After The Ban On Bollywood, Manipur Hooked On Korean Pop Culture!

Posted on July 23, 2013 in Media

By Mahitha Kasireddi:

Is it not a personal encounter for every one when it comes to movies? Don’t we relate ourselves to the characters, the background and story line of every movie?

My last movie was Lootera and yes, I ended up relating myself to Sonakshi’s character regarding her quest to write books and painting. How much we get influenced each day by the entertainment media? Dressing, behaviour, thought process. It is far from imagination to think of life without movies. In fact, movie making is the greatest discovery so far. It is a contribution that touched every sphere of society not just within a country but worldwide. I started dreaming of traveling to London and New York only after watching some major Bollywood hits.


All this said, recently I came across something in the newspaper. For the first time I learnt that Bollywood and Hindi satellite channels have been banned in Manipur! From every other part of India, the north east seems to be a far distant land. This came out in light of Priyanka Chopra’s forthcoming film which is based on the life of Mary Kom. I am not bothered about whether this movie will help in lifting the ban. I started to wonder how would life be without Bollywood! Without Sharukh Khan and Amitab Bachchan, without Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan and without the Munnis and Sheelas. Coming to the addictive soap operas on Sony and Colors, I cannot think of any other creative substitutes.

Since the late 90’s, the people of Manipur are facing a cultural forbiddance imposed by a radical, fringe institution in the name of preserving the local culture. They hold an opinion that Hindi movies undermine Manipuri cultures and traditions. An anti-Hindi movement has been running since then. Hindi movies disappeared slowly followed by the use of the language from daily life. Hindi songs are not allowed to be played in any gatherings. Nobody is allowed to sing Hindi songs. Learning the language to read and write is not to be talked of. Those who do not oblige are reprimanded and punished. The ban has curbed the children’s right to learn and use the language.

The cinema halls which used to previously play Hindi and English movies are now turning into shopping complexes, hospitals and for other purposes. Girls are not allowed to wear chudi dhars. Many women who used to make a living by selling ‘black tickets’ suddenly lost a livelihood. A major part of cinema was withdrawn from their society and culture, totally disassociating with the rest of India.

Although, the ban had turned a blessing to local movie makers. The Manipur film industry developed quite well with their movies also being picked for awards and screening in film festivals. A number of new young artists and directors are finding opportunities and seeking a lucrative career. The vacuum created by Hindi film industry was filled by south Indian languages, Bengali and other regional films, but could not sustain the interest of the public for long.

There is a huge demand for DVD and CDs which are viewed in private. Pirated CDs find a great market here. People do not let go the chance of watching Hindi movies when they travel outside the valley for job purposes. But now, with the unlimited access to internet it is easy to get a taste of Hindi songs and music.

The youth face great difficulty in facing competition from their Hindi speaking counterparts in the rest of the country. Definitely the others have an advantage in being able to communicate the most commonly spoken language. Even Keralites and Tamilains who settle in North India are comfortable with communicating in Hindi than English.

It is just not possible that nothing else has taken the place of the popular recreation. The Manipuris are currently undergoing a cultural diffusion brought in by Korea! It should rather be called a cultural imperialism established by Korea here. The Hindi ban has turned out advantageous to Korean Television Satellites to find market in the four districts of the Manipur valley. There are channels like Arirang TV and KBS TV which run sitcoms and operas which have simple story lines to follow with characters close to daily life compared to that of the exaggerating saas-bahu sagas. They have won the admiration from Manpuris. The markets here sell DVDs with compilations of the TV shows which are purchased by housewives and schools girls.

The people have been identifying their culture with that of Koreans, from the Mongoloid looks to the cuisine, blow rice and eating with chopsticks. Youth here greet each other in Korean language. There has been a remarkable change in behaviour. They follow hairstyles and dressings. They have new role models replacing the popular Bollywood stars. The most amusing change is that the young here are also planning to pursue schooling in Korea.

Let’s hope the ban would to be done away in respect to Mary Kom’s achievements. I am actually excited to watch Priyanka in the boxing suit and well built arms. Meanwhile, find some time to watch this Korean TV show called Boys Over Flower on Youtube. I am sure you’ll be hooked!