Taking Kokborok to the globe


A film from Tripura has bagged the first national award for the State this year. I am talking about the much acclaimed Kokborok film, Yarwng (Roots), which was bestowed with the 56th National Film Awards at a function held in Vigyan Bhavan recently.

The film was produced by Joseph Kizhakechennadu and was directed by Father Joseph Pulinthanath. Both are priests of the Don Bosco mission and Yarwng was their second film. The duo received their award from Indian president Pratibha Patil. Pulinthanath, dressed in a white cassock, and Kizhakechennadu, in his preferred saffron lungi and half-sleeved white kurta, were among the 52 film award winners of 2008, including high-profile Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra and the doyen of Indian cinematography VK Murthy. It should be mentioned that Murthy was bestowed with the highest honour in Indian cinema this year – the Dada Saheb Phalke Award.

A host of ministers, bureaucrats and other top officials accompanied the president during the award ceremony.

The award-winning 95-minute long feature film, Yarwng (Roots), tells the story of large-scale displacement of tribal people that took place in the tiny Northeastern State of Tripura when a hydel-project was set up there in the late 1970s. Yarwng was the opening film at the prestigious Indian Panorama section of the 39th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at Panaji in November 2008.

According to the filmmakers, the script of Yarwng emerged from the numerous encounters they has with displaced people in the sanctity of their ramshackle homes. “All the incidents and emotional turmoil we see in the film were etched in the subconscious psyche of the people. All we did was to get close to them and feel their stories as they recalled them with looks, sighs, tears and also words,” recalled the priest director, who brought Tripura its first national award with the film.

“Although the technical team came from Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and the support team from Guwahati (Assam), the best part of the production was the involvement of the local people,” says producer Kizhakechennadu who claims cinematic traditions from his legendary relative John Abraham, a genius in Malayalam cinema and founder of a people’s cinema movement called Odessa.

The cast of `Yarwng`, which New York Times described as a `rare glimpse into tribal India`, is made up mostly of indigenous people who are themselves victims of displacement and had no experience whatsoever in acting. The crew list included noted actors like Meena Debbarma, who plays the lead role of Karmati, Amulya Ratan Jamatia, Nirmal Jamatia and Surabhi Debbarma. The other members of the crew, including the technical part, also had a lot of people from Tripura. The award for Yarwng has provided a major boost to the film industry there. Taking Kokborok to the international level, the film has done justice to the language and people, promoting the language, culture, and its people worldwide.

Yarwng has travelled across film festivals throughout the entire country and has been screened in most of the major cities of the world, including cities like New York, Brisbane, Moscow, Taipei, Stuttgart and Dhaka. Yarwng has also won a Special Jury Mention Award at the 3rd Eye Asian Film festival held in Mumbai in 2008.

The film, which has been partly financed by Church organizations – Missio Germany, Signis and the Salesian Congregation, is also a compelling testament to the commitment of the Church and the Don Bosco Society towards the preservation and development of local and indigenous people and cultures.

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Posted on April 3, 2010, in Day-to-Day. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Paris Premiere For Kokborok Film on Displaced Persons
    KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – Northeast India’s Kokborok film ‘Yarwng’ (Roots) from Tripura state will be screened in Paris on December 8th at the Maison des Cultures du Monde under the patronage of Program Sorosoro of the Chirac Foundation.
    The opening film of Indian Panorama section at India international Film Festival of India (IFFI Goa) in 2008, ‘Yarwng’ brought to Tripura its first National Film Award in 2010.
    “Yarwng has been a typical instance of a film being a vehicle for the uplift of a language and culture,” claims director of Yarwng, Salesian Father Joseph Pulinthanath.
    The award winning director hopes the Paris screening of the film with subtitles in French will “further open up avenues for the development of Kokborok language.”
    “It’s wonderful to know that our film is doing its bit as an ambassador for Kokborok culture,” comments Pulinthanath working on his third Kokbork feature film.
    The 60-member Yarwng crew braved several odds to make the film happening, the second one from the director in the language, the first being `Mathia’ (Bangle) on the social evil of witch hunt.
    ‘Yarwng’ is the second feature film of Don Bosco Sampari Pictures Tripura.
    The story of the 95-minute feature film revolves round the large-scale displacement which happened in Tripura when the newly-built Dumbur dam (1970s) submerged huge areas of arable land in the fertile Raima valley about 40 years ago.
    The film is about the romance between Karmati and Wakhiri. On the eve of their marriage, the dam submerges the entire village and separates them.
    ‘Yarwng’ was shot on actual locations like Bolongbasa and adjoining areas and many of the people who act in the film are real life victims of displacement.
    The lead actors of Yarwng are local talents Meena Debbarma, Nirmal Jamatia and Sushil Debbarma.
    Yarwng has been screened in over 40 international film festivals across the world, including those in USA, Germany, Australia, Moscow, and Taiwan.
    The Maison des Cultures du Monde in Paris will be the first time Yarwng is screened in the birthplace of cinema and some of its tallest masters.
    The New York Times in its review, called ‘Yarwng’, “a rare glimpse into tribal India.”
    France-based Sorosoro festival aims to preserve endangered languages and cultures of the world.
    The screening of the acclaimed Kokborok film will mark the setting up the Foundation in India where they plan to document 100 unscheduled languages found in the country.
    Official website: http://www.yarwng.com

    xxx xxx xxx xxx
    Pls chk the link for Paris festival schedule:
    http://www.indiansinparis.com/events?task=view_detail&agid=738&year=2011&month=12&day=08

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