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Manipur film fraternity protests against extortion by militants

Imphal, Wed, 15 Feb 2012 ANI

Imphal, Feb 15 (ANI): Over the years, filmmakers in Manipur have been using cinema as a medium to expose militant outfits and present a real picture of the insurgency affected state to the world.


In retaliation, militant groups have imposed monetary demands and unnecessary guidelines on the film fraternity.


Cinema halls in Imphal were recently shut for 23 days in protest against threats by insurgents against film production houses. They wore a deserted look from January 9 to February 1 as insurgents demanded money and sent out guidelines about film productions.


"Some of the underground groups are demanding money from film production houses. We are producing films but it does not mean that we have lots of money. Instead we are struggling and working hard for our survival," said Oken Amakcham, a film director.


The film fraternity under the aegis of Manipur Film Forum condemned the threats.


The shut down affected nearly 3000 people associated with the industry. Though the strike has been called off now but uncertainty still exists in the minds of filmmakers.


Manipur film industry is not as big as Bollywood. It produces low budget regional films that have a smaller market. So there is not much for insurgents to extract.


"We want film and education to be a free zone. It is not good to disturb us in our work of film production. We appeal them from now onward not to disturb in our film fraternity," said Surjakanta Sharma, president, film forum Manipur.


" We urge the militant not to do any such demand, threaten and not to do anything, which is going to harm in our film production. We want to work peacefully without stopping or troubling us," added Memma Devi, a protestor.


Over the years, insurgents have been trying to control the entertainment industry in Manipur.


They banned Hindi films in 1990 that forced several halls to shut down as they lacked audiences thereafter. As of today there are only three theatres Usha, Mini Friends and Pratap Talkies in Imphal, all the rest have either been converted to schools or shopping malls.


In 2011 Kangleipak Communist Party had made similar demands that had lead to the closure of cinema halls for 10 days. (ANI)


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