CiNEmatters Ep 4 | Phijigee Mani sheds light on the insidious ways in which patriarchy governs life in Manipur
Firstpost presents CiNEmatters, a podcast examining cinema from the North East of India. In episode 4, we discuss 'Phijigee Mani' (2011), a National Award-winning Manipuri film.
CiNEmatters is a podcast by Firstpost that attempts to turn the spotlight on a lacuna in the discourse surrounding Indian entertainment — cinema from the North East, which continues to remain largely inaccessible in the age of OTT, when content in languages from across India and the world is just a click away on our screens.
In each episode, we discuss a new film available for viewing online, going beyond its cinematic scope to explore socio-political and historical nuances.
Tune into CiNEmatters on Firstpost's YouTube channel, Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.
Listen to more episodes of CiNEmatters here.
Episode 4: Phijigee Mani (2011)
Streaming on: YouTube
Director: Oinam Gautam Singh
Cast: Gurumayum Bonny, Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi, Abenao Elangbam, Y Kumarjit, Shyamdhani, Shanti, Sorojini
In the fourth episode of CiNEmatters, we take up the 2011 Manipuri film Phijigee Mani — a story of family, abandonment, aspirations and their manifestations in a patriarchal structure.
The film tells the story of a budding boxer Sanajaoba (Gurumayum Bonny), who becomes estranged from his family after losing a national match to a boxer from Kerala, consequently forsaking his sporting dreams and moving to a city with a white-collar job. He ties the knot, has a daughter, and all the while keeps his distance from his family where his mother pines away for him.
Phijigee Mani follows the point of view of Sanajaoba's sister Yaiphabi (Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi), who is a scientist. She sets out on a mission to reunite her family in order to end the suffering of her parents in the absence of their son. The film switches tracks between the past and the present, as it tails Yaiphabi on a bus ride to her brother's new home. On her way, she stumbles upon characters from Sanajaoba's past life — including his girlfriend — and reflects upon how circumstances have shaped the lives of men and women in her life, including her own, differently.
The film examines the unbridled privileges bestowed upon the male child in a Meitei family, where the parents, in spite of depending solely on the care of their daughter, seem to only value the presence and views of their absentee son.
Sound anthropologist and teacher of Sociology Sebanti Chatterjee joins us in this episode to unpack why Phijigee Mani is crucial to the landscape of cinema and culture of the North East of India, especially Manipur.
Listen to the episode here —
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Accounting for 47% of the insurgency-related violence in the North East, Manipur is today caught in a cycle of insurgency, ethnic strife and intra-state dissonance