Khasi hills a trouble hub

Shillong, Dec. 27: Meghalaya's filmmaking has indeed come a long way from Ri Ki Laiphew Syiem to Manik Raitong, and from Mon Ba Jwat to Meshua and Melody, and countless others.

But when the local milieu of the numerous romantic tragedies and comedies were devoid of the "high seas", there are places in the Khasi hills region which are home to largely anonymous "pirates" ruining the fortunes and dampening the fortitude of filmmakers.

If the absence of government support is not enough to dampen the spirit of filmmakers, anonymous pirates are always on the prowl to make hay from the hard work and investment put in by those in the filmmaking business in this part of the world.

"The entertainment industry is immense. However, here we have to face various problems ranging from the lack of proper theatres to absence of government support and to top it all, piracy," Pradip Kurbah, film director, whose romantic comedy Meshua and Melody was released recently, told The Telegraph.

Stating that piracy, which is dominant, was "killing" filmmakers and producers, Kurbah attributed the rise of piracy to people's lack of understanding.

"Earlier, we had tried to work together with pressure groups to stop piracy. But somehow it did not click. However, in Assam, bodies like the All Assam Students' Union play a big role in helping curb piracy," Sweety Jane Pala, film producer-cum-actress, said. Pala has produced at least three films so far, but like many of her peers, she has to constantly face problems from theatre owners.

Both Kurbah and Pala agreed that the enforcement of the Copyright Act should be made more effective and bring to book those who are practising piracy. But according to Kurbah, in the Jaintia hills region, the situation is magnificently poles apart.

In the land of the "black diamond", the inhabitants refrain from indulging in any kind of piracy and they also provide immense support to those who are into filmmaking, acting and producing.

Khasi filmmakers are also "envious" of their counterparts in Assam as Meghalaya's immediate neighbouring state has loads to offer locals who are in the filmmaking business.

"In Assam, it is compulsory for theatres to screen locally-produced films. Here, we have to pay at least Rs 52,000 per week to the theatre. We also need to pay five per cent entertainment tax on each ticket," Kurbah, who has also worked in the production of around 150 music videos in Khasi, Bengali, Nepali, Telegu, Jaintia and others, said.

He said, in Assam, the situation is different as the government refunds the previous entertainment tax paid along with interest. "The Assam government also funds at least 60 per cent on the films," he said.

However, the situation in Meghalaya is entirely different. "Here, we need to pay taxes when we go and shoot in any of the government-operated destinations. It is discouraging, though, as in each of our films, we try to promote tourism by going to places which can attract a whole bunch of tourists," Kurbah said.

The filmmaker also rued the fact that while the talent here is immense, film infrastructure is zero. "We do not even have an academy for films, theatre school or even a film studio," Kurbah said.

Merlvin Mukhim, who featured with Pala in Meshua and Melody, said while Khasi and Jaintia films have been coming up at regular intervals for the past five years, the need to provide more quality to filmmaking was required.

"Realistically speaking, we still lack professional filmmakers. Except for Kurbah, who also has an experience in Bollywood, those locals who are experts in the subject have all moved out because of the lack of support. But look at Assam. The locals have come back to make films, as the support is available. Manipur is also another classic example of a progressive film industry," Mukhim said.

While several films are being produced with the local talent that is available, local filmmakers like Kurbah, film producers like Pala and protagonists like Mukhim, will have to indefatigably tread on an arduous journey as they counter government apathy and people's indulgence in piracy.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have been able to purchase batting replacements for the loss of Michael Hussey and spin reinforcements in the form of Samuel Badree. They appear… More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »