Simi Khongtiang: the emerging voice of Jaiñtia cinema in Meghalaya
Parthajit Baruah writes on Simi Khongtiang, the emerging voice of Meghalaya's Jaiñtia Cinema.
Simi Khongtiang is a fresh voice in the Jaiñtia cinema of Meghalaya, which has emerged at a time when the Khasi and Garo cinema of Meghalaya is establishing a solid footing on the national and worldwide map. Even though the Jaiñtia cinema is still in its early stages, Simi has shown a lot of promise in bringing the Jaiñtia cinema to the national and global stage.
Simi began her career as a filmmaker with the 2009 film Skop (Hopeless Fellow), about a crippled youngster named Skop who leaves home because he believes his mother does not love him equally. He fell in love with a normal girl named Nisha, but she was in love with a married man, John. Nisha does not love Skop, but despite this, he continues to support her. She made the sequel to the 2009 film Skop is Back, which tells the story of Skop, who assists two sibling children in locating their absent father and ailing mother. The film, Ka Chithi (The Letters, 2019) is about a teenage girl named Darika who lives with her grandparents and wishes to trace her parents. The family never gave her permission to learn about them. She discovered her father's letters and resolved to discover the truth. Her film Syndong (Care, 2020) is about a doctor who, despite the pandemic and the stigma he must confront, chooses to care for his patients instead of his dying mother and leave home. With almost twenty films under her belt, she has made quite a splash in Meghalaya. Only three of her films received certifications of censorship: Iung U Slaek, Thong Iong Nga, and Datheh Lut 2. The majority of her works deal with familial tensions and focus on love and romance.
Simi, who now runs Eva-Yan Pictures Production on her own, has released her film Thong Iong Nga (My Goals), the first musical film made in Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The main obstacle she encountered, however, was film distribution, as there was no possibility of presenting the picture in theatres. In an interview, Simi stated, "After nearly a week, all the news about my film has spread out. I was ecstatic to hear people on the street reciting lines from my film. When high school and college students sing the songs from my film, I am enthralled. The entire journey gave me a lift, and now that I know more about the culture, social structure, and behavioural patterns of the Jaintia people, I want to focus more on their films. I feel that one day I will make a film that will travel the world and make Meghalaya, particularly the Jaintia hills, proud."
This short piece is an excerpt from the upcoming book "The History of India's North-East Cinema" by Parthajit Baruah.