The pandemic knocked down the art and entertainment industries and put filmmakers, musicians and artists in a fix. Film shoots and live music shows were cancelled; artists were staring at a blank canvas as exhibitions were called off; aficionados were left brooding over the lull and promoters and producers were counting their losses. It was a mess. In the North East in general and Meghalaya in particular, film and music sectors were, and are still, gasping for breath as the government put numerous prohibitions on movement and gatherings to contain the highly infectious and mutating virus. As business saw a downswing, creativity flourished, even more during the imprisonment. Artistes discovered another facet of life and added a new dimension to their respective artforms. On lens, on the canvas or in the strumming of chords, it was hope that reverberated amid unpredictability. The pandemic, though created havoc around the globe, failed to put a leash on creativity. MT spoke to two talented artistes, an award-winning director and a doyen of western music in the North East, and asked them about their experience of living a restricted life, their works during the pandemic and the year ahead. This is what they have to say:
National award-winning director Dominic Megam Sangma is an alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute. His film MA.AMA became the first film in Garo language to win a national award. The co-founder of Kelvin Cinema Festival of Films was working on his second feature film, Rapture, when the pandemic struck. “It’s an experience of a lifetime,” said the young director while sharing his experience of the pandemic and the lockdown. He also shared his views on the impact of Covid-19 on the film industry in the region and the year ahead.
How was your experience this year?
It’s an experience of a lifetime, not only for me but I am sure for most of us. I just hope we won’t have to experience such things in the future or we better prepare ourselves to see something worse than this. We cannot go on with our arrogant attitude of believing man is on top of other beings on this Earth. We should humble ourselves with the realisation that all our sciences, modern civilisation and with our experience of living on earth for million of years, we could not do much to this virus.
What new projects have you worked on?
Nothing much, apart from working on my next film Rapture, which I was supposed to shoot this year. But I am looking forward to shooting next year. I shot the music video and some corporate and short documentary films.
How have film industries in NE suffered?
It’s not only in the North East but filmmakers across the world have suffered because of the pandemic, lots of project were halted, even film festivals were badly affected. Many companies were shut. Same thing happened in the North East, I couldn’t shoot my film. And I believe many people couldn’t do the same. Many technicians became jobless.
How do you plan to make up for the lost time?
Honestly, I didn’t feel I have wasted time. Yes, I am sad that I couldn’t shoot my film but it really doesn’t matter because there are more important things than filmmaking in life. I got a lot of time to read, further work on the script, to introspect on life, spend time with family. In fact, I feel that 2020 is a complete cycle of an era, from here on we are going to go on to a different cycle.
How have you utilised the lockdown and the pandemic?
I did lots of thinking and introspection on life — who we are on this earth? How should we be living? Read books that I was postponing for a long time. And watched the world go on and got the chance to see and witness how humans react to the worldwide pandemic, sometimes it’s tragic, sometimes comical, sometimes touching, sometimes disgusting but that’s who we are. We are human.
Make a wish: In 2021, there will be….
The only thing I wish is, we can meet each other again without wearing mask and fear of spreading diseases, we can hug each other, shake hands and break this imposed isolation in 2021.