Axone: a film that explores identity in this awry journey of making a recipe of disaster of North East.
This film in its hilarious tone is broadly about North-Easterners facing racism in the big cities. A day in the life of a group of friends planning a secret-surprise wedding gift for their friend in South Delhi’s Humayunpur is disrupted when they plan to cook a regional dish, Axone. This dish from Nagaland has a distinctive aroma which sends their North-Indian neighbours into a frenzy.
Coming from North-east I have always been questioned about everything in Mumbai and watching Axone, I resonated with the problems the friends faced.
In a bid to follow their tradition, the gang goes through a lot of struggle to make their friend’s evening the most memorable.The film starts with an intense scene where we see the friends move towards a dealer to purchase Axone.
One of the most fun parts of the film was when one of the lead characters, Bandang, tries to sing a Hindi song. It really made me and the audience laugh so hard because we all know how the North-Eastern pronunciation is different from that of North-Indians. No matter how much we try our Hindi is never perfect and our accent is always a problem.
One fantastic aspect of the film is that all the characters are grey, there is no right or wrong but only the force of conditioning. Most Indians believe that the North-East is completely foreign from the way how North-Easterners look to the attire they wear, to the food they eat to almost everything. We believe that they are different and hence should be treated differently.
One of the North-Indian characters, Shiv, plays a comical character in a stereotypical way, and tries every way possible to help this group and become part of it. Chanbi, who is seen as a mature person in the whole group battles with her own relationship with Bandang when we see her facing a racist encounter on the street. Bandang in fear of getting beaten up again fails to stand up for his girlfriend. Here we acknowledge the fear of these individuals living in a place like Delhi. The most startling part was by the end of the film when they have successfully organised the wedding but when Shiv comes to interact with Bandang in his hilarious way, Bandang ends up saying ‘bloody Indian’ to Shiv. This scene really made me think that how we are distinguished to such a level that we actually start presuming ourselves as not Indians, we are so traumatised by the stories that wherever we go we tend to make friends with people of our community only.
There are a lot of characters in the film which does not make sense to me but I feel they are there in order to give the feel of a particular community. The film ends on a happy note where they enjoy their freedom of following their tradition while exploring friendship and relationships. This film is a quintessential representation of North-East in Indian Cinema which has not been explored much but is a step towards equality.
As the director, Nicholas Kharkongar rightly said, “It’s not changing enough, but there is a change.”