Online platform Culture Machine’s series, Being Indian’s latest video on Arunachal Pradesh is an unfortunate yet important initiative. Unfortunate because the over five-minute video had to explain how people in the state are no different from the rest of us. This is important to end stereotypes, ignorance, and reduce hate crimes against North easterners.
In the video, the Pune-based poet Priyam Redican introduces us to facets of the state and explains how their lives weave in with ours to form the connected existence of India. The different aspects: the tribes, river, and the bamboo houses feature in a collage of everyday life. Ayushman Gupta, director, Being Indian, says the idea came to him when the team travelled to Guwahati for a festival. “That is when we also visited Arunachal and were stunned by its pristine beauty. What also struck us is how little people from other parts of the country know about it,” he adds.
They decided to dig deeper into what it means be a part of a state that is identified merely as a part of the Seven Sisters and is beautiful enough to be called ‘paradise’. “Through the video, we see the almost-ignored part of the country in new light and are reminded of the fact that feelings and emotions everywhere are the same. Be it the love in a mother’s eyes, mischievous little children, the taste of the aloo gobhi or the care with which a farmer tends to his plants, it’s the same throughout the country,” he says.
When we pointed out that though aloo gobhi might be the same but the cuisine of the tribes of the state, like Nishi and Mishimi, are different from other parts of the country, Gupta explained that while the video acknowledges the differnce, what he was looking to project was themes that connect us in this diversity. “Though Rajinikanth and Shah Rukh Khan may not be the biggest icons there either, when we stayed at a school, the children were excited when they learnt we are from Mumbai and kept asking us about these stars,” he says.