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Still waters run deep: Haobam Paban Kumar on the risk of using music in film

Haobam Paban Kumar, director of Manipuri feature Lady Of The Lake, discusses the role of music in his films and the role of women in Manipuri society with Meenakshi Shedde, South Asia consultant to the Berlin film festival.

Our Correspondent

Berlinale 2017 saw a number of fantastic Indian films make their mark on the international stage. Among these was the Manipuri film Lady Of The Lake by Haoban Paban Kumar.

After being premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea late last year, Kumar's film made its European debut at Berlin last week, being screened at the International Forum of New Cinema. Having entered in the most daring segment of the festival, the film received positive response.

Speaking with Meenakshi Shedde, South Asia consultant to the Berlin festival and a correspondent for Cinestaan.com, director Paban Kumar said, "Berlin is fantastic. My first premiere, houseful! I never expected that. The audience sat through the Q&A. We had a nice session."

A minimalist feature film, Lady Of The Lake has little dialogue and no musical score, something rare for a film from India. Kumar explained, "It is a very conscious thing [not to use music]. I believe that music is very strong. Frankly speaking, I don't know music very well. But then, you know, it is really difficult to find the right music for a film. Being a documentary filmmaker, I am not into artificial things. I am more into realistic things. Somehow, this film was about creating the ambience of the place through the sound. The music will be there, through the ambience of the place." 

As for the stillness in his first feature film, the director said it evoked the ambience of the Northeast region of India. "We haven't seen many films with such treatment because Indian cinema has not seen many films from the Northeast," he said. "It is about the people there, the way I am." 

Watch the full interview here: