Friday, May 28, 2010
"the past has just begun"
SONGS OF MASHANGVA
A production by OURVILLAGE FILMS
Produced with the support of NEZCC, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, GOVT. OF INDIA
A film by OINAM DOREN
Produced & Directed by OINAM DOREN
Duration: 72 min. 27sec (director’s cut)
Format : dvcam
songs they are words
words they are songs
a history simply told in songs
P r o d u c t i o n
SONGS OF MASHANGVA
Produced & directed by
Music & vocals
Unit production manager
THOTNGAM SHIMRAH (ATHOD)
Director of photography
Rajasthani folk song translation
Our travel agent
Folk singer in the field
Folk singers at Longpi village
Two women in Longpi village
Folk singers at Hundung village
Folk singers at Tongou village
Phadharo hamara des (Rajasthani folk song)
NENU RAM & GUDI
Saka Mashangva’s friends
Shot on location
SHALLOW RIVER STUDIO
Songs recorded & mixed at
SHALLOW RIVER STUDIO, IMPHAL
Songs recorded & mixed by
All songs performed by
SHALLOW RIVER STUDIO
Our special thanks to
staff at NEZCC, ministry of culture, government of india.
Rajasthan international folk festival
Indian Chamber of Commerce
MEHRANGARH FORT, JODHPUR
ASKA & FAMILY
RANJAN PALLIT & VASUDHA
Produced with the support of
NEZCC, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, GOVT. OF INDIA
SONGS OF MASHANGVA
Project status: complete.
About the project: The film was shot for more than a year in Shillong, Kolkatta, Rajasthan, New Delhi, Imphal, Nagaland and a number of villages in Ukhrul and Chandel district of Manipur.
Synopsis: The Tangkhul Naga tribes reside in the hilly Ukhrul district of Manipur in the northeastern part of India bordering Myanmar. Ukhrul is made up of 230 villages with 165 different languages. The Tangkhul Nagas were originally animistic in their worship and superstitious, often wage war with the neighboring villages and habituated to the locally made alcohol called ‘zu’ and rice beer. But they had a 1000years old very rich folk music tradition for everyday activities, rituals and seasons including war.
In 1896, Rev William Pettigrew (1869-1943), an European missionary came to Ukhrul and opened a school for the natives with the intention of preaching the gospel of Christ. Along with the education, the pre-condition of baptism was that the natives have to disregard their old lifestyle including drinking and singing folk songs which was to be replaced with hymns and choirs.
The new entrant of European education and Christian life slowly killed the original customs and traditions of the Tangkhul Nagas which had an adverse affect on its folk music traditions. Now 100% of the natives are Christians and in culmination with the technological invasion of the West, folk music is completely non-existent among the younger generation. The few masters are either death or completely old and this rich original heritage would consequently fade away with their demise.
Rewben Mashangva, who himself is a Christian but with very less education and belonging to a carpenter’s family becomes a cultural ambassador of the Tangkhul Nagas reminding everyone of their past with his brand of folk and Naga-folk blues, unique ‘haokuirat’ traditional hairstyle and costumes.
Rewben Mashangva, the protagonist of the film has about 17-18 years of folk music experience. The director of the film has about 5 years of association with him that makes research and preproduction of the film very easy. Most of the masters of Tangkhul Naga folk songs are either dead or the few left reside in remote villages of the hilly Ukhrul district untouched by proper roads or means of communication. Moreover no books or recordings of folk songs are available in the market or in libraries we know of. So basically it was very raw first hand data and song recordings we have collected in the process of our production.
About the arrival of European missionary William Petigrew in Ukhrul district, we got second hand information from sons whose fathers were student of the reverend. We were also lucky to find a book in a Christian literature outlet ‘Forty years mission in Manipur – mission reports of Rev.William Pettigrew’ in which the reverend has written in detail about his experience with the natives, i.e. the Tangkhul nagas.
The first and last sequence of the film are purely constructed. For this we had to go to a remote village called LONGPI which is also famous for its ethnic ceramic pottery. The roads are very bad, no electricity was available and we had a hard time persuading the old man to shave their hair in the old traditional style called ‘haokuirat’. Of course we managed to bribe them with alcohol and money. One of the old artist named Ngazek who is 90 years old told us, after the hair cut his wife chased him away from the house saying it wasn’t modern.
The first and last sequence are what we called ‘the dreamy-nostalgic’ sequence in which the old traditional lifestyle of the natives-the Tangkhul Nagas are revealed. We have two old ladies pounding rice in the old method in front of the old traditional house called ‘haosym’. Only one house was left in the village and that too the rooftops were covered with old brownish aluminum tiles.
Then we have the old men in hunting costumes with spears going for hunting in the jungle while the two ladies work in the field.
In the evening as the old man return home, they sit by the fireplace and sings folk songs to each other by drinking rice beer from the clay pot with the help of a straw made of bamboo.
There is one scene in which a little boy pass by the silvery cloudy mountain riding a buffalo. For this we had to shave his hair in the old traditional ‘haokuirat’ hairstyle. His mom refused outrightly but after some hassles agreed to co-operate demanding a hefty sum of money. Early in the morning the next day, it was the buffalo who gave us a terrible time refusing to co-operate with the crew.
The ‘dreamy-nostalgic’ sequence also has dangerous honey bees walking up and down a path, buffalo heads hung in front of old houses, crafted wooden tribal motifs in the facade of the old traditional house ‘haosym’ depicting the order of the relationship between the Tangkhul-nagas and other living organisms, trees, mountains etc.
1)Rewben mashangva who is the main protagonist of the film. It is through him the journey of the film is made and completed.
He will also tell us the present condition of tangkhul naga folk songs, his struggles to learn and promote them and new genres that has sprung up in the process.
3) Ngachonmi Chamroy
Former editor of a newspaper and now a social activist who writes all the English lyrics of Rewben and has indept knowledge of contemporary Tangkhul Naga society.
4) Keith Wallang
CEO of Springboard Surprises, an event manager and a cultural enthusiast who has been promoting Rewben since the last 2 years.
5) Rudy Wallang
Vocalist and one of the best blues guitar player in india with his own band Soulmate. He collaborated with Rewben on one project ‘creation’.
6) K. Mahangthei
A pastor/music composer whose father was a student of European missionary Rev. William Pettigrew who opened a school in Ukhrul district in 1896 and brought Christianity to the natives. Mahangthei grew up with gospels and hymns. But as he travel around the villages preaching the gospel, he was smitten by the folktunes and learned the folk songs from the natives. He is a storehouse of folk songs. We made him sing 3 folk songs in his field one of them which will be used in the film.
One interesting fact he told us was some of the old men who wants to live the old lifestyle, drink and sing folk songs were refusing to come to the church. So he adapted the folk tunes and fit in gospel lyrics. He says after that the old man started coming to the church.
7) Shimthar Keishing
A very amusing character who sang a lot of folk songs for us. But we didn’t used any due to space.
Shimthar shares with us how the Christian missionaries used to lure them by scaring them about hell and assurance of heaven through christianity.
An intellectual who has written books on customery laws of the Tangkhul Nagas. A very reserved character in the beginning who started opening up like the petals of a lily. He gave us the best time of the film with folk songs (erotic ones too), amusing allegory, historical abstracts and wisdom.
Some of the major performances would be;
RIFF2009 (Rajasthan international folk festival ) in Jodhpur
Hornbill 2009 – the biggest tourism fest of the Nagas
Luiyuila (an old lady in Hundung village)
4 old men sings by a fireplace sipping rice beer depicting the customs of the past.
Rev. K Mahangthei sings ‘luisi luisi’ (miss you miss you) soulfull folk song in his green field
Stephen Agang sings 2 songs; a lullaby and an erotic folk
2 rajasthani folk songs in Mehrangarh Fort
Rewben plays yangkahui fute and folk fiddle tingteilla in front of ‘haosym’-the old traditional house of the tangkhul nagas. It is juxtaposed with every exotic, stylish visuals.
And 3 very haunting ‘Khamahon’ (traditional chants) juxtaposed with dreamy visuals.
And of course ‘our little’ Saka Mashangva is always around singing or rehearsing with his dad.
SONGS OF MASHANGVA