Bleg: Assam in Bollywood?


Dedicated to Malu, Pub, Meghali and Indu without meeting whom I would still have thought Assam and the Seven Sisters were another country where people largely wore grass skirts and animal bones and had tiny eyes. One incident that comes to mind is this one during counselling just before I joined NITK where I heard a parent reassuring another that his son will surely get a seat in the casual vacancy round…. who would come from Nagaland anyway. Turns out, people did. And some of them went on to top their class.

You see so many regional stereotypes in Bollywood flicks – South Indians (“Aiyo Amma”), Parsees (always suited and booted, occasionally with traditional headgear), Punjabis (need I elaborate?), Bengalis (the accent, first and foremost)… why, even Nepalis (all named Bahadur, who all say “Ji, shaab”)… but I’m yet to come across a main character from the North-East (apart from in Chak De)… why, even Danny Dengzongpa plays some firang or origins-unknown villain and not a Naga or Mizo. Or does my memory fail me? Or is it plain ignorance?

I’ve not come across any movie set in the North-East either. Though I think Tango Charlie had a few scenes with Bobby Deol battling insurgency in Assam (Update: Turns out it went on to be banned in Assam). And Dil Se was set in Assam (though everyone including me thought it was Kashmir) before moving on to Ladakh?

I’m surprised no one makes a movie about the separatist movements in the seven North-East states. Okay, maybe you can ascribe that to language difficulties (if at all you need to hunt for a reason).. but what about Assam? Bollywood seems to have only fleetingly, if at all, talked about Assam.

Though, a Kannada movie called Hoo Male was set in Assam, and it starred Ramesh Arvind (for those who don’t follow Kannada flicks, he’s a star). And it also had an ULFA militant spout lines like “Delhi to Mumbai is the same distance as Delhi to Guwahati… so why does Delhi concentrate so much on Mumbai and nothing at all on Guwahati?”. Oh, and it had the lead pair doing the Bihu dance, too.

So… is there a Bollywood movie set in the North-East that I’ve missed?

Ah… one comes to mind… Daman, starring Raveena Tandon. Won her a National Award for Best Actress. It had music by Bhupen Hazarika, their family name was Saikia, and the NE connection ended there.

Any NE more? Rather, NE at all?

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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9 Responses to Bleg: Assam in Bollywood?

  1. tarantinofan says:

    It’s sad. They’re part of our country and we rarely even see them on the news, but children falling down borewells in central India get live reports and breaking news status.

  2. Dipta says:

    There’s none that I can think of, which confirms the general apathy of the Indian nation towards the NE.
    Jahnu Barua – acclaimed Assamese director – has also not made any films on the state.
    Many of Bhupen Hazarika’s tunes are originally Assamese. I can think of a TV serial called Lohit Kinare based on stories by Assamese authors.
    No films, unfortunately.

  3. Arjun says:

    Why Assam? There’s been no movie set in Arsikere either. Sringeri had ‘Poorvaapara’ but without the whole Naxal backdrop. Of course, this was a ’60s or ’70s story, so there were probably no Naxalites there then.

    There can be this whole, amazingly cool movie set in Bellary too. Just imagining what Sergio Leone could have done with all that heat and arid land is delightful.

    I’m sure I’ve missed the point of your post.

  4. wanderlust says:

    assam is enchantingly beautiful. the natural beauty of the place is breathtaking. ditto for the rest of the northeast.
    have you watched the Piya Basanti video and liked the locations? That was Arunachal.
    The point of this post was that the North-East offers enough material to make movies – it has insurgency, terrorism, handsome men, winsome women, lovely locales… why don’t people make more movies there?

    i haven’t been to arsikere or bellary, but maybe you need to suggest these locations to Nagathihalli Chandrashekar or S Narayan.
    or maybe the guy who directed that recent shivrajkumar flick that got panned for the violence… it’ll be awesome to have a joladRotti-Western, or a Kannada adaptation of Godfather where instead of an oil merchant he’s a mining baron.

  5. vinod says:

    hi! just want to let you know about a film on the north east militancy.it is dansh *ing sonali kulkarni & kk.
    it’s allegedly a copy of a roman polansky’s film though.

  6. wanderlust says:

    thanks šŸ™‚ i had only fleetingly heard of this one long back.

  7. Ritesh says:

    Nice to see someone wrote about North East.
    Some more info of NE’s participation in Bollywood:
    Koyla (*ing Shah Rukh Khan) was shot in Arunachal Pradesh.
    Zubeen Grag(from Assam) sang the song Ya Ali form Gangster. He has sung many more songs in Bollywood movies.

  8. Vikram says:

    If you want to watch a good short movie about the NE, try locating Tales from the Margins. Its set in Manipur.

  9. Vikas says:

    Anybody has the theme song of Lohit Kinare?
    Or if you remember the lyrics?

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