Sinlung /
10 November 2013

Bollywood Still Averse To Casting Faces From Northeast: Mary Kom

NEW DELHI: Boxing icon MC Mary Kom considers the northeast "one region". She now aims to bring home a bigger accolade than her Olympic medal, but also wishes to mentor young talent from the region who can carry forward her legacy. At the North East Festival 2013 on Saturday, she poured her heart out.

She said she misses watching Bollywood movies in Manipur because of the ban on screening of Hindi films, and fears that people back home may not be able to watch her biopic which is set to release. Kom and three other sporting and cultural icons from the northeast shared their journeys of making it big and their hopes and concerns for the region at the festival.

"As a child I had no one to guide me. I used to go to Imphal from my village where I was introduced to women's boxing. I did not tell my family what I was up to because if they had stopped me from boxing, my morale would have really gone down," she says. Her friends discouraged her because boxing is "not a woman's game". "If a man can fight, why can't a woman? I have proved myself," she said.

Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barma, the maharaja of erstwhile kingdom of Tripura and member of Tripura Congress Committee, spoke about his journey as an entrepreneur: "When we started our heritage hotel in 2002, people asked us who is going to come to the northeast. We have proved them wrong by running it extremely successfully." Deb Barma also said that despite being a member of Congress, his personal thoughts on AFSPA are separate from his party's.

"I am against AFSPA. We need some moderate voices from the northeast to come to the fore. Our story is not only about failures and pain but about so many other positive things," he added.

Larsing Ming Sawyan, vice president of All-India Football Federation shared his experience of creating a football team that represents the entire northeast region. "Through the 60s, 70s and 80s we did not see much of northeast in national football. We began scouting for young talent in different parts of the eight states and formed a team that qualified for I League. We realized we didn't know much about each other in northeast. There is a need to create an identity that is pan-northeastern," he said.

Actor Adil Hussain, who belongs to Goalpara in Assam, impressed everyone off-screen too. Reacting to a question on why there have been fewer faces from northeast in Bollywood after Danny Denzongpa, he said, "It (Bollywood) is an industry. They don't cast faces from the northeast because it will not sell. I am probably here because I have some Aryan features."

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