‘Hindi imposition driving Northeast languages to brink’

Anuruddha Jayasinghe, a film director from Sri Lanka; Sulakhyana Baruah, actor; Sunita Kapoor, producer, Magi Matambakta; Rahul Rawil, filmmaker; Kamakhya Narayan Singh, film director, Ravi Bharwani, film director and producer from Indonesia; and N Vidyashankar, Artistic Director, Biffes, at a media conference at the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) in Bengaluru on Saturday. DH PHOTO/S K DINESH

Imposition of Hindi has affected the languages of the Northeast, according to filmmakers from the region.

Hindi is, in fact, obstructing the languages of the Northeast from going mainstream, henceforth leading to extinction, they said.

Speaking to reporters at the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) on Saturday, Sulakhyana Baruah, the daughter of filmmaker Bobby Sarma Baruah, and Sunita Kapoor, film producer, spoke of their movies. They thanked the jury for picking their films made in languages that are on the brink.

“Most people in the Northeast speak Hindi. This is what is leading to the depletion of our native languages. People speaking the indigenous languages have been reduced to thousands from lakhs. So, if the domination continues, one day it will come down to hundreds,” Sulakhyana Baruah, who was representing her mother in the festival, said.

Mishing, directed by Bobby Sarma, explores the Sherdukpen people of Arunachal Pradesh, with a rare glimpse of their dialect. Baruah said of the film: “Around 4,000 people used to speak in Sherdukpen dialect once. Today, almost half of them have forgotten the language. We wanted to revive the dialect, for which we choose the effective medium - the film.”

Sunita Kapoor, the producer of Magi Matambakta, joined the debate and expressed unhappiness over the depiction of the Northeast. “It was a herculean task for us to push our local language films to a world audience amidst the competition and the dominance of Hindi. However, the film festival gave us a platform to share the ground reality in the Northeast. Now, it’s time for us to help these dialects live long. We wanted to show the beauty of the region, too.” 

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‘Hindi imposition driving Northeast languages to brink’

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