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Heartwarming Tale of Resilience: Documentary on Manipur’s All-Girls’ Football Club Premieres at Kolkata People’s Film Festival

The 10th Kolkata People’s Film Festival on Republic Day witnessed the much-anticipated premiere of Meena Longjam’s documentary on Manipur, shedding light on the remarkable journey of an all-girls football club in Manipur. Meena Longjam, the first female filmmaker from Manipur to win the National Award for her debut documentary “Autodriver,” crafted this new cinematic narrative titled “Andro’s Football Mavericks.”

Meena Longjam Andro Dreams
Credit: The Northeast Affairs

A Love Story Battling Adversities

The documentary, co-written and edited by Sankha, unfolds the love story of an elderly woman and her three-decade-old all-girls football club situated in a remote Manipuri village. The narrative weaves through the challenges of economic hardship, patriarchal norms, and societal orthodoxy that the club faces in its pursuit of the beautiful game.

Discovery of a Hidden Football Heaven

Meena Longjam, an avid football enthusiast, discovered the protagonist, Laibi Phanjoubam, and her girls through an article shared on social media. Despite initial scepticism from the club, known for their unfamiliarity with documentary filmmaking, Longjam embarked on a journey to the small village of Andro in Manipur.

Cinematic Exploration of Dreams and Challenges

The documentary captures the lives of these girls trapped in a severe financial crisis, yet harboring dreams akin to aspiring football legends. It delves into the personal struggles of a 17-year-old footballer who, despite her talent, faces economic challenges, eloping twice and navigating the complexities of motherhood. The film skillfully juxtaposes the aspirations of the girls with the stark realities they confront.

Acknowledging Collaborative Filmmaking

In a departure from conventional documentary practices, Meena Longjam ensures due credit to her co-writer and editor, Sankha. Their collaboration becomes evident in the cohesive storytelling, bridging events shot at different times. The film captures the essence of teamwork, likening filmmaking to a football match where each participant learns from the other.

Mystical Moments and Interpretations

An intriguing aspect of the documentary showcases the girls entering an unexplained state of trance before a crucial match. Meena Longjam intentionally leaves these moments open to interpretation, inviting the audience to contemplate whether it’s superstition, performance anxiety, or a unique ritual ingrained in their belief system.

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Credit: IDSFFK

Revealing Laibi’s Sustaining Spirit

While the documentary provides a glimpse into the lives of these footballers, it falls short of explaining how Laibi Phanjoubam manages to fund the club. Laibi, a woman of indomitable spirit, sustains the dreams of these girls through her involvement in handlooms and sericulture.

Beyond Violence: Documentary on Manipur

Addressing recent violence in the Valley, Meena Longjam shares that the girls remain unwavering in their commitment to football. Guarding the village against insurgents at night, they continue to pursue their passion during the day, symbolizing resilience in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, “Andro’s Football Mavericks” stands as a testament to the power of sport, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of those who dare to dream against all odds. The documentary’s premiere at the Kolkata People’s Film Festival heralds the recognition of a unique story that echoes far beyond the football field.

FAQs:

  1. Q: How did Meena Longjam discover the all-girls football club in Manipur?
    • A: Meena Longjam came across the club, led by Laibi Phanjoubam, through an article shared on social media.
  2. Q: What challenges did the documentary face during its production?
    • A: The film faced challenges in gaining acceptance from the club, initially unfamiliar with documentary filmmaking. Technical handicaps and shooting events at different times added complexity.
  3. Q: What is the significance of the girls entering a state of trance before a match?
    • A: The documentary intentionally leaves these moments open to interpretation, allowing the audience to contemplate the reasons behind the girls’ unique pre-match ritual.
  4. Q: How does Laibi Phanjoubam fund the football club?
    • A: Laibi sustains the club through her involvement in handlooms and sericulture, although the documentary does not provide in-depth insights into this aspect.
  5. Q: How do the girls continue their passion for football amidst recent violence in the Valley?
    • A: Despite facing adversity, the girls guard the village at night and pursue football during the day, showcasing an unwavering commitment to their dreams.
Andro Dreams 1
Credit: The News Mill

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