axone

Guwahati, August 30, 2019:

Nagaland Director Nicholas Kharkongor’s ‘Axone’, a film that deals with the Northeast Indian sub-culture in national capital New Delhi, is creating quite the buzz on social media. The film, which is headed to the BFI London Film Fest, 2019, is already creating dialogue and debates on various forums due to its accurate depiction of the lowkey racism that Northeast Indians are subjected to, in Delhi.

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The recently-released trailer of the ‘Northeast-themed’ movie helmed by the 45-year-old Mokokchung native, is officially described as a “bittersweet comedy” that follows immigrants in Delhi who are attempting to organise a wedding party.

Taking the subject of food (and in this case, the pungent-smelling ‘axone’), the Mokokchung native Kharkongor explores all the tropes which are attached to Northeast East Indians dwelling in ‘dilwallon ki Dilli’.

The basic premise of the movie is that a bunch of Northeastern youths are attempting to cook ‘axone’, a delicacy cooked in the Northeast, but they run into trouble with their typical Delhite landlord (played by comedian Vinay Pathak).

Set in Humayunpur, South Delhi, the film depicts a group of friends who are on a quest to cook a batch of Axone for a friend’s wedding.

The movie explores the obvious discrimination the Northeasterners face from Delhites, especially in regards to their looks, food preferences, and lifestyle habits. This ‘low key’ racism has been the subject of numerous discussions, and yet, continues to remain a burning issue due to its relevance in modern times.

Many Northeastern people, for instance, often get typecast as ‘chinkies’ in Delhi society and are often shoved to the fringes of society, which can lead to a sense of alienation.

This phenomenon has been closely observed by many holly/tribal people, including the outspoken Member of Parliament from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who appealed to the rest of India to accept the tribal people as their own. “I appeal Indians to accept us as your brothers and sisters”, he had said.

This continuing alienation and neglect that the Northeast feels from Delhi was further exacerbated when Assam’s Bihu, the great folk tradition of the State, was made a mockery of during the launch of the ‘Fit India Movement’. The ‘fusion’ Bihu attempted during the ceremony left the Assamese people aghast.

Thus, these continuing trends, such as being called ‘chinky’, being derided for their ‘food habits’, and mocked for their folk culture and traditions — will continue to inspire more films like ‘Axone’, as films are a medium of social commentary and serve as a voice against oppression and discrimination. And Kharkongor’s ‘Axone’, we feel, won’t be the last to speak up about these issues.

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