Imphal, Sep 19: An organisation in Manipur has banned famed actor Soma Laishram from acting in films and attending social functions for 3 years for taking appearing as a show stopper in a “beauty pageant” in Delhi despite a general appeal made by it to her to desist from partaking in such programmes when Manipur is “still burning”.
The decree by civil society group, Kangleipak Kanba Lup (KKL), sent shockwaves to the film fraternity of the strife-torn state.
The Film Forum Manipur (FFM), the umbrella body of all film bodies of the state, expressed dissatisfaction over the KKL’s move and said it would act to bring a solution to it.
Soma, who has acted in over 150 Manipuri films and bagged numerous awards, clarified that there were certain misjudgments over her participation at the New Delhi event on Saturday.
She had participated as a show stopper in a concluding programme of the North East Students’ Festival held at Talkatora Stadium where she passionately spoke on the unprecedented current turmoil in Manipur and used the platform to appeal for support from all for peace and normalcy in the state.
“As a professional actor and a social influencer, it is my responsibility to communicate and speak up about the crisis in Manipur and I chose this platform,” the celebrity actor told the media on Tuesday.
“The event I participated in is a northeast festival hosted by My Home India, a non-profit organisation and the program I took part in was a cultural programme celebrating the cultural heritage of northeast.”
A resident of the Kongeng Hajari Leikai in Imphal West district, she clarified that Saturday’s event was not a beauty or fashion show organised for fun.
“It was a cultural event where each state of the northeast like Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal etc was represented by their own chosen personalities. So from Manipur, it happened to be me. They invited me. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity,” Soma said.
KKL, in a statement on Monday said that it had approached the FFM and the Film Actors Guild Manipur who then requested Soma not to take part in the Delhi beauty pageant.
However, Soma “in full defiance of all such requests and in total disrespect to the Meitis who have died so far”, and thousands of people rendered homeless as many houses were burnt, participated in the event, the statement said.
The existence of Manipur as a nation state with over 2000 years of history stands at its most crucial hour and “as such the Cardinal Crime of Soma Laishram participating in such festivities which compounds to exhibiting Manipur as a normal state cannot be pardoned”.
However, contrary to the KKL’s statement that Soma chose to ignore the “advice” of the FFM and Cine Actors’ Guild Manipur (CAGM) to which she belongs, the heads of the film bodies said that when they were individually approached to discourage Soma from participating in the fashion parade considering the unprecedented human crisis confronting Manipur, it was too late to intervene as it was on the day of the show.
FFM Chairman, Laimayum Surjakanta Sharma admitted that he did speak to Soma on the issue. However he asserted that he didn’t ask her to abstain from the programme after the actor informed how she had planned to use the prestigious platform to campaign for peace in Manipur as the show-stopper.
“Generally we’ve a bad impression of the veracities of such beauty and fashion shows. But Soma explained that it was a cultural programme of the northeast. Soma said she was going to use this big platform to sensitise the unprecedented human crisis in Manipur to appeal for support for peace and normalcy to return to Manipur,” he stated.
“FFM stands by Soma Laishram and will reason with KKL to withdraw its unilateral decree against the actor,” he added.
Echoing Sharma, the Guild’s President, Lokendra Takhellambam said “the ban passed against Soma Laishram is not justified. Cine Actors’ Guild appeals to the concerned to withdraw the decree”.
Using her celebrity status and fan following, the Manipuri film star had been on the forefront in voicing the concerns of Manipur since the violence broke out.