Double delight for Arunachal, YD Thongchi

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‘In The Land of Poisonous Women’, Mishing bag National film award

From Dhrubajyoti Chakravorty

SHILLONG, Aug 9:Friday was a historic day for Arunachal Pradesh as well as Sahitya Akademi award-winning author Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi as films based on two of his novels bagged national awards.

Although the mainstream Hindi cinema emerged a major winner at the 66th National Film Awards on Friday with multiple recognitions for Andhadhun, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Badhaai Ho, yet ‘In The Land of Poisonous Women’ (Best Panchanga Film, Director Manju Borah) and Mishing (Best Sherdukpan Film, Director  Bobby Sarma Baruah) bagged Rajat Kamal in regional cinema category.

Both the films are done based on Thongchi’s Assamese novels “Bishakanyar Deshot” and “M-shing”.

Directed by noted Assamese director Manju Borah, the ‘In The Land of Poisonous Women’ is in Pangsenpa language, spoken by over 5,000 people of Monpa tribe who live near the Indo-China border, about 100 kilometres from Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh.

The film is a depiction of an individual’s effort to break the myth of ‘poison women’ in a remote part of Arunachal Pradesh.

Thongchi has written the novel in the backdrop of Zemithang region of Tawang district. Besides presenting a story of suspense, the novel portrays a superstitious belief prevalent among the people of that tribe.

Manju Borah wrote the script of the movie, while her son Anirudha, an engineer who lives in Toronto (Canada), has scored its music.

On other hand, another Assamese filmmaker Bobby Sarma Baruah is known for her selection of out-of-the-box concepts for her movies. Her ‘Mishing’ portrays the Sherdukpen ethnic group of Arunachal Pradesh with a glimpse of their local dialects.

It is said there are around 4,000 people who used to speak the Sherdukpen dialect once but today almost half of them have forgotten it.

Shot in the scenic locations of Arunachal Pradesh, the film shows how a Manipuri driver meets a Sherdukpen man. A local belief about spirits of dead people appearing and trying to communicate with their loved ones is also portrayed in the film.

Assamese actor Rajiv Kro played the role of the protagonist — Manipuri driver — in the film.

Meanwhile, Thongchi expressed happiness over the achievements of the two films.

“Any kind of recognition means a lot, I am happy,” he said while talking to The Hills Times.

He expected that only one of the two films sent for the competition would get an award. “I am doubly happy with both the films getting national recognition,” he said. He, however, gave credit to the directors of the two movies. “It is a result of their hard work,” he said.

The prominent Assamese writer of Arunachal Pradesh further informed that director Manju Borah, who is currently in Melbourne for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, will screen ‘In the Land of Poisonous Women’ there.

Both the films have participated in several national and international film festivals, the recipient of Dr. Bhupen Hazrika National Award said.

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