Noted filmmaker Jahnu Barua, who spoke on the challenges of mainstreaming Northeastern cinema on a national and regional platform, said that cinema can put the region on the international stage. However, Baruah warned that 'opening' up the Northeast to the world could present its own set of challenges.
Barua said that mainstreaming of Northeastern culture and its incorporation into the Bollywood mainstream could lead to 'cultural appropriation and mis-representation. " I don't like to take names, but I feel Mary Kom feature wise should look Mary Kom", Barua said, referring to the Bollywood film, with Priyanka Chopra in the lead.
Jahnu Barua further cautioned that "in the name of selling ourselves, we should not forget our culture." Baruah lamented that one should not forget one's culture and identity in a bid to promote the land and its beauty. "We should sell our land and our beauty, but at what cost?", he queried.
Although Barua admitted that cinema plays a key role in promoting the beauty of a region, and inviting tourists to be a part of the region, however, one should draw the line somewhere.
Recalling his humble beginnings, Baruah said that he belonged to Japikhojiya in Sibsagar where vehicles couldn't enter. "It was not my original ambition to become a flim maker but wanted to become an architect. My home front was not well off and had to do both studies and work", he said.
Baruah disclosed to the young audience that when he doing his BSc in Guwahati, he got exposed to certain kind of film in Calvin cinema in Guwahati in 70s.
"Since then after my study I joined ISRO as a junior scientist where I was involved in SITE experiment. I was very lucky after that I did some UN development program then I started making small documentary and ads. After that, I have made 16 Assamese feature and 2 Hindi movies", Baruah says.
Speaking about the cinema of Assam, Baruah said that the state still has "miles to go", as there is a lack of infrastructure.
"When we talk of cinema, we need to know what is cinema?" I want my country people to understand that cinema is not mainstream cinema it is a story telling art and that is what we need to understand that", Baruah appealed.
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