We know about Rajkummar Rao's APSA, but not Manipur's Haobam Paban Kumar: Adil Hussain

The critically acclaimed actor says role models are slowly emerging from the northeast states but it would take time.
Adil Hussain
Adil Hussain

KOLKATA: Critically acclaimed actor Adil Hussain says role models are slowly emerging from the northeast states but it would take time. He drew attention to the absence of awareness about filmmaker Haobam Paban Kumar's special mention at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards for the Manipuri movie "Lady of the Lake".

"He (Kumar) got it, but we don't know about it. But we know about Rajkummar Rao's win," Adil pointed out during a session at the India Today Conclave East.

India's Oscar entry "Newton" secured two wins at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Brisbane on Thursday, with Rajkummar Rao winning the best actor and Mayank Tewari and Amit V. Masurkar claiming the best screenplay honour. Manipuri movie "Lady of the Lake" won a special mention.

Asked about role models emerging from the northeast states, the "Parched" actor responded positively, citing examples.

"It's happening with Papon from Assam. He is becoming famous across India for singing in Hindi films. I come from a small town called Goalpara in Assam... When they see Adil is doing films across the globe, (people feel) if he can do it, then we can do it... There is amazing amount of talent in the region," he said.

"The discourse has just started a few years ago... (the Look East and Act East policy). It will take a few generations, but with the help of information technology, it will go faster," added Adil, who has acted in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Norwegian and French films.

He added that the "narrative" of reverse racism needs to change and in today's day and age, he sees that evolving in the northeastern states with more exposure.

"When people from this part of the country go to northeast, when they go they can be asked 'Oh, you have come from India'... I have experienced that, but it was long back. I haven't faced that recently," said Adil.

He also said dark actors always being typified as villains also needs to change.

"We need to find ways to evolve from this narrative of reverse racism. A dark actor will always get to play negative characters," the 54-year-old added.

Assamese author Mitra Phukan urged the authorities to help develop infrastructure in the northeastern states so that more people can visit and tourism is enhanced.

"Everybody wants to go to the northeast. But the problem is infrastructure. The roads are not good enough. Except larger towns, there aren't enough good hotels. There is a threat of insurgency. Who will want to go like that?" she questioned.

The writer of "The Collector's Wife" added food bridges barriers and the fact that 'momo' is so popular across the country shows that. She also informed, conversely, that South Indian delicacy 'idli' is a favourite of many Meghalayans.

"Naga food is becoming very popular, Assamese food is also very popular and there is of course momo everywhere. Conversely, idli is becoming more popular in Meghalaya for instance," she said.

Meiyang Chang, who is of Chinese descent, born in Dhanbad, said he takes the catcalls of "Chinki" in his stride, and added that the situation has improved recently.

"I am not called a 'Chinki', but an assortment of sounds which sound like many things. I get offended when I hear that. I reply with a smile. Only when it gets beyond a limit, I react.

"For the longest time, I didn't think I was different. I had a Bihari accent as I am from Dhanbad. I used to tell people I look like you. I started realising later I look different after people asked me out of curiosity and not some malice. It's not always out of malice that people call you stuff," said the 35-year-old singing reality show "Indian Idol" contestant.

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