Tete-a-Tete With: Mohen Naorem

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By: W Rorrkychand Singh

It’s said that love knows no barriers and it seems that in the case of Manipuri filmmaker Mohen Naorem, the medium of cinema knows no limit. Mohen, who is better known for his 2010 movie “School Karushi” (Let Us Study) is among the few filmmakers giving Manipuri film industry a new stage in the global platform.
The director is currently working on an forthcoming experimental flick, “My Japanese Niece”, the movie, which is likely to be launch latter this year, is all set to break a record in the history of Manipuri silver-screen as the most expensive film ever produced before by the industry.

Mohen Naorem the director of “My Japanese Niece”

In an exclusive interview with W Rorrkychand Singh the 35-year-old multifaceted and go-ahead director, who is also the scriptwriter and producer of “MJN” reveals, “We estimate more budget than the Rs 80-90 lakhs” for the upcoming movie.

Here is the excerpts……

Q.  (Rorrkychand) The buzz around the industry is that your next project, “My Japanese Niece” (MJN) is an international venture.

A. (Mohen) We have been preparing few International projects with our Russian, Chinese, Korean, Bangladesh and Thailand partners to do films on International theme and subject and Japanese project is the favourite as this has a deep symbolic resemblance and attached to the heart of every Manipuri due to Second World War at Imphal. Though the film “My Japanese Niece” will be shooting in Manipuri language, we will have a Japanese version for the Japanese release and English Version for the International market. And casting is selected among the International casts.

Q. (Rorrkychand) Could you tell me something about the development of “MJN”.

A. (Mohen) We have been researching on various subjects where Manipur is related with any of the International events or issues and Second World War is associated with Japan, we have few other stories related with China, United Kingdom and Myanmar. Japanese project is very significant as it is attached to the heart and soul of every people living in Manipur. So we decided to take this film as our first International venture. For “MJN”, we went to every nook and corner of the state and made a first hand survey of our storyline. Some of the facts are interesting and will be a new discovery to the International audience. We have been referring books written by Japanese war veterans, British authors as well and the story is totally different to what we have heard. This is a challenge to us as well.

Q. (Rorrkychand) What would be the genre of “MJN”?

A. (Mohen) Drama (no romance). No filmy songs and unnecessary dance.

Q. (Rorrkychand) What is the inspiration behind this ambitious project “MJN”?

A. (Mohen) It is a tribute to the Japanese soldiers and their relatives who visited Imphal every year.

Q. (Rorrkychand) Do you think that Manipuri audience would receive such an experimental film?

A. (Mohen) Of course, Manipuri audience will accept such genre, they have been bored with Bollywood format and same star casts. Out of odd 60 films produced every year, they see the same artists in more than 50 films which ultimately is a very difficult to watch same person repeatedly without much change in his acting.

Q. (Rorrkychand) But Mohen, considering present market of Manipuri films, how are you going to recover the cost of you movie?

A. (Mohen) If I failed in the Manipur market, I have two avenues- Japanese market and International audiences.

Q. (Rorrkychand) Speaking about pre-production stage; equipments, selection of locations and crews are the pivotal steps for such an international venture, what do you say?

A. (Mohen) Equipment we are hiring from our partners based in Mumbai and Chennai, in addition to few we have in our state. Location scouting has already done and we choose these locations which resembles the 1960-1970 period of Manipur. On crew part, we have taken this project after seeing the capability of our crews. Manipur is not behind from any Film industries- be it music, the cinematographer, the sound engineer and even the make-up artists.

Q. (Rorrkychand) The grapevine is that “MJN” is a multi-lakh project, what is the estimated budget?

A. (Mohen) Normal films in Manipur cost Rs 10-20 lakhs for a Digital format. Ours is in 35mm format and it is average as compared to Indian film industry. We estimate more budget than the Rs 80-90 lakhs. Most of the expenditure will be incurred in post-production and as we are having 3 languages, the film print will be more. Afterall it is a 35mm film. Distribution is a costly affair. However we will be minimizing the cost to make some profits as well for future projects.

Q. (Rorrkychand) It’s also heard that the lead actress in “MJN” is a Japanese.

A. (Mohen) Yes, we have been auditioning for the lead actress and find Yu Asada, a model from Osaka city in Japan to be our lead actress.

Q. (Rorrkychand) So, any particular reasons for choosing Yu as lead actor, why not to any other Manipuri actors?

A. (Mohen) We project the story of the film as real life incident and thought of essaying the role of Japanese niece by a Japanese blood. This is the charm of the film and we are confident Yu will portray the role given to her at her best level. We never thought of casting any Manipuri actor for this role of her.

Q. (Rorrkychand) Any other foreign crew apart from Yu?

A. (Mohen) Yes, some foreign crew will also be seen in the film.

Q. (Rorrkychand) A Few words about the protagonists?

A. (Mohen) It is an adventure film filled with many mysteries and adventures in the wild jungles of Manipur. With this film people could see some of the real incidents down the memory lane. Her acting should be natural, not conventional film type. It is like her journey in Manipur to pay homages to her Japanese Uncle as done by others all these years.

Q. So, is she going to deliver the dialogue by herself or dub by somebody?

A. (Mohen) She is learning Manipuri language for we are making this film in Manipur. This is the only way she can learn our rich language. She will do the dialogue delivery herself and is confident about it.

Q. (Rorrkychand) When are you expecting to shoot the film?

A. (Mohen) Starting October this year we will be releasing in the early month of 2013.

Q. (Rorrkychand) Tentative date of release?

A. (Mohen) Not yet finalized, depends on our International distribution network

* The exclusive interview is conducted by W Rorrkychand Singh for KanglaOnline.com. A Freelance Journalist from Kumbi Mayai Leikai, Kumbi, PO- Moirang,PS- Kumbi, Dist- Bishnipur,Manipur. He can be reached at rorrky{at}gmail{dot}com

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