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First big-budget Mizo movie an instant hit

Saturday, August 25, 2012

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Aizawl, Aug. 24: Mapuia Chawngthu’s long-anticipated film Khawnglung Run ((The plunder of Khawnglung) was released here yesterday to packed halls and community centres.

People here, who had been eagerly waiting for Chawngthu’s latest offering since he started the protect two years ago, thronged the film venues — community centres and halls (as there are no cinemas here). Tickets for the inaugural show at the Chanmari community hall sold out within half a day, while another venue, Vanapa hall, was virtually mobbed by viewers.

Being the first “big budget” (more than Rs 11 lakh) production in the Dulian dialect, the lingua Franca of the Mizos, the film was an instant hit, as evident from the applause reverberating in Vanapa hall at the end of the show.

Produced by Leitlang Pictures, Lunglei, the film tells the story of a star-crossed couple against the backdrop of petty feuds between the Pawi and a Lusei villagers in the late 1850s which led to the plunder of Khawnglung village by Pawi chiefs, marked as the bloodiest and cruellest attack in the entire history of the Mizos.

Khawnglung Run’s epic love angle, which has been kept alive through the ages by numerous versions of the story of Chala’s bleak search for the love of his life, Thangi, who had been carried off from the plundered village as a slave by one of the Pawi warriors, was more captivating for the viewers than anything else.

Singer Alex Lalchhuankima did his best to give a spirited rendition of Chala’s evolution from a boyish young Lusei hunter in a happy village to a desperate man hunting for his lost soul mate, while Zoremsangi Hnamte brought Thangi to life on screen with her beautiful earthy looks and her fine acting.

The film was set in a specially created village near the original Khawnglung village, 145km from the capital. The cast and crew spent around six months on the set shooting the film. As history goes, the entire village was burnt down and the people massacred. The set, too, was burnt down, providing the film some of its best shots against the eerie light of the fires and the dancing shadows, while portraying the harsh realities of tribal warfare in the 18th century as well as the nuances of honour and friendship in time of distress among the villagers.

The director told The Telegraph that his objective was to create interest in youngsters about their own history and culture, which he felt, he had achieved through the film.

Many non-Mizo viewers, however, felt that English subtitles were urgently required.

The actors who played the chiefs and warriors were outstanding, particularly, the one who played the role of Thangi’s slave master, who lent the screen the brooding presence of the legendarily feared Pawi raider. Chawngthu said though many of the actors were amateur, some among them, including the female lead, were National School of Drama products.

The theme song was the much-loved old Mizo ballad, Khawnglung Run, which was sung by C. Lalruatkima supported by the Battle Cry Band. Kima Chhangte was the music director while voice recording was done at Small World Multimedia, Serkawn, Lunglei. Another unique feature of the film is that it was produced totally at Lunglei.

Chawngthu said the film would take time to break even as the budget was high, but he planned to take it to several film festivals. He was confident that he was true to his calling as a filmmaker, which was to entertain. “The public find my film entertaining and this is enough to make me happy,” he said.

~The Telegraph/ Linda chhakchhuak

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