In a first in Manipur, 33-year-old transgender actress Bishesh Huirem received the Best Actor award at the prestigious Manipur State Film Awards, 2022. Huirem received the Manipur Governor’s Award, La Ganesan.
Huirem received the award for his outstanding performance as a transgender character in the movie “Apaiba Leichil” (Floating Clouds), which also won the Special Mention award. Two other actors, one male and one female each, were also honored with Best Actor awards.
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While third genders have long been associated with Manipuri cinema when it comes to make-up and costumes, Bishesh Huirem has become the first to be honored with a state film award.
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The award ceremony for the 14th Manipur State Film Awards, 2022 was held at the Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS) on Saturday.
In an interaction with journalists, Huirem expressed immense joy that third gender artists in Manipur are receiving well-deserved recognition.
She also lamented that third-gender actors are often given the role of a comic book character in popular movies. Nevertheless, she observed that the film industry has also started to recognize the presence and contribution of transgender people like in Shung Leelas (a traditional play).
Bishesh Huirem is a renowned figure among the transgender community with numerous beauty pageant awards to her credit. She had represented India at the Miss International Queen for Transgender held in Thailand in 2016. She graduated in Professional Fashion Design from Garden College, Bangalore.
Bobby Wahengbam, director of Apaibi Leichil, noted that the film is among the few that attempt to portray the struggles of third gender people in society. He also expressed his joy that the film was able to reach a milestone when Manipuri cinema was 50 years old.
Sunzu Bachaspatimayum, Secretary of MSFD, said, “Normally, there are only two categories in the Best Actor award, namely male and female. But this time, we decided to include the Best Actor award without any category following the recommendation of the juries for the outstanding performance of Bishesh”.
Sunzu further said that the MSFD will present a proposal to the government to include a separate category for the third gender starting next year.
Meanwhile, speaking at the awards ceremony, Governor La Ganesan felt that much of the nation’s history is conveyed through films. Noting that cinema is a powerful medium, Ganesan urged filmmakers in the state to produce films that showcase Manipur’s diverse and rich culture. He also promised that he would give all possible support to facilitate the growth of Manipuri cinema.
The Best Feature Film award was won by ‘Eikhoigi Yum’ directed by Romi Meitei and produced by Chingshubam Sheetal. The prize for best director was awarded to Bobby Haobam for the film “Rongdaife”.
As for the non-feature section, the award for best non-feature film was won by ‘Ayekpasinggi Pukkei’ directed by Debendra Thiyam and produced by Brojeshwori Maibam. The film also won Best Film by a First Director, Best Audiographer, Best Musical Direction, and Best Voiceover or Narration. ‘Pabung Syam’ directed by Haobam Paban Kumar and produced by Films Division, Mumbai won Best Biographical Film. The film also won Best Director.