Curated Conversations is a series of talks moderated by Tanvi Shah, a director and theatre-maker, facilitated by the Drama School Mumbai. The series approaches theatre-makers as citizens committed to creating a fairer, and more just world.
This second iteration of Curated Conversatons features Tanvi Shah in conversation with Heisnam ‘Ima’ Sabitri, the Mother of Manipuri theatre about how art and life collide when performances foretell real life events, and how to treat both with respect and dignity.
Presently, Ima Sabitri works as a Guru or ‘oza’ at the Kalakshetra Manipur. A popular child star of Manipuri Opera theatre in the 1950s, she learned her craft in Gurukul tradition from her late aunt Smt. Gouramani Devi. The 60s saw her on the proscenium stage and in the 70s, she joined H. Kanhailal (her husband in real life) to devote herself to the cause of experimental theatre. She has received many laurels and awards including the State Awards for Theatre (1998) and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (1991). In 1991, she was adjudged the best actress for the performance in Migi Sharang, presented at the 3rd Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre held in Cairo. She was a Majlis Fellow, honoured by Nadikar in 2002 in connection with the year of women empowerment. She received the Natya Ratna in 2006. She was also a member of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi nominated by the Govt. of India. She received the Padma Shri in 2007.
Today at the age of 74, her energetic, sensuous and lyrical style of acting makes her a rare world class actress.
The talk was live-translated by Bobo Khujairam, a close observer of human stories, and an independent filmmaker with more than ten years’ experience in film and television. Bobo has worked with veteran filmmaker, Aribam Syam Sharma as assistant director, script writer and actor. He juggles his vocation between filmmaking and journalism. Writes extensively for the Imphal Free Press, an Imphal (India) based newspaper, he is with the editorial desk of the paper. He is also with the Editorial Collective of www.yendai.org, an e-journal.