From Shillong Chamber Choir to CBFC board member: The success story of Neil Nongkynrih

From Shillong Chamber Choir to CBFC board member:  The success story of Neil Nongkynrih

By Mewanshwa Kharshiing

Shillong, August 3, 2017: It is inspiring to meet people who were able to rise above challenges in the midst of insurmountable odds and one can draw inspiration from the blood, sweat and tears behind their achievements. Their determination and zeal is infectious and you can also understand their yearning to maintain their drive and continually evolve as individuals. You can understand the weight of their passion and focus when negating difficult times and convert that energy positively. Their authentic enthusiasm draws people together to share a common goal.

Shillong Chamber Choir’s founder Neil Nongkynrih is one such person who through his sheer love for music has been able to share his ardor with like minded individuals who have now formed into a group of 25 members which includes singers, other musicians and soloists who have put not only Shillong in the world map but also done the country proud through his tireless contributions in the field of music. What was mainly intended as casual musical sing-alongs at his residence in Pohkseh, Shillong for music enthusiasts over the weekends in the early 2000’s, the Choir has now grown leaps and bounds through his mentor-ship and have undergone numerous milestones and has been able to showcase their passion for music through various platforms.

In an exclusive interview with TNT- The Northeast Today, Neil Nongkynrih reveals the many dimensions of his personality which is not only constricted to music but also intriguingly his love for other pursuits which includes cooking, writing and also an avid follower of cinema.

On one side of the spectrum, we see the author in the person of Neil Nongkynrih through his children’s’ book called “The Only Begotten Son”. Neil said that it was not intended to be published as a book but wrote it primarily as a shadow play for a children’s concert in Shillong.

“Somebody re-discovered the manuscript a few years later and found it to be a beautiful story and then they wanted to publish it. It was never my intention for publishing it. It was first done in Shillong along with a very good illustrator and then we went to give it around to friends and family as well as children in orphanages and schools and it was never meant to be a career change, and it still isnn’t. Later it got published in America and it is now available world-wide.”

‘Uncle Neil’, as he is fondly referred to by his choir members, narrates on how his contribution would aid the cinema industry in the country. This came into being when he was nominated as one of the 12 newly appointed members of the Central Board of Film Certification in the second week of August, 2017.

Bah Neil further states that the CBFC constitutes a larger group of people other than the new appointees of 12 board members and the Chairman from various walks of life ranging from retired civil servants to musicians and also professional actors. The board members are called upon especially when there are scenes which are questionable and could bring about controversy and have been brought through the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal which is under the Ministry of Information and broadcasting.

This appointment will bring about a diversity in the CBFC decision making as Bah Neil is also the sole representative from the North East.

On asking him about his taste in cinema, he replied, “I am very retro and I would love to see more family valued centred films which would also be balanced out by other genres as well. We are afraid to make good old fashioned films. Amongest many, one of my favourites are the BBC dramas because they make you think.  A movie should have a good script and not so often resort to using commercial tactis and effects to sell a product.”

On citing an example of films which have invaded the country, Neil said that NOAH which is a 2014 American biblical drama film co-written and directed by Darren Aronofsky and inspired by the story of Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis; He said that the movie which was screened all over the world was utter rubbish because there was no background research done as compared to other movies like the ‘Lord of the Rings’ which requires reading of a lot of thick books. He further said that the movie did not do justice to its authenticity in comparison to the Bible and other scholarly researched publications and just had only some rambunctious big names like Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson coupled with a lot of special effects with no concrete story.

The prominent musician further said that one has to have some taste when it comes to everything. In addition, he said, “Just because a movie has a new twist does not mean it has sensible taste. There are certain things that one has to respect and acknowledge”

On speaking about the kind of movies that have raised eyebrows amid controversy, Neil said that we are still an India which is generally family centric and we have to cater to the larger audience.“Kissing on screen in Indian films has just recently been introduced. We cannot suddenly start copying the French who have so called evolved and who can take a lot more. They would consider some movies suitable for family viewing that would actually be totally different in the Indian context.”

Neil owes the broad gamut of his gifts and Talents to his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who inspires and motivates him in every aspect of his work.

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