The Telegraph
Sunday , August 24 , 2014
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Music, peace rally balm for unrest
Unity message at Papon concert

New Delhi, Aug. 23: When things are not good back home, just submit to the East India Company and Fragrances from the North East.

The Papon Mahanta-led rock band from Assam rocked the young crowd from the region at the launch of the first Northeast film festival, Fragrances from the North East, organised by the ministry of information and broadcasting, here last night. Disturbed by the incidents back home, the young college-going crowd in Delhi found healing touch in Papon and an assurance that art could mend things.

As a mixed crowd of young people from Assam and Nagaland and the rest of the Northeast enjoyed popular folk-fusion numbers, Papon made it a point to remind them how bad things were back home, strumming with every harsh note the peace chords.

“Things are not good in our land, our neighbours have attacked us,” said Papon, referring to the recent Assam-Nagaland boundary dispute. Papon was certainly serious about the violence but not about the accusation at neighbour Nagaland.

“This is the time for festivals so let’s show it is time to be friends…we have tea at each others’ homes,” he said, as the crowd seemed to lap up every word as a command from their hero.

He said the Northeast was so diverse and so different within, that it was difficult for him to sing in every dialect so that he could represent the entire region in his performance.

With his mix of Goalparia and Punjabi and a medley of Boro-Nepali-Kumaoni, the Barfi! singer spoke of the similarity in folk traditions and rhythms across the country.

It was only after a long Bihu number that left the audience in raptures that the large number of young people happily allowed the screening of Mizo film Khawnglung Run (The Raid of Khawnlung), directed by Mapuia Chawngthu.

Today’s screenings included Joseph Pulinthanath-directed Yarwng in Kokborok, Phijigee Mani directed by O. Gautam Singh, Sonam, a Monpa language film, directed by veteran theatre personality Ehsan Muzid, and Jahnu Barua’s Ajeya. Tomorrow, Nagamese film Going the Distance by Tiainla Jamir, Gorkhali film Kathaa by Prashant Rasaily and Khasi film Ri directed by Pradip Kurbah will be screened.

“We will watch the films but this evening it is Papon’s awesome concert and the message of peace,” said Delhi University student Reb Changmai from Assam, after Papon’s performance last evening.

Rambo Naga, who hails from Dimapur and has done his doctorate from IGNOU, was equally enthusiastic and agreed that the region needs “some understanding”.

In the national capital, students from the two states mingle and understand that political boundaries can’t keep people away from each other. It was evident as Nagas and Assamese alike enjoyed the films from the Northeast.

Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, who attended the inaugural function with minister of state for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, said his state was promoting the film industry.

“Our young people need entertainment,” he said while offering land for setting up a Northeast Film Institute.

He hoped the film festival would travel to other metros. This, he said, was necessary “in light of deficiencies”, alluding to the discrimination against Northeast people.

Javadekar said looking at the enthusiasm, the Prime Minister should have inaugurated the fest. “But he will be here next year…Northeast has a special place in the heart of our Prime Minister.”