The Northeast is a complex, mesmerising bundle of stories. This was one of the interesting conversations that emerged from a two-day hybrid event, the ‘North East Connect 2022’ by ETTravelWorld and ETHospitality held in Delhi and virtually. While Day 1 was an offline event, that was held in Delhi, part two of the event entailed a virtual panel with award-winning writer & filmmaker Bhaskar Hazarika.
As someone who believes that the range and depth of cinema outside the Bollywood matrix are stunning, said Hazarika, shedding light on the stories of the northeast in a Fireside chat with ETTravelWorld’s Editor, Navneet Mendiratta. Hazarika’s directorial debut ‘Kothanodi’ won the Best Assamese Feature Film at the 63rd National Film Awards in 2016.
The discussion incorporated interesting bits on the role of Bollywood in promoting artists and films emerging from the Northeast, and how the film industry in the seven sisters has to rely on outsiders for the same instead of the industry in their own country. Hazarika also spoke on the issue of stereotyping, which has been quite prevalent for a long time.
“It all depends on the storytelling. We can either make an art-house film which is quite complex to understand, or we can try to do it in a commercial meter – it will remain very honest since it is coming from the people from the region itself,” he said.
“As far as the message is concerned, if the story is well and honestly told, it will reach the people. This is the beauty of any art form – it will exist, and two people can take any takeaway as they want which can be quite different from each other. It all depends on the audience and how they receive it; we just need to make sure that it is accessible to people,” he added.
The filmmaker also mentioned that the Northeast is a small community when compared to majorities like the Hindi-speaking community which mostly consumes Hindi films, making it tough for them to be a part of mainstream numbers. While box office success and numbers are something that they have stopped chasing a long time ago, critical acclaim and wide reach are still on their radar. He believes that the northeast has its own unique cinematic advantages, from European sunlight and natural beauty to a mixed cultural pot – and these can be utilised with a strategy in place.