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Irreparable loss: Aribam Syam Sharma pays tribute to ‘first choice’ Irom Maipak

Aribam Syam Sharma (right) with Irom Maipak (left)

“Maipak knew that I desired to make another feature film. I thought we would discuss more about that once he recovered,” Syam said. 

TFM Desk

Renowned filmmaker and doyen of Manipuri Cinema Aribam Syam Sharma paid tribute to Manipur’s only national award-winning cinematographer, Irom Maipak who succumbed to COVID-19 on May 20 

Taking to social media, the veteran filmmaker wrote a long post about his experiences with the maverick cinematographer and his unfulfilled wish of making a new film together.  

The following is an excerpt from Syam’s Facebook post titled “Homage IROM MAIPAK (1969 – 2021)” 

“Maipak was a fine cinematographer. His passing away, all too soon, is a loss for Manipuri cinema. Our cinema celebrated its 50 years of existence recently. Maipak was born around the time of its inception. He should have lived to witness its next anniversary in another 25 years. This shall remain just a wish. Our fraternity has lost a precious friend, brother, and son. 

“Personally, it is an irreparable loss. Our association was long and rewarding. It spanned from Sanabi (1995) to Nongphadok Lakpa Atithi (2019). In between, we made many other features, documentaries and documentations. Most filmmakers might testify to such a long association as a good fortune. I certainly do. In our state that has many talented cinematographers, he was my first choice. 

“Maipak, like me, was unschooled. We were driven by a love of the artform. We started our careers by assisting others, and learning on our feet. He started by assisting the renowned cinematographer, Sunny Joseph on the sets of Sanabi. 

“Dedicated and keen as he was, his sense of commitment to a project at hand was marked. Meticulous and careful, his technical ability adapted and made up for the absence of adequate resources. His fluid and smooth handling of shots, across different formats, was a gift. 

“Maipak was more than a technician who executed the director’s vision. In our case, he was part and parcel of creating that vision. He studied and reflected on the character and nature of each project and placed within it each frame he composed. We shared a common sensibility and approach. He was not one to interfere with directions but one who refined and complemented them. If a take did not satisfy him, he wouldn’t shy from a re-take. He was dependable in the best sense of the word. Faith in him, as a person and as an artiste, came naturally. 

“Maipak was much sought after. He had an old-fashioned work ethic. He was the first to arrive on location. A soft-spoken gentleman, he got along well with artistes of different ages, temperaments, ambitions and sometimes illusions. He made connections with them on and off the camera. Those who assisted him have grown to become professionals. He nurtured them. 

“Maipak knew that I desired to make another feature film. I thought we would discuss more about that once he recovered. 

We worked together in the following films:

Sanabi (1995)

Yelhou Jagoi (1996) 

Shingnaba (1998) 

Loktak: The Dying Lake of Manipur (1998)

The Marams (1999) 

Thang ta: Martial Arts of Manipur (1999)

Paari (2000)

The Monpas of Arunachal (2001)

M.K. Binodini (2002)

The Golden Hands (2002)

Ashangba Nongjabi (2003)

M.K. Binodini: A Writer’s Life (2003)

Pandit Khelchandra (2003)

Rani: The Living Legend (2003)

Nilamani: The Master Potter of Manipur (2004)

Guru Laimayum Thambalngoubi Devi (2005)

Crossroads (2008)

Leirol (2008)

Mr. Manipur (2008)

Sankirtan of Manipur (2009)

Miraang (2011)

Leaders from the Below (2011)

Manipuri Pony (2012)

Leipaklei (2012)

Dasha (2013)

Raas Leela of Manipur (2018)

Nongphadok Lakpa Atithi (2019)

E. Sonamani Singh (2019)

A resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai, Maipak is survived by his wife and two children, a girl (14) and a boy (11).  

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