Sangai, the Dancing Deer of Manipur, is based on Keibul Lamjao, a dance-drama choreographed by Chaaotombi Singh for the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy, Imphal, a constituent unit of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. The dance-drama was first presented outside Manipur in Nritya Natika, an all-India dance-drama festival in Delhi organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi in November, 1985. Keibul Lamjao attracted critical attention for its sensitive treatment of a contemporary Indian choreography. Sangai renders the dance-drama in film the means of the medium harnessed to choreographic ends. Much shorter than Keibul Lamjao, the film retains the essential stage freatures of the dance-drama. Sangai tells of the plight of a species decimated by loss of habitat. The narrative comes from a Manipuri legend of wide popular appeal. Kedang, a chieftain, leads a hunting expedition into the forest at the king's command. There he traps a Sangai to fulfil a wish of his betrothed, Tonu, but returns with the prize to find her gone, abducted by the king. Sangai employs the legend to bring home its message of conservation. Sangai (Cervus Eldi Eldi), are a regional race of the brow-antlered deer. Peculiar to Manipur, they are now reduced to a herd of a hundred in the sanctuary of Keibul Lamjao. The peril they face is the peril of all species driven towards extinction.
Released on: 1987