Film scene in Meghalaya

The first ever Meghalaya International Film Festival (MIFF) was inaugurated on March 14. Chief Minister Conrad Sangma was to inaugurate the event but called off at the last minute. Minister for Arts & Culture and Tourism, Paul Lyngdoh had to do the honours. The presence of several noted film makers from Mumbai and award winning actors like Adil Hussain and Sanjay Suri and renowned directors like Onir and Amar Kaushik added its own sheen to the general ambience at the Soso Tham auditorium. Hosted by the Meghalaya Film Makers Association (MeFilMA) the event however exposed the lack of camaraderie and cooperation among the local film makers. Well known film directors who have won acclaim nationally and internationally such as Pradip Kurbah and Dominic Sangma among others were conspicuous by their absence. Clearly the spirit of inclusiveness is missing here.

Commander Shangpliang, a journalist cum filmmaker who is the mover and shaker of the MeFILMA broached the topic of a film policy for the State. This is no easy matter and unless all the stakeholders thrash out issues together the film policy will become just another piece of paper in the files of the Information and Public Relations files. In Meghalaya the congenital problem is that there is no public consultation on matters of public interest. On the contrary consultants will be used to write out a policy without understanding the nuances of the local cultures and sensitivities.

Minister for Arts and Culture & Tourism had in his inaugural speech stated that Meghalaya will become the destination for film makers which will in turn make the state a one-stop shop for film tourism. There is however the case of the local filmmakers who suffer from want of cinema halls or multiplexes where locally made films would be exempted from entertainment tax. The number of film makers is growing but the question arises about the quality of the films produced. Will they qualify to compete at national film festivals and competitions? Noted actor Adil Hussain made a fervent appeal to film makers to raise the standard of film making and not produce trashy films in a hurry which he compared to consuming fast food which has impacts human health. True many local films have been produced and shown in cinema halls but do these films actually send any message to the audience? Do they bring about behavioral change? Do they look at issues that afflict sections of the society or are they all about one genre – romance? Why are there so few documentaries produced in and from Meghalaya? These are questions that need to be intensely deliberated.

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