Manipuri Poet, Srilekhak

Manipuri poet and playwright, Srilekhak (born Ksh. Mohan) at the launch of Yengkhom Kengba’s Manipuri novel at ROLs in January 2017. Srilekhak is one of the most experimental poets in Manipur. Influenced much by the Japanese haiku tradition of the east and the imagist and modern poetry, his poetry is characteristically sharp and formal as its primary drive. His metaphors and similes are unusually powerful unlike any other Manipuri poets among his contemporaries or younger generations.

His once-famous Times Printers (late 1980s – 1997), located on the leirak across from the old post office building at Kakching Khunyai Leikai, was the center of literature in the town of Kakching. Besides printing almost every literature book and magazine published during that period here, he regularly hosted literary readings and critical sessions in his press office.

My translations of his two poetry collections will soon come out from LSC.

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Yayati

Shots from the Liberty Theater director Uttam Kumar‘s Yayati translated and adapted by playwright Ksh. Sanajaoba from Girish Karnad’s play of the same name. The play premiered at LIBRAICK auditorium on 27 May, 2017.

I am not yet aware of the players and other necessary details. I will add them on the go.

Uttam Kumar and Ksh. Sanajaoba

While rolling up the sleeves for my film, Walking Home, I met the Liberty Theater director, Uttam Kumar and Manipuri playwright, Ksh. Sanajaoba at the Laipham Loknung pukhri on the outskirts of Kakching on 6 March 2017. They were having a lunch party there as a kick-start for the Yayati (translated and adapted from Girish Karnad’s text in English by Sanajaoba), which was to be premiered on 27 May 2017.

Uttam Kumar (Director, Liberty Theater, Kakching)

Ksh. Sanajaoba, a Manipuri playwright

Lehar: A Short Play

Last night at about 8 at the JNU administration block yard. Dastak, a students’ theater group. They performed a short play. As part of the ongoing protest. One of my friends, Vineeth S. was in the team.

Taking theater shots is notoriously difficult. For you to take good theater shots, you should attend the actors’ practice and rehearsal rounds so that you get the whole emotion and tension of the play, and to get ready with your camera at the real show with you already knowing which way so and so actors will face and how they will interact. The whole dynamics of the movements and emotions in the play.

I did not attend the Dastak team practicing the play. I heard that Vineeth was taking a part in the play when all the preparation had been over. I knew I could not take good shots. Particularly when it is a short play. Seven or eight minutes.

The play was fast-paced. A lot of active collective physical movement. The dialogue being in Hindi, I missed most of the meaning though I got the sense. The crux. The actors played crowd, representative roles. Unspecific, common people in the public space. Politically and culturally marginalized section. Politically and culturally privileged section. The actors taking one role now and another role at another time. One very effective thing was for them to have involved the audience by extending the space of the play into the audience, making the audience feel the thrill, when the guardians of the cultural and political status quo violently chase the rising subaltern.

It all happened so fast that I could not take any presentable picture. Nothing. Here are three bad shots which I took during the play.

And the two after the performance:

Vineeth (middle) with two other actors.