By Waikhom Chitradhani
Imphal(Manipur), May 20 : Manipur’s only national award-winning cinematographer, Irom Maipak succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday after battling the deadly virus for the last couple of weeks.
Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS), in a release said that Manipur’s Cinema lost one of its luminaries to the dreaded coronavirus yet again. Irom Maipak succumbed to postcovid complications in the early hours on Thursday after battling the virus at Raj Medicity since May 4, 2021. A resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai, Maipak is survived by his wife and two kids, a girl (14) and a boy (11).
With this fatality, the film fraternity of Manipur has lost four of its personalities to the ongoing pandemic, the other three victims being Moirangthem Kamaljeet Singh, a.k.a. Em Kay Jeet, director-producer-lyricist, Sagolsem Romio Meitei, a rising actor from Kairembikhok, Wangjing, Hem Athokpam, cinematographer-editor, the release stated.
The release stated that in a spontaneous, virtual condolence assembly, members of MSFDS’s Executive Board and the Celebration Committee of the Golden Jubilee of Manipuri Cinema expressed shock at the sudden passing of Irom Maipak, who was also an important employee of MSFDS as a cameraman.
Acclaimed filmmaker, Oken Amakcham lamented Maipak’s passing. He said it would be difficult to find a replacement for Maipak. Oken had collaborated with Maipak on his films namely, “Cheina”, “Thajabagi Wangmada”, “Nangtana Helli”, “Tellanga Mamei”, “Amamba Lambi”, “Ratan Thiyam – The Man of Theatre” and “The Theatre Incarnate”. Many of these films were distinct by lucid camera works.
Art & Culture commissioner M Joy Singh shared his profound sorrow and said the void created by Maipak’s demise would be hard to fill up for MSFDS as well as for the entire film fraternity of Manipur. Art & Culture director Ng. Uttam Singh, while sharing his grief, praised Maipak for his incredible cinematography that distinguished him as a cinematographer par excellence.
MSFDS secretary Sunzu Bachaspatimayum, who had worked with Maipak on Monpas of Arunachal Pradesh, the ethnographic documentary for which Maipak was adjudged the Best Cinematographer (documentary) at the 49th National Film Awards, 2002 said Maipak is known for his uncompromising framing even in difficult and uncontrolled situations. Sunzu recalled that Maipak would not take a shot until the framing was perfect, a quality of a professional to the bone.
Other members of the Board who were present at the virtual meet also shared their grief and offered their condolences to the bereaved family.
Acclaimed filmmaker, Haobam Paban Kumar, who has collaborated with Maipak in several of his award-winning films like Phum Shang, Mr. India, Nupishabi and Kangla said, “I’ve lost a good human being, an artiste and a friend.” Further, Paban said that many of his films wouldn’t have been possible without Maipak and added, “Tamo Maipak was a born genius. Camera was in his blood. He had magic in his hands. He was a wonder in an uncontrollable situation.”
Filmmaker, Makhongmani Mongsaba said he is speechless by the sad news. Film Forum president, Samjetsabam Mangoljao said Manipuri cinema lost one of its stars. Veteran filmmaker, Laimayum Surjakanta said Maipak was a quality conscious cinematographer who never compromised with his work. Haobam Ronel who worked closely with Maipak said Maipak’s passing is a huge personal loss. Robin Wahengbam, an acclaimed fine artiste and a childhood friend of Maipak said Irom Maipak was a deep thinker, a compassionate artiste with a sense of humour.
The release further stated that as decided at the condolence meeting, candle lights were offered in the loving memories of Irom Maipak as well as of Em Kay Jeet, Sagolsem Romio Meitei and Hem Athokpam at the newly erected Memorial for Manipuri Cinema at the MSFDS complex at Palace Gate, Imphal maintaining COVID appropriate SOP.