Documentary director Haobam Paban Kumar’s debut feature film Lady of the Lake which won the Golden Gateway Award in the India Gold competition at the Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star had a special screening at PVR Icon yesterday.
The special premiere was attended by MAMI Chairperson Kiran Rao, as well as film personalities and enthused film lovers from across the city. Kiran Rao introduced the film and read out a message sent by the director especially for the MAMI audience.
Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival Star Chairperson Kiran Rao said, “We are really delighted to present Lady of the Lake, a beautiful feature debut by Haobam Paban Kumar which won the top prize, the Golden Gateway award at MAMI last year. He and co-writer Sudhir Naoroibam have artfully examined life in a unique and threatened fishing community in Manipur. We hope that through this screening at our year-round programme more film lovers can discover and appreciate this film.”
Director Haobam Paban Kumar said, “It is amazing how MAMI has been able to continuously support independent cinema in the country in the middle of Big Bollywood.”
Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star’s Creative Director Smriti Kiran said, “Lady of the Lake is a wonderful film. We are very proud of Haobam. Our endeavour is to make sure that films like these reach a wider audience and probably a release can be secured for them in the future with a constant supply of these films.”
Set in Manipur, Lady of the Lake focuses on the strained marriage of a middle-aged couple living on the extraordinary phumdis (masses of floating vegetation) in Loktak Lake in the Northeastern State of Manipur. Unfolding against the backdrop of forced evictions and house burnings carried out by government forces since 2011. Lady of the Lake makes an emphatic statement about human rights and the consequences of living in a constant state of fear.
Commenting on the film, Kiran Rao said, “I loved the film! He has such command over the craft and just storytelling in general! Of course, apart from the fact that this is a world you don’t regularly see, it’s unusual, surreal in a way, a complete departure from ordinary life, the struggle of these people is so poetic, even though the treatment is so realistic. I really enjoyed it.”
Cinematographer Manoj Lobo said, “I think this film is a beautiful fairy tale, it talks about deep and dark things in Manipur but in a fairytale manner, about a man living on lake, it takes its time but the way it ends is spectacular.”
Ranjib Mazumder, columnist and screenwriter said, “This film captures the wondrous beauty of Loktak in the most lyrical way possible. The Manipuri society that draws its strength from its women, the mythical nature of Loktak that has been entwined with the tribes who reside there, and finally the resistance of the dispossessed come wonderfully together in the film. This is a gem that’s waiting to be discovered by the whole of India.”