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Priyakanta Laishram : Manipur’s First “Openly Queer” Filmmaker

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by SPN Editor

Priyakanta Laishram is considered to be a flamboyant filmmaker and the “Queer Icon” of Manipur. Laishram, born on November 7, 1998 in Imphal, Manipur is a film director, writer, producer, and actor in Manipuri cinema. So far, he made 9 cinemas and won several awards at various national and international film festivals.

In the Manipuri film industry, Priyakanta Laishram is the first “openly” queer filmmaker.

Laishram is explicitly flamboyant and lives his life on his own terms with an unapologetic pronouncement. Through his films, lifestyle, films, columns, and media presence, people got introduced to an alternative philosophy of a life beyond the binary established by hetero-patriarchal societal norms which they had been unaware until now. 

This made people not only acknowledge that there were other forms of sexuality, gender identity, and desire than the normative ones, but also take into account the sexism, regressive ideals, and prejudiced temperament that people hid beneath the veneer of cosmetic respectability. 

Priyakanta Laishram must be lauded for his guts. He is the first Manipuri who dared to attempt the representation of homosexuals in mainstream cinema. With his work, he tried to give people an empathetic understanding of queer lives. 

Laishram’s cinema defied norms of gendered behavior, and his films celebrated the marginalized. He is probably the first openly queer male filmmaker who broke cinematic barriers through his subtle depiction of relationships.

Priyakanta Laishram
Priyakanta Laishram, experimenting new genre of cinema in Manipur.

Priyakanta Laishram’s forthcoming film ONENESS (2023) is the first gay-themed movie in Manipur. 

Some of his notable films are The Foul Truth – Amakpa Achumba (2018), It’s Not My Choice (2015), I am Special (2017), Who Said Boys Can’t Wear Make Up (2018), Spaced Out – Panthung Di Kadaaida! (2021) and Oneness (2023).

IMdb describes Priyakanta as an Indian film actor, independent filmmaker, writer, film producer, and LGBTQIA+ activist who predominantly appears in the Cinema of Manipur. He is a recipient of several international and national-level film awards. He is a native of Imphal, India.

Priyakanta Laishram is best known for making films on taboo subjects such as male rape, LGBTQIA+ issues, gender neutrality, drug menace, etc. He was also lauded for his 2020 hit Manipuri Talk-show Series Up-Close With Priyakanta Laishram Season 01.

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