THE INTERPLAY OF FOOD, IDENTITY AND RACISM IN 'AXONE'
Northeast Today|July 2020
THE INTERPLAY OF FOOD, IDENTITY AND RACISM IN 'AXONE'
The arrival of Kharkhonger's Axone on Netflix is aptly timed when the country is witnessing a new breed of racism towards the people of North East India.
Wungreiyon Moinao

Racism targeted towards oriental Indians has been an everyday affair, but with the pandemic, it has transitioned to take a different turn. From 'Chinky' or 'Momos', they are now maligned as 'Corona'.

Produced by Yoodlee Film, Kharkhonger’s movie is a social narrative projecting the subtle interplay of food, identity and racism. It has been seen that, a spate of reviews has accused the filmmaker of narrating filtered racism, made palatable for the mainstream viewers, rather than dealing with the bare truth. For many, instead of voicing awareness on racism faced by the Northeasterners, the movie is steeped in the didactic message calling out to mingle and assimilate with the mainstream culture. However, it will be a churlish commentary to tag the movie as an apologist (of racism) for not confronting archetypal racism more brazenly. The movie should not be limited exclusively to racism. There are other narrative strands like food and identity which are also integral to the movie. It is as much of food and identity as it is about racism.

Food is at the heart of the movie. Every other thing hangs around it. Food manoeuvres every action an incident in the movie: the confrontation on the street while buying groceries (where Chanbi was physically assaulted by standing up to racist slur), an altercation at the apartment with the landlady and the neighbors for cooking Axone and the narration of Bendang (Lanuakum Ao) being severely assaulted at Lajpat Nagar all play out in the process of preparing the dish.

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July 2020