A Japanese girl's search in the remote villages of Manipur for her uncle, who was a soldier during World War II, and many more stories that unfold during her journey will be shot on big screen in Manipuri language. To be directed by Mohen Naorem, My Japanese Niece will see Japanese model Yu Asada essaying the role of the girl, also named Asada. It is based on the story of the Japanese soldier who was left behind in Manipur after the war and people still believe he exists. The film will be in Manipuri with English subtitles and later dubbed in Japanese for a release in Japan. The entire film will be shot in the breathtaking locales of Manipur.
Mohen says every year many Japanese come to pay homage to their lost forefathers in Manipur. When Mohen first narrated 23-year-old Asada from Osaka about the project, she was very excited. The story goes that "Asada too visited this time to pay homage to her uncle (her father's elder brother) who was a soldier during WWII. When she was in Manipur, she had a weird dream. Her uncle came in her dream and asked her to visit a village where he had kept some memories. She and her Manipuri guide then search for her uncle's secrets," says Mohen. "Down the memory lane, she hears about a Japanese old man who was living in that village for a long time. He died a few months ago. But Asada finds many secrets, memories and belongings of her uncle as well as documents, unposted letters, artifacts and dairies of soldiers who were lost," added Mohen.
Mohen says, "We plan to start the shoot in October-November once Asada completes her modelling assignments," he says, adding the shoot is expected to be completed in a start to finish schedule. "The crew and other cast will be from Manipur. Besides, Asada, some othere supporting actors will also be from Japan. The expected budget is close to a crore. Special emphasis will be given to post production as we are required to recreate the Imphal of the 40's to recollect few scenes of Japanese soldiers in Manipur," the director says.
According to Mohen, "Our forefathers and those who witnessed the Second World War will never forget the courage of Japanese soldiers. Our grandfathers called the War as Japan War, showing how popular" is Japan in this state.
"After the recent earthquake in Japan, people from Manipur voluntarily came out to donate and the sympathy was also pouring from every Manipuri living abroad. The Japanese government is also helping
Manipur in many ways like offering hospitals and sericulture projects from time to time. It is time to show our love to them."
Mohen says Manipuri filmmakers have been talking with Japanese, Korean and Russian partners for a joint venture project of popularizing regional talents and cinema. "We realised the possibility of strengthening such bonding between Japanese and Manipuris through films and choose the subject of the My Japanese Niece hence," he says.
The recently concluded First Imphal International Short Film Festival held from 15-18 April 2012 at Imphal, Manipur was organised under the aegis Legend Studio Manipur and spearheaded by Mohen Naorem who was also the festival director.