Saturday, 12 June 2021 | Pioneer
As Axone celebrates one year, a YouTuber’s racist comments against a Northeastern MLA have underscored once again the importance of not ‘othering’ our fellow citizens. The film remains relevant even today because it is the first Indian film where Northeastern migrants living in a metro tell the story from their own perspective. A story, where they are full-fledged protagonists and not just incidental cameos. The film, streaming on Netflix, depicts how racism against Northeastern communities manifests in obvious and subtle ways as their cultural, sartorial, and culinary traditions are judged, mocked, and misunderstood. And how just the desire to cook a special pork dish turns into a mini cultural war in the heart of Delhi.
Lead actor Sayani Gupta says, “When Yoodlee Films brought this script to me, I instantly connected with it. There is so much that remains undiscovered and unexplored about the Northeast. I do believe that slowly we are emerging from a haze of ignorance to learn more about a region that is a beautiful part of our country. Axone is path-breaking because it has actors from the Northeast who portray experiences that are uniquely theirs. The film has initiated a conversation about inclusion that I hope will lead to more such films.”
Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice President, Films and Events at Saregama India Ltd, says, “At Yoodlee, we want to make films that say the unsaid and create a shift in thought and feeling. This was not a niche project for us but a story that deserved to go mainstream and I am glad that it did. We gave this story the care and the platform it needed to reach a larger audience and today, it is considered an essential film in Indian cinemascape from a cultural narrative perspective. We are proud to be first movers and hope to make space for many more trailblazing modern classics.”
Actress and model Lin Laishram who plays a pivotal role in the film, says, “Axone has proven that the Northeast doesn’t just have amazing food, sporting stars, scenic beauty or great music but also fantastic cinematic and acting talent. I feel so proud that Nicholas Kharkongor is now considered to be one of the most important pan-Indian directors.”
Director Kharkonger says that he took care to ensure that the story of Axone showed its protagonists in all their complexity as they struggle to make a living, seek and find love, and fight to protect themselves and each other from the harshness of a metro that mostly treats them as ‘outsiders’. He says, “Representation is important and that is why I wanted to tell a story about characters that cinema has largely passed by. I know that the film has changed perceptions and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I hope to see more makers and actors from the Northeast in the mainstream.”