Cinema

Rumblings, upclose

Bani Prakash with Rongsenkala   | Photo Credit: Email

“For a State that is yet to produce a full-length feature film, this National Award is not only a great moral booster personally, but it will also go a long way in helping us shape Nagaland's film industry,” says Rongsenkala, the producer of the National Award winning non-feature film “Distant Rumblings” that was screened during the Indian Panorama Film Festival 2010 held in Kohima this past week.

“Distant Rumblings” – the first ever film from Nagaland to get an official entry in any film festival – won the award for the Best Investigative Film at the 56th National Film Awards in March this year.

The film that evokes agonising memories of the Second World War as experienced by the people of the Northeast region of India was screened in the Nagaland Capital for the first time last week.

“The Second World War has been the most destructive event in the world history so far. The war was fought on multiple fronts. Northeast India became the ultimate battle ground on the Indo-Burma front, where the Japanese faced the staunchest stand of the Allied Forces. Having said that, not many people are aware of this slice of history and how deeply it affected the locals here,” feels Bani Prakash Das, the film's director.

Detailed research

Bani Prakash and Rongsenkala (a local) accidentally hit upon this project in 2003, when they spotted a wheel of an aircraft used during the Second World War hanging on a tree in Noklak village in Nagaland while filming a documentary on the “Indo-Myanmar Border Trade.”

“We were surprised to see the wheel. The locals told us that many such war wreckages were lying in different villages. We went to several places in Nagaland and then later in Manipur, and found wreckages of aircraft, rifles, bullets, grenades and even personal artefacts like spoons and glasses,” reminisces Bani Prakash.

It took them about three years to research for the project. “Research was really tough considering there were limited books and documents available on the subject. We relied a lot on the locals' knowledge and the war veterans' personal experiences. We found about a lot of things simply through the word of mouth. Finally, we began shooting in 2006,” he adds.

What initially began as a wreckage-finding mission widened its scope to include the humane aspect after the filmmakers interacted with the war veterans and the people affected by the war. They even found many human remains in the jungles.

The documentary also includes personalised accounts of the family members and colleagues of several British troops who died during the war and now lay buried in the Imphal and Kohima War Cemeteries.

Even though shooting the film was physically taxing, it was the trauma of the war veterans, their families and the relatives of the dead soldiers that proved to be a bigger ordeal for the filmmakers.

“The war veterans have not got their due. The government has not inquired about them. They live in miserable conditions,” rue Bani Prakash and Rongsenkala.

The film, which has travelled to several film festivals in the country and abroad has opened many doors for its makers. “After the National Award, our responsibility has doubled. Apart from working on some documentaries, we are now trying to make a full-length feature film from Nagaland,” says Bani Prakash.


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 4:12:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Rumblings-upclose/article16373403.ece

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