There is no movie theatre in Mizoram—but Mizo films thrive

Bereft of a single movie theatre, how Mizoram produces and consumes its films: loud speaker announcements, door-to-door ticket sales, dubbing and directors who double up as producers, distributors and even actors

In Mizo, the word tlangau means local announcement. And every evening, in the neighbourhoods of hilly Aizawl, a tlangau blares out from loud speakers, informing residents about daily happenings: it could be about a polio vaccination drive, a reminder to collect a ration card, or even a death in the neighbourhood. On some days, rare as they are, it could also be about a film screening at a local community hall. For a state that does not have a single movie theatre, a tlangau becomes a crucial device in encouraging the public to watch films, made by an industry so small that filmmakers can be counted on fingertips, and where acting is never a full-time profession, but a side-job, or a hobby at best.

The first Mizo film was made in 1983: a love story called Phuba made by Biakthan Sanga. From then till now, only a handful of feature films have been made.

“It’s not that the public won’t watch. It’s just that very few local films are made. Filmmaking in Mizoram is not a profit-making venture. If you are business-minded person, this is certainly not a career for you,” says Mapuia Chonghtu, whom many refer to as Mizoram’s most “famous” filmmaker. Chonghtu considers his 2010 drama Khawnglung Run, set in the backdrop of a historical event, one of his “biggest hits.”

How much profit did he make? “Oh, I lost around three lakhs,” he says.

In Mizoram, like in the rest of the country, a hit film is measured by the number of shows it runs. However, in Mizoram, unlike the rest of the country, films don’t run in movie halls. There are no film distributors. The filmmaker then becomes a one-man-army: a director, a producer, a distributor and sometimes, even an actor. 

 

This article was originally published in The Indian Express in August 2018. Full article here.