22 Years of Dil Se, A Film That Exploits Assamese Trauma to Glorify a Stalker and Racist?

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Nostalgia is a superb feeling.

A positive movie comes on TV on a Sunday and takes you again to your youth days on your fatherland. You really feel glad and proud to see anyone who looks as if you on display, the gorgeous roads and rivers which might be so acquainted that you just in an instant really feel a connection. However, as a 23 yr outdated Assamese lady, I’ve actually no thought how that seems like!

For years, I’ve appeared for a mainstream Indian movie I may just relate to. There were fleeting mentions and an “Assamese” persona right here and there in movies like Margarita with a Straw, however there used to be not anything greater than a short while of tokenism. Even when there have been actors like Adil Hussain and Plabita Borthakur shining in sensible, content-driven movies, there have been no Assamese tales according to se.

That used to be why once I began looking at Dil Se on a day, made up our minds to watch each movie that mythical filmmaker Mani Ratnam had made, I used to be relatively shocked to to find that there used to be a movie again in 1998 that used to be based totally in Assam. I used to be shocked as to why my folks by no means instructed me about it, for they’d with ease spoiled the finishing for me. I were given my solution quickly sufficient.

As I watched the primary part an hour of the movie, I used to be over the moon. Shah Rukh Khan’s Amar had taken a fancy to Manisha Koirala’s Meghna, however my eyes have been on the ‘dheki,’ a conventional rice-pounder utilized in Assamese villages, and the Mekhela Chadar (two piece conventional apparel worn by means of ladies). Udit Narayan’s Aye Ajnabee transitioned into ‘Pakhi Pakhi Bidekhi’ hummed by means of Zubeen Garg.

When the movie hinted at extremism in Assam, I assumed it used to be very courageous of the director to accomplish that. There used to be in spite of everything a movie made in regards to the state’s militancy and extremism. What extra may just I need?

However, I used to be quickly to be disillusioned, as a result of even if the gorgeous frames and melodious tracks distracted me for a whilst, I may just now not assist however suppose how uncomfortable it used to be for a lady to be adopted round by means of a guy, after having stated no a couple of instances. But I had simply discovered a film about ‘us’, I used to be made up our minds to now not write it off so briefly. It used to be the ‘90s and stalking a woman was a norm at that time. I just needed to be patient.

However, as the film progressed and reached Ladakh, it slowly started slipping away. One of the most triggering experiences of my life was watching Amar grope Meghna and forcefully kiss her. I didn’t suppose the movie may just disappoint me to any extent further, however it did, many times.

Throughout the movie, I had to watch Amar describe Meghna to a number of other folks as “choti choti aankhen, chapti naak” (small eyes, flat nostril). To Meghna’s face, Amar would exoticise her “choti aankhen.” I remember that it used to be the ‘90s but I am saddened how that gave people the free pass to normalise racism in a mainstream film! Was human rights not invented in the 90s? Were Northeast Indians not harassed with racial slur in the ‘90s?

You see, for Assamese people, the trauma was two-pronged. While extremist organisations like ULFA for decades from its inception in 1979 upto the 2010s killed hundreds of people in the state, many suffered due to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Countless innocent people were caught in the crossfire.

For years, people in the state have been terrified of National Holidays and any festival for that matter, because it would mean a high possibility of explosion.

How do you take the collective trauma of a state and exploit it for your aesthetics, only to forget about it completely? Filmmakers with their “creative freedom” have done this for years, but what Dil Se did was glorify a stalker, sexual offender and a racist, and made him a Romeo for the rest of India to lap up.

Even the flashback scene about Meghna’s childhood seemed superficial. When your protagonist was a victim of sexual harassment as a child, in what world did the maker think it was okay to romanticise the sexual harassment she faced on the hands of our “hero”?

Even the climax immortalises our hero, because our agency-less heroine was destined to die for nothing anyway. The whole extravagance of the embrace, as if no other members of the terrorist organisations had bombs on them, only went on to stroke the mainstream Indian saviour complex and the way it looks down upon Assam and other Northeastern states.

22 years have gone by since the film’s unlock and it’s nonetheless termed as “iconic” and “revolutionary” and ‘brilliant.”

It probably is, for people who are looking from outside. For people who have lived through the trauma, it is a different story altogether. My parents did not tell me about Dil Se because they didn’t love it. Most other folks bring it to mind as a movie that lasted 10 mins in Assam, even in “the ‘90s.” Can you blame them?

People everywhere else seem to love the film. Cinema pages on Instagram cannot get over how beautiful the frames are. Yes, the acting is great, so is AR Rahman’s tune and Santosh Sivan’s cinematography. So what?

A good friend, once I expressed my emotions for the film, instructed me, “Yeah the stalking is a bit much but I don’t have a problem with the movie.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re not a woman. Or an Assamese.”

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