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A report from The Telegraph (June 1, 2005)

Film fights for prestige - Video art presentation dispels myths about region

Guwahati, May 31: Bollywood may have painted the wrong picture of Bodo society through the controversial Tango Charlie, but Guwahati-based filmmakers Mriganka Madhukaillya and Sonal Jain are using the cinematic medium to protest the mainland's distorted view of the Northeast.

Admittedly, an attempt to bridge the divide between the region and the rest of the country, Madhukaillya and Jain's experimental exhibition of video art in New Delhi received rave reviews.

The duo's style of filmmaking is a mix of the abstract and the real, and the topics are usually critical issues confronting the region. Madhukaillya's five-minute film, The End of Nature, was screened at the Chicago Filmmakers' Spring 2004.

In the video art presentation titled Alpha and Beta, the filmmakers have used footage from Tango Charlie to show how tribal society and culture are misrepresented by the mainstream media.

Tango Charlie, directed by Mani Shankar and featuring Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan, was banned in Assam after Bodo organisations opposed the distorted portrayal of their community.

"Bollywood, or for that matter anyone from outside the region, has pre-conceived notions about the Northeast. We want to dispel these myths," Madhukaillya said.

Countering the depiction of Bodos as 'blood-thirsty monsters' in Shankar's film, Alpha and Beta incorporates real footage of human rights violations such as the crackdown on students in Manipur. Madhukaillya defended the gory scenes in the video art presentation. "Violence has become omnipresent in our lives," he said.

Video art is a kaleidoscope of moving images, photographs and music, captured with a video camera and projected on screen.

"Though it is a new medium, we deliberately chose video art to put across our message because it is easily accessible and reaches out to a large section of society," said Jain, a former faculty member at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.

Madhukaillya and Jain are now trying to organise funds for a mobile exhibition of their latest venture, which they intend to take to every part of the region. Another short film, Daily Check-up, depicts the inconvenience residents of the Northeast face because of round-the-clock surveillance. Politics of Real Time is a four-channel video piece featuring the lush sacred forests of Meghalaya, the Brahmaputra, clippings from the first Assamese film Joymoti and traditional dances of Arunachal Pradesh.


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