3/14/2011 | India , Manipur

TV auditions in Imphal: Mainpur’s got (some) talent

Our friend Deepak was responsible for organizing the Manipur auditions for a talent competition reality TV show, to be aired on Indian TV.   We went along to watch as it was an opportunity to see cultural groups perform traditional Manipur dance, and martial arts.  Unfortunately interspersed among theses more traditional groups were several less than spectacular interpretations of modern dance, pop singing, and other displays of not so talented, talent acts, all hoping to launch their careers of stardom on the reality TV show.  There were a few of the non traditional acts that were pretty impressive, including a break dancing 6 year old, aspiring to be Manipur’s Michael Jackson, and making a very good run at the title.

A double booking of the hall meant that the auditions were interrupted for the performance of a one woman play about the life of Irom Sharmila, Manipur’s civil rights activist who has been on a hunger strike for 10 years in an attempt to get the Armed Forces Special Powers Act repealed.  The play, performed by Ojas Suniti Vijay a woman form Pune, was unexpectedly excellent.  The powerful performance was both well acted and informative, as it documented her struggle and years in prison being force fed at the hands of the Indians.  The irony of a woman using the same techniques Gandhi used against colonial oppression to highlight the Indian Army’s oppression seems lost on many in power.  I was surprised to hear after the show that the woman has performed this play all over India.  I was skeptical at the reception it would receive in a country where the Army is so highly esteemed.  She admitted that the turnout was often low but that the people who did come were at least provoked into thought about the matter, and noted that it was India’s democratic ideals and freedoms that allow her to perform her play.  Certainly a similarly critical performance would not be permitted in neighboring Myanmar or China.

3 comments to TV auditions in Imphal: Mainpur’s got (some) talent

  • Great photos Micah and interesting to see the dancing and Holi festival in Imphal. I didnt see any of this when i visited Manipur.

    I wonder how someone can be on hunger strike for 10 years! Shouldnt she have died of starvation by now?!

    Keep up the good work and i will read more of your blog. My own blog is very behind so i will only get around to Manipur in a long time from now. I visited the south coming from Mizorum which was very interesting and pure nature. Hardly anyone living there.

  • Micah, great blog. Nice to read about my state from a foreigner.

    @Nick, about your query
    [I wonder how someone can be on hunger strike for 10 years! Shouldnt she have died of starvation by now?!]

    She has been nose-fed forcefully for the past 10 years by the Govt. As you may be knowing, Committing suicide is a crime and punishable by 1 year acc to IPC. Govt has put her in hospital security ward and is not allowed to meet anyone without prior permission. If you happen to visit Manipur in near future, please try and visit her.

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