Set in the conflict zone of Manipur, filmmaker Mamta Murthy’s film ‘Fried fish, chicken soup & a premiere show’ explores the little known film industry thriving in the region.
The film will be screened as part of the Fresh Pix Series at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday.
The National Award (Best Art Film) winning documentary is a road film that was commissioned for Madhushree Dutta's research art and archive project, Cinema City, and produced by Majlis Production.
The city-based filmmaker accompanied the film unit of a Manipuri film, ‘21st century’s Kunti’ for a period of two years, chronicling the impact of Manipuri cinema on the lives of locals in a conflict-zone. “Since the middle of the twentieth century, Manipur has been wrecked by state and non-state militancy and has little to show for being part of a developing country like India. But it has cinema,” said Murthy, who was initially thought of exploring the filmmaking culture in other conflict zones such as Kashmir or Malegaon. “However, not many are aware of the fact that Manipuri cinema has produced some celebrated works, which have also won National Awards in the past,” added Murthy, whose earlier short film, 'Colours Black' received the Grand Prix at 9th Biennial of Moving Images, Geneva in 2001.
Editing ‘Fried Fish..’ took more than two and a half years. “The edit was the most challenging part of the making. On this project, we even had our rushes subtitled so that we could cut accurately,” said Murthy, adding that neither she nor the editor, Rikhav Desai, knew the local language, ‘Meiteilon’. The filmmaker found a musician to help with the translation. The national award, announced in February, helped Murthy reach out to film enthusiasts in Manipur.