Though Nicholas Kharkongor’s much-talked film Axone was well appreciated by most of the critics across the country, many in the Northeast region have expressed their displeasure at the film – starting from casting to script. Many even sent nasty messages to the director.
Axone was released on Netflix on June 12 and it was widely appreciated by the critics. After a week of its release, the director said it’s hurtful to be attacked viciously.
He, however, said that the biggest takeaway of the film is racism against the people of Northeast.
“But honestly, as someone who has, throughout his film career, stated his desire to make northeastern films, it hurts that a few of you have attacked me as viciously as you have, even sending personal messages of the most nasty kind. It’s like, in choosing to make a film about the Northeast, I had committed some sort of grave crime,” Nicolas said in a Facebook post on June 19.
Axone, a Hindi language film, follows a day in the life of a group of northeasterners in Delhi through a wedding, a feast, a landlord-tenant clash — and in them all, the quintessential northeastern experience in the big city.
“There are many facets of the northeastern experience of living in the city, and it’s simply not possible to get all of them right in one single film,” he added.
Axone features Sayani Gupta, Lin Laishram, Tenzin Dalha, Lanuakum, Vinay Pathak, Rohan Joshi, and others. Adil Hussain also appears in one of the scenes of the film.
Axone is a fermented soyabean condiment that is cooked with various items like pork and fish, among others. Axone has a strong smell and is popular among the Northeast people, especially in Nagaland.
But the Meghalaya filmmaker is happy at getting good reviews from the critics from across the country.
“The reviews talk about racism against northeasterners…that’s the biggest take away from the film, as it should be. After all, this is a film (despite all its flaws) that gives the rest of India a peek into the lives of a tiny minority of (mostly) young people living on the fringes of society, ostracised and terribly misunderstood,” Nicholas reckoned.
On a positive note, the director said that he is hopeful that there will be a larger conversation in the country about racism against northeasterners after ‘Axone’.
He also said that Axone will open the doors for more Northeastern films to come out of Mumbai and more northeastern actors in mainstream films.
Talking more about the film Nicolas said that it’s not only about racism.
“This film is — ultimately — about prejudices. One can be prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, colour of skin, class, caste and so on and so forth. Racism is just one kind of prejudice. I wanted to make a film that says we are all prejudiced in different ways, often without even knowing it (unconscious biases),” he added.
Edit: There was a typo in mentioning the language of the film. The error is regretted.