAY 5, OCTOBER 25, 3.45pm at PVR Phoenix Audi 4

DAY 7, OCTOBER 27, 2.30pm at PVR ECX

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