Typecasting Identity and Portrayal of Trauma in the Reel Rendition of the Northeast: A Cinematic Introspection through Select Bollywood Films

Abstract

Edward Said, in his seminal work Orientalism, opined that the colonialist thought process (the notion that the West is superior to the East) did not come to an end when the colonial rule ended, but continued in varied forms. The vision of the Northeast within the borderlines of India reiterates this idea when one envisions the area through the lenses of mainstream ‘Indo-Aryan' and ‘Dravidian' cultural practices. Often termed as a ‘conflict zone', the Northeast has always had a tense relationship with ‘mainland' India, due to the differences in opinion regarding societal and cultural practices, food habits, territorial squabbles, and religion. When it came to the representation part of the Northeast in various art forms, it almost always got moulded by the mainstream imagination, which had nothing to do with real life practices related to the Northeast, and Bollywood movies act as the perfect canvas for this. This paper would attempt to contextualize the (mis)representation of identity, challenges, contestation in the portrayal of Northeast, the evolution of the process ‘othering’ of the characters belonging to the region in the mainstream Bollywood films, like Tango Charlie (2005), Chak de India (2007), Mary Kom (2014), Pink (2016), and the recent web series Axone (2019). Incisively speaking, the paper would also gyrate around some major concerns like the problematic position of Northeastern consciousness amid the ideology of one-nation-one-language that has been perpetrated in certain ways since the Nehruvian times, typecasting characters while portraying them in popular Bollywood movies, casting actors belonging to the Northeast into stereotypical roles, bereft of variety, and ultimately how off-beat cinematic presentations in OTT platforms have poised thought-provoking questions as counter-narratives to mainstream Bollywood movies of the past

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Last time updated on 04/04/2023

This paper was published in The Creative Launcher.

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