Phijigee Mani: Of subtle sensibilities and new beginnings

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by Soibam Haripriya
Phijigee Mani: Directed by O. Gautam
Produer: Medha Sharmi

Phijigee Mani as the title alludes to, reveals the beauty of subtle sensibilities of the Meiteis anchored on the universal essence of human relationships. The huge billboard in red with silhouette of archers in the background and a woman`™s angst ridden face in the foreground is a prelude to the promise of a different experience. The poster juxtaposed between others which stares at you with blood shot eyes of men and streaming eyes of women beckons yet it was with reluctance that I pulled myself to watch a Manipuri Feature film wary of insensitive dialogues and proclamation and preaching of the ideal Meitei nupi and mou.

Phijigee Mani opens with beginnings born of love and passion with seas of emotion surging within and yet not outpouring onto you. A mother`™s sweet irrationality, a sport person`s struggle amidst the politics behind the glory of the games for a land one traces one`™s belonging to, are all hinted at brief moments.

The movie which breaks stereotypical image of the lead protagonist Bonny must have disappointed many fans. One shouted from the backseat of BOAT at the premiere show `Bonny nang yaamna pharamle ko`, but it could be a good moment for actors, directors and producers to come up with challengingly chiselled out roles. Tonthoi`™s role as Yaifabi was the thread tying the various characters and anchoring moments. The angst of Yaifabi and her parents, when uninvited at the hour of white garlands of their beloved Phijigee Mani `“Sanajaoba (Bonny) `“ the son and brother embedded with the burden of living up to the hopes and dreams of the family, each hide within the safe corner of the infinite within.

The anxiety for a brother who has cast away yesterday`™s hopes and has begun to forge new ones and the desire to find the nook in his heart was Yaifabi`™s quest. She succeeded and the message at the core `“ of love, forgiveness and reconciliation were arrived at without a surprise. One admits that the film has tedious scenes and the chemistry between Sanajaoba and his wife Jessica could have been better etched to highlight the promise and perils of inter-community marriages. However, Sanajaoba`™s mother did the job- struggling to accept his son`™s beloved, embracing her granddaughter Langlen to her bosom and finally at the time of farewells blessing her daughter-in-law, without reluctance of either feelings or tears. Many used to thundering emotions bordering on the spectacular might take time to revive feeling numbed by the former, yet I believe the time is right for a more mature cinema, the time is right to nurture subtle sensibilities and mature audience. At the end of the film, one understands that everyone dies to be borne anew to beginnings.

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