Ishanou (1990) [4K RESTORATION]

  • June 15, 2024 | 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM | Saturday
  • Oldham Theatre


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4K Restoration
Year: 1990
Director: Aribam Syam Sharma
Runtime: 90 min
Country: India
Language: Meitei with English subtitles
Rating: PG


Best Feature Film in Manipuri
Special Mention


In the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, Maibis are female priestesses of the ancient Sanamahism faith, who are believed to be called upon by a higher power. The priestess’ journey into asceticism is told through the fictional tale of Tampha. Living a peaceful existence in the countryside with her family, she experiences transcendental interventions that lead her to divinity, a path from which she cannot return.

Ishanou was born out of a monumental documentation project that the filmmaker Sharma had done on Lai Haraoba, the most important religious festival for the Meitei ethnic community. Composed of ritual dance and music, the Maibis traditionally preside over the celebrations and perform in them. The film interweaves this documentary footage with a fictional narrative to create a hybridised expression of this sacred culture.

“Perhaps Manipuri culture is the only one in which a whole philosophy of genesis is propagated purely through the performing arts of Lai Haraoba. This unique aspect of Manipuri culture is the mystical canvas against which the human tragedy of the chosen one plays out.”

– Aribam Syam Sharma

Restoration Notes

The film is restored by Film Heritage Foundation at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and Prasad Corporation Pvt. Ltd.’s Post – Studios, Chennai, in association with the producer / director, Aribam Syam Sharma and the Manipur State Film Development Society.

Ishanou was restored using the best surviving elements: the 16mm original camera negative preserved at the National Film Archive of India and two 35mm prints preserved by Aribam Syam Sharma. The sound was digitised from the 35mm acetate print and the grading was supervised by Aribam Syam Sharma.

Funding was provided by Film Heritage Foundation with the generous support of Dr. Richard Meyer and Susan Harmon.

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