A traumatic road trip

Yirmiyan Arthur Yhome’s film, This Road I know was screened in front of a small audience at India International Centre on August 28. The film focuses on a highway that runs through Nagaland and Manipur and this highway has been the most travelled road for the filmmaker. In the film sherecounts her journeys on that road from her childhood in 70s to the present and recounts in phases Operation Bluebird in 1987 which led to heavy militarisation in the area.

The film has a personal touch and rudimentary look which somehow makes it more of a documentary. The script seems to be digressing towards various topics in a span of an hour. But the same also implicates that the northeastern conflict is indeed very complex.

Topics of anti-nationalism, tribal, ethnic issues, religious issues and issues of women in the region have been discussed in the film. Yhome has been able to capture diverse conflicts in her film by rummaging her childhood memory and recollecting her travelling experience on NH 53 which connects Nagaland and Manipur.

According to Yhome, National Highways and state borders only cause more identity crisis in an individual. “I am a Naga and live in Manipur; I have forever longed to visit my village in Nagaland. Pre 1987, the road journeys were beautiful. Now going down that road is like going to the lion’s mouth,” Yhome tells Metrolife. “Because of constant ethnic conflicts between various communities there is fear of armed men present everywhere,” adds Yhome.

In the foreground of the film people are seen leading a ‘normal’ life, eating, shopping and playing where as the background subtly highlights how the green valley is crammed by armed men. The filmmaker says, “Studying history books as a child, I never learnt anything about Nagaland except that they are tribal ‘head hunters’ . I want people to know more about that part of the so- called India.”

Music was an obvious stand-out factor in the film. Roko, a song from the film sung by the band Purple Fusion, sums up the film’s narrative extremely well. This song speaks about stopping riots, murders, violence, rape and racism, and all other atrocities happening every day in the world today.

The film was funded by Panos South Asia and International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Yhome’s other films include, The Test and Thalee.

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