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

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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.

Manipur

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!

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    What nonsense! Is Manipur a part of India? Or has the Taliban settled there?

    1. Aditi Thakker

      Manipur is geographically a part of India. Reading up a bit on the insurgency there will help you understand their actions. I am not defending their actions, but there are reasons for it.

    2. Ranjit

      Raj, I think u d’nt know about History of Manipur.

  2. Thoudam Jomita

    Hi I am glad that you have written something which is wroth reading but i don’t agree with your point “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” Its not true as in Manipur till 8th class it was compulsory in every school. since 5/7 years it has been started to teach Meitei Language instead of Hindi language. However Hindi language is compulsory in CBSE not only till class 8 you can opt till class 12th. Lastly, we do have scope of teaching and learning Hindi in the university level too.

  3. mickey rock

    So i was just googling to find out people’s opinion re Manipur, and came across this piece.
    “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.”
    Now that is what i call bollocks. This is exactly the fake news media is spreading. Hindi Movies are ban from the THEATERS because of some insurgents and their daddy issues who none can give two shits about, but people watch it through DVDs and pirated CDs. It is not a taliban state or a middle east situation you are making here. Hell, there are a lot of people who even watch those terrible Telugu and Tamil movies in Manipur just for laughs and to make fun of the ridiculous heroes and action scenes. And who exactly is banning ‘chudi dhars’? I don’t know what exactly that thing is, but people can wear anything they like here. People can sing whatever they like, but you will find most people listening to western music though, but people still know a lot of hindi songs. The problem is the manipur movie industry is too small and the ban is probably helping it. But most Manipuris are used to watching Hollywood movies and in case of ladies, korean soaps. I mean, you made it sound like Manipur is some regressive state, but i can tell you it is probably the safest state in India for Women and their welfares, sure, the state is really poor and has extremely low Per capita income, but it is one of the most progressive states in India probably next to Meghalaya. There are far less cases of violence and rapes, people are unemployed but you literally cannot find a beggar in the whole state. And you won’t find the cases of Arranged marriages and caste systems here, I can also tell you that although the people are poor, their minds are a lot more progressive compare to the youths of other parts of India and you won’t experience sexism in Manipur. Yeah there are some communal feelings among the people living in hills and in the valley. The culture is a hell lotta different compare to rest of India though.

    1. Mahitha Kasireddi

      Hi, very surprised to see someone read and respond to a four year old article. My knowledge then was based on what I read in the national newspapers and magazines. Thank you for sharing the other side and true side of it.

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