“Art doesn’t give rise to anything in us that isn’t already there. It simply stirs our curious consciousness and sparks a fire that illuminates who we have always wanted to be” ? Kamand Kojouri
Performing arts which consist of music, dance and drama performed for an audience is one form of art that is dominating the market in a big way. The influence is starting to be seen in our North-Eastern region and in our State Meghalaya as well. Tribals are known for being very artistic and excel in all kinds of performing artworks. Unfortunately, appreciation of arts and artists is something that is still lacking in a big way. Nevertheless, over the years, the Northeast has carved out its own identity by churning out several films that have enriched Indian cinema. Renowned artist and actors who have made it to Bollywood are Matin Rey Tangu, in the Tubelight (2017), Reema Debnath, in the movie Bodyguard (2011), Andrea Tariang, in the movie Pink (2016), Geetanjali Thapa in the movie Liar’s Dice (2013), Danny Denzongpa and Adil Hussain, who has made his mark in Indian cinema, including mainstream Bollywood and international cinema.
The journey of cinema in what is now called Northeast India started in Bholaguri tea estate, located on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra, not very far from the historically – rich town of Tezpur, which is also called the cultural capital of Assam. The numerous histories of Indian cinema would not tell you that, because, in most of them, the genesis of cinema in the region is either completely absent or is just about a footnote. The fact is that Jyotiprasad Agarwalla, an icon in Assam and the scion of a business family that had migrated from faraway Rajasthan several generations before he was born, had set up a temporary film studio in this family-owned tea estate to shoot the first Assamese film. Titled Joymoti, this film was released in 1935, initiating the film movement of Assam and also the whole region.
Here in our State Meghalaya, film making has taken root many decades ago right from the year 1981, when Late Hamlet Bareh Ngapkynta’s film ‘Ka Synjuk Ri Ki Laiphew Syiem’ supposedly hold the record of being the first-ever film in Khasi. Years later, Late Ardhendu Bhattacharya’s 1984 film ‘Manik Raitong’ became the first-ever colour film in the Khasi language. After the 2000s when militancy in the state came down drastically, a market for entertainment and movies opened up. A lot of short films and telefilms started getting produced in the Khasi language.
However, the production of feature films in Khasi got a major fillip after the entry of national award-winning filmmakers like Pradip Kurbah into the scene. Filmmaking efforts in the State have now kicked off gradually with other directors, producers and actors joining the fraternity. The major problem for filmmakers in the region is the lack of enough theatres, with quite a few states not even having a permanent cinema hall. Another problem is that Northeast India is a virtual Tower of Babel with nearly 275 ethnic communities with as many languages and dialects – most of which are not understood by communities other than that which speaks it.
In Shillong, one of the actors who have done exceptionally well in acting till date is Albert Mawrie, an actor par excellence, who have won the hearts of many with his humble yet outstanding acting skills. Albert did his schooling from H. Elias Higher Secondary School, Shillong, and as early as 17 years of age, he started taking a keen interest in acting. Despite having made it big in the film cinema of the region, it would be worth mentioning that he has not received any formal training in acting, but for him, it was more of following his dreams and enhancing his passion. He started his acting career at the age of 19, in the movie ‘Hep’, the dance steps and songs of which have set a trend for many movies after it.
In fact, his interest in dancing back then has helped him to start doing music videos, which in due course of time led him to have an interest in acting. Albert goes on to say that he considers himself very lucky to have got constant support and love from his family members, friends and well-wishers. He gave much of the credit for his success to Mr Pradip Kurbah has been his mentor and guide and who launched him in the profession where he is today. Besides his family who always stood by him through thick and thin and the main backbone of his career, Albert also credits his friends and well-wishers who were the ones who pushed and encouraged him to strive for greater heights.
When it came to awards and recognition, movies that Albert was a part of like ‘Ri’ and ‘Onnatah’ were conferred the National award. His latest movie Iewduh’, has been selected and recognized on many National and International platforms in film festivals like Busan international film festival, South Korea and others. ‘Iewduh’, which was released in 2019, has created a sensational hit amongst the people of Meghalaya, in particular for our rural folks and those who moves day in and day out of the main bazaar to earn their living. The movie echoes powerful messages of what Iewduh as the main iew of the Khasis actually had to unveil. It was intriguing to witness how the iew shared stories of happiness, sadness, tragedy, and incidences that left a mark in it which lasted a lifetime. Albert’s role as the main lead in this movie was phenomenal.
While pointing out the challenges that Albert faced as an Actor in his journey as an Artist, he pointed out that non-existent of any school for acting has been a great handicap for the youth in the region, as they could not get themselves trained and be more skilful in the profession. Secondly, he opines that lack of collaboration to cater to the film industry requirements and human resources has led the fraternity to fail in getting its due recognition and support from the Government and other stakeholders. However, when it comes to payment for the assignments that artist are assigned, in most cases, individual needs are not met, and hence it pushes the artist to venture out into other sources of livelihood which would sustain them and their families, thereby opting acting as a part-time engagement.
Albert has acted in renowned movies like ‘Hep’, ‘Dei Maphi’, ‘Ri’, ‘Iewduh’, ‘Rock On 2’, ‘Gang of North-East’ to name a few. There are other projects in the pipeline which are due to be realized soon. Some of the known music videos which he choreograph and was featured in are ‘Mynsiem’, ‘Janai’, ‘Pahsyntiew’ and others. He debut in the Bollywood movie ‘Rock On 2’ and worked as an Assistant Director in few movies.
Albert was part of many plays (Drama) at All India Radio (Shillong) and was interviewed in numerous FM Radio and television shows. For his immense contribution in the field of entertainment and acting, Albert was felicitation on a number of platforms, and some of the important ones, include the 50th International Film Festival of India, Goa 2019, at the Directorate Information and Public Relations, Government of Meghalaya. Shillong, 2016, and at the 16 Nongthymmai MDC Award 2016.
Albert Mawrie has prominently made a mark in the film fraternity here in Meghalaya and it may be mentioned that he has taken this bold step without placing much importance on the obstacles and what lies ahead of his future. He is a firm believer that one should give their best in all that they do and opportunities will come your way. Interest, passion and dreams should never be compromised and criticisms should lead a person to do even better than what s/he performed in the past. Hard work, honesty and patience will give us the desired result, he further stated. He is currently working on another project and like all his previous projects; this one is anticipated to become a hit too. May his work and commitment to his assignments continue to motivate and inspire our youngsters who has a passion for acting and who wants to excel in that talent bestowed upon them. (The writer can be reached at [email protected])