Tripura being rich in cultural heritage has contributed hugely to the entertainment world nationally and internationally. Tripura is the state which has given music legends Sachin Dev Burman and Rahul Dev Burman to the music industry. Padmashri Thanga Darlong known for his expertise in playing Rosem (an indigenous musical instrument) and Padmashri Satya Ram Reang who popularised Hojagiri dance around the world are an inspiration for many. In the long list of people making a mark is actor Manoj Debbarma who is trying to make himself popular in the Indian movie industry.
Manoj started working in Kokborok films when he was only 20-21 years old. He was born as Chwngsa Debbarma but changed it to Manoj for the big screen. His first film was Mathiya, a Kokborok movie that highlights the deplorable tradition of witch hunting in the state. The film won a National award and was also showcased on various international platforms. After the release, Manoj got offered a serial named ‘Ang Saboni’ on Doordarshan which was based on a story of an ordinary person who struggles with setting up a career amid a job crisis. The series became an instant hit and was very popular among the locals.
After spending several years working in Tripura, Manoj went to Mumbai to further his career. He acted in 4-5 films and television serials. He says it was a good opportunity to polish his skills. “I urge more people to go to Mumbai and explore the scene there. One thing that they will definitely learn is discipline,” he says, adding that if an actor is hardworking they will definitely be called for auditions. “If there is a role that fits the actor, then they will definitely get calls from the producer.” He believes that Tripuri youth need to learn a lot about production and management to be successful. Manoj spent nearly five years in Mumbai doing various roles. He is now back in Tripura to add new dimensions to the existing entertainment industry.
It is hard to believe that Manoj Debbarma is now in his 40s. He is still physically fit and looks younger than his years. “I always wanted to be an actor and my inspiration was Jayanta Jamatia, a famous Tripuri star,” he says. His message to new filmmakers and music album producers is to not to limit themselves to only Tripura but also reach far wider ranges and to keep learning new things. Manoj Debbarma is presently shooting videos for different platforms. His dream is to become Kokborok Director one day.
Reminiscing about his past experiences, Manoj says that he learnt many things about film production from the Mumbai film industry. He has been trying to implement his learnings in Tripura through films and music videos. He has also launched several new people.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.