‘Nana: A Tale of Us’, is one of the biggest Nagamese features film ever made by ace filmmaker Tiakumzuk.
Tiakumzuk Aier is a 34 years Ao Naga man, self taught in the field of Theatre and Filmmaking with only his love and passion for artistic expression as his guiding light. He has to his credit directed three feature films, Life Rewind (2012) The Wake-Up Call (2014) and NANA-a tale of us (2017). The filmmaker and head of the team at Dreamz Unlimited decided to talk to us regarding his biggest venture to date.
When it comes to quality films, no offence to other filmmakers, there aren’t many. When it comes to shitty films, pardon my language, there are a few which are so bad that they are good
Needless to say, Nagaland’s election policies roam at the heart of the movie. However, it talks about the difficulties that the common people would have to face due to the rampant corruption that pervades the societal structures.
“Nana is about an election. There is a thing called a clean election which is going around in the state, with a corruption-free election. Since the elections was around the corner, I decided to make a movie on the subject. It’s a family story and does not have political influences. It’s about how the elections affect the family. The concept of the movie itself is a collective effort; it wasn’t just me who decided to do this. The producers were involved in it as well.”
As with every up and coming director, the onus remains on them to produce quality films with their debut efforts. The case was slightly different when it came to Tiakumzuk, however. When asked if this was his debut film, he said:
“Nagamese is the language spoken in the film, and if you go by the language, then yes. Apart from films in my own dialect, I have made two Christian films as well. The other films which I have been involved in are actually remakes of Hollywood films. It was for a limited audience.”
The other films which I have been involved in are actually remakes of Hollywood films.
Nagaland is a state ravaged with its own problems of corruption and societal pressures, compounded by the fact that there is little to no interest shown in the state from other parts of the country. This could always pose a problem for the film industry, according to Tiakumzuk.
“There is no parent film industry in Nagaland, at the moment. Everyone is working individually and independently. There are only two theatres in Nagaland, both of them in Dimapur. The theatres themselves have opened recently. There were theatres before which showcased Hindi movies, but they were closed down. They now show Hollywood or Bollywood movies, but no regional films. There are very few filmmakers in Nagaland, and their movies are not made for the big screen. No local films have been shown in the theatres so far. It’s in an infant stage. ‘Nana’ is sponsored by the Church, not by an individual.”
As is understandable, the number of films produced in Nagaland pale in comparison to other film industries in the country. Tiakumzuk admits that he’s not sure about the total number of films in Nagaland, but proceeds:
“When it comes to quality films, no offence to other filmmakers, there aren’t many. When it comes to shitty films, pardon my language, there are a few which are so bad that they are good. *laughs* They make these movies and release them through DVDs. Those who are qualified filmmakers, they do not make commercial films here. ‘Nana’ is one of the biggest films in Nagaland right now, something for Nagamese people to be proud of.”
We bring to light the social issues in a sarcastic and comedic manner. Our motto is bringing a change, our dramas should not only entertain but also have a message.
Promotion of a film is imperative for it to reach a proper audience and to have a global appeal. Tiakumzuk talks about his promotional strategy for this film.
“It’s the first fictional film in Nagaland, and all the crew is from Nagaland, which is a first! We released the movie in DVD, and we have shared the trailer on our YouTube channel. We have sent it just to one film festival, and we sent it in November last year. There was a critic who took an interest in the film, and they screened it after it was passed by the board. I won an award for best director in the film festival. There were other films as well, from Maharashtra and Haryana to name a few.”
Amazon and Netflix, through their online streaming platforms, have helped various regional and indie films to attain global audiences. Tiakumzuk gives his take on this issue, and whether his film would be a part of this trend.
“I haven’t thought of that yet. I have neither censored the film yet nor have I put subtitles in it. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to go this far. Subtitles will be added later, after which it will be censored in Guwahati. Then I’ll approach the online streaming platforms. For now, the sound quality is fine for normal viewing, but it needs to be improved. This also includes lighting, since we used mostly natural lights. That’s why I was slightly apprehensive. Those who know the technicalities of this, they would make out the difference. I think the cost is quite high to enhance everything. It’s not easy.”
Many movies often have hilarious or unfortunate anecdotes to remember the filming process by. When it comes to ‘Nana’, however, Tiakumzuk says that the entire process was fairly straightforward.
“There was no problem while we were making the film. Everything was shot with a lot of support from the locals and the crew. Although, we did face problems with other things such as equipment and technicalities, due to the lack of quality equipment. The rest of it was pretty much fine. Nana actually turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters in Nagaland!”
He also talks about working with Zhokhoi Chuzho, one of the biggest actors in Nagaland.
“Zhokhoi Chuzho, is someone who have worked with John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha in Force 2, and also was a part of Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, and other Bollywood projects. We started off as actors in theatre, but I took to directing later. There’s a great chemistry between us. He understands the craft, and for him, it goes with the flow. For the newcomers, we need to explain everything, but for him, there’s no need. And it is great to have an actor of his repute to be a part of my film.”
Tiakumzuk then gives us a little bit of inside information about his life and what drives him.
“I’m quite conservative. Apart from promoting the film, I don’t like to go out much. The same is true for interviews, I don’t do them much. Even for the promotions, I am not involved much. I do my work, apart from that I am quite conservative. We do drama out here, other than shooting. I’m quite a workaholic, and I forget about my home related work most of the time.” *laughs*
Zhokhoi Chuzho, is someone who have worked with John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha in Force 2, and also was a part of Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!… it is great to have an actor of his repute to be a part of my film.
Surprisingly, Tiakumzuk admits to being a self-taught filmmaker, with no affiliations to any institutes. His ability to learn and understand the processes by himself is thus shown in his work.
“It’s all self-taught, I did a lot of research on short films. From shooting to editing, I’ve done a lot of research online and that helped me a lot. My brother is the editor of Nana, and we’ve been working together for quite some time. He’s very skilled and he helped me as well.”
He then talks about what started it all for him and his team, his content on YouTube through his channel, Dreamz Unlimited.
“We bring to light the social issues in a sarcastic and comedic manner. We started promoting events through those sketches. Our videos are for the common people. Our motto is bringing a change, our dramas should not only entertain but also have a message. As the channel grows, we have to address issues from all over the nation.”
North Eastern states have largely been ostracised, racially abused and taken for granted when it comes to development in any sphere. However, Tiakumzuk believes that the scenario is slowly changing; especially for films.
“Although Assam and Manipur are still ahead of us, the scenario is definitely changing. We will come together through cinema. People outside North East will come to know us better from these movies. With YouTube and cheaper equipment, people need to be coming up with more quality cinema.”
However, he does take into account the problems that the diverse culture and languages of the North Eastern states pose to the art of filmmaking for the masses.
“There is a setback for a few states in the North East, but not for all. For a state like Nagaland, with so many different tribes, our main language becomes English. But if you make an English movie, it may not be up to the mark. We speak Nagamese here, but it is very difficult to make a script in Nagamese. That could be a reason why the other states are ahead of us. Not everyone can speak fluent English, or understand it. That is also a problem.”
He gives his notions on the future of the Nagaland film industry:
“Even as a group, whatever we do, it will take some time. We need the support of the government to connect with the outside world. Some rules and regulations need to be followed in order to streamline the content. This will make sure that there is good content. In the future, our industry will flourish and we can make our mark in the world cinema as well. Our next step is Asia.”
As with every workaholic, they need something to drive them further. Tiakumzuk is no different and talks about his future work.
“I’m working on the script of the next film. If we get a good producer, I’d like to make another film.”
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