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'Mary Kom' struggles for a release in Manipur?

Ironically, boxer Mary Kom's biopic starring Priyanka Chopra might not release in her own state

Five-time boxing champion Mary Kom is hopeful that the film based on her life will be screened in Manipur, her home state. She says, “We are trying very hard for this to happen, but the movies association and underground groups should allow it. It looks difficult but we will speak to the government about the same.’’

Priyanka Chopra in a still from the film, Mary Kom
Priyanka Chopra in a still from the film, Mary Kom

In September 2000, Revolutionary Peoples Front, which has been fighting for a separate independent socialist state of Manipur, issued a ban on the use of Hindi and the screening of Hindi films and TV shows. They even conducted raids and confiscated thousands of video cassettes of Hindi films. Several cinema halls preferred to shut down rather than face attacks by the militant group for screening Hindi films.

Utpal Borpujari, a filmmaker from Assam, says, “In today’s globalised world, such bans have no meaning as everyone can access films through DTH networks and the internet. There’s no point in banning films from a particular language or culture except perhaps scoring some political brownie points for the militant group involved. It will be in the spirit of things if the film, Mary Kom, gets released in Manipur so that Manipuris can see how the story of one of them has been told on a large canvas. And why only Mary Kom, films from any language should be screened wherever there is a market for it. Even if one concedes, for argument’s sake, that Bollywood films are a ‘bad influence’ on Manipuris, does it mean that the rich Manipuri culture is so weak that it can get affected by such films? It’s best is to let people decide about these things.”

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